12 years, 326 days, 7 hours, and 31 minutes. That was how long I had waited for the day to come; the day I would become a Jewish man. While growing up, I had attended many Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, a ceremony where a Jewish boy or girl becomes a man or woman. Beaming eye to eye, I waited for my time to come. But now that it was finally here, my perspective changed from the little boy with a mind full of wonder to a nervous, red-faced young man, with butterflies flying around in his stomach. I was ready to find a really good place to hide, where no one would ever find me, and never come out. After all, many boys are pretty scared when this day comes around. Although I dreaded it at first, the day of my Bar Mitzvah was one of the most extraordinary days of my life.
“Get up!” my mom screamed as the clock struck six. As the sun slowly rose on the horizon, the sky was streaked with tangerine and rose colors. It was the perfect day outside, but I just couldn't appreciate it. When my sister and mom leisurely finished getting their hair done, it was finally time to run out the door. I didn't know it then, but when I would come back, I wouldn't be the same.
My dad screamed, “Let's go! All kids, we’re leaving.” And just like that, we were off. As we pulled into my synagogue’s parking lot, I finally started to comprehend the challenge I was about undertake. For someone who is somewhat shy, chanting a portion of the Torah in a different language in front of hundreds of people wasn't exactly something I was comfortable with. Despite the butterflies that seemed to not only be flying, but pounding on my stomach, I knew that I had to complete this important moment in my life. Thankfully, I was able to put those fears aside, at least temporarily, as I focused on taking what seemed like millions of family photos.
We started outside. The sparkling, shimmering, golden sun shone down on us, as I stood with my family beside a crystal clear pond with a fountain shooting water out as forcefully as it would feel like to get punched in the gut. “Tilt your head to the left. Stay right there. Perfect!” my photographer exclaimed. I didn’t like taking pictures, but I was more worried about the service. It was the perfect day outside, and a normal day for most everyone else. But for me, on the inside, it was different. I was so unbearably nervous as we finished pictures when I saw my friends and family members pile into the chapel in what seemed like seconds. The time had come; it was finally time for the service.
The cantor abruptly started the service, but I knew that it wasn’t long until the butterflies would return, and I would have to chant myself. Then, the time came as the cantor read my cue, “I now call the Bar Mitzvah, Brody Mayoras, to the Bimah, to recite the Tallit Blessing.” I finally had to get up. Get up and face my fears as I was called by the cantor to chant in Hebrew. As I got out of my seat, I felt the butterflies return. It seemed as though they were begging for me to sit back down, but I ignored them, knowing what I had to do: continue. Although the Tallit Blessing was only one line, it was the first time that I would have to chant in front of the sea of people. At that moment, I felt as though there were even more people in that small chapel than there would be at a Broadway show’s opening night. The butterflies pounded, trying to get out of my stomach, but I miraculously mustered up the courage to begin. I slowly started, unsure what to expect from myself. As I muttered the first word, I focused on each letter of a blessing I had known for years. I sang, “Baruch atah adonai eloheinu melech haolam asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hitateif ba-tzitzit.” I beamed with joy after I completed the blessing. As I walked down the stage’s miniscule, ruby steps to receive my Tallit from my family, they reassured me and gave me the confidence I needed to continue on with the service. “We believe in you, and know you can do it,” my grandmother exclaimed. “I love you so much, and I’m so very proud of you,” my great-grandmother, GG, chimed in. I then took the confidence I gained from my family, and used it to chant the remainder of my blessings, my Torah portion, and my Haftorah portion beautifully. After I sang, “Amen,” at the end of my Haftarah blessing, I immediately felt a tremendous weight lifted off my shoulders. My cantor, who had been by my side for nearly the entire service exclaimed, “You sang like a seasoned choir professional.” I had done it. I had finally finished my Bar Mitzvah service!
I strolled out of the chapel, sang the blessing over the food, and got to talk with all of my friends and family. They exclaimed, “You did wonderfully and sang beautifully!” They also remarked, “I wish I could’ve completed my Bar Mitzvah service as well as you did.” Not only had I completed my service, but I had surprisingly completed it with ease.
This moment in my life, my Bar Mitzvah day, specifically my service, was one of the best and most memorable days of my life. I will always remember and cherish this day because of the lessons I learned from it and also the sense of accomplishment I felt after I completed such a great feat. Lucky for me, I was rewarded with a trip to Israel, one of the most amazing trips of my life. Some of the highlights of the trip for me were being able to travel throughout the homeland of the Jewish people, experiencing many natural beauties like the Dead Sea and Banias River Park, and also seeing the kindness of the Israeli people. In addition to my life-changing trip, I was gifted with a fun-filled small party with my family and friends. The party was a blast, and I ended my Bar Mitzvah day on an amazing note. It is funny for me now watching my siblings prepare for their B’nai Mitzvah, knowing what will come of their long, life-changing process.