The kids were so well-behaved. They asked such intelligent questions at the petting farm.
What an amazing bar mitzvah – I wish I’d had this option when I was a kid!
It was the best bar mitzvah I’ve ever attended. Seriously.
All around us, lush green filled the landscape – trees and plants, flowers and bushes, gravel paths and dirt trails. The pond at the front of the property dotted with rain drops off and on until just about the end of the service, and then miraculously, the sky opened into sun.
Before the service, my kids and my nieces and nephews posed around pine trees, creating images of forest happiness. Family pulled close together to smile into cameras, hugging one another on this splendid day.
The service took place under cover of a grand white tent. My beautiful son stood at the front, leading the congregation in prayer and song, beloved family members joining in with poetry and blessings.
The rabbi explained to us that what is all around us, what is manmade, is the workaday week while all the eye can see ahead of us – thick forest, wide meandering meadow, horses and chickens and new baby goats – that is Shabbat, the Sabbath, what we cannot create, but only recreate.
We can plant seeds, he said. We cannot create a tree from nothing. We can help animals procreate. We cannot create them out of the air.
The sacred is all around us, before us, after us, enveloping us in its wisdom and in its peace.
After the service, children filled tractors and wandered through hay rides on the farm grounds. They petted animals and learned about them. The adults sipped coffee and tea, talked over pastries and fruit.
And then, it was time to party.
We danced in the barn. We ate pizza and salad and Dairy Queen blizzards. And at one point in the afternoon, all the kids gathered around my incredible son to tell him what they think of him.
You’re the bravest kid I know.
Smart. Funny. You’re hilarious.
You are a great friend.
I was the only Jewish kid in my class until you came to our school.
I can’t remember when we first became friends, we’ve been friends for so long. I remember hanging out together at my house, sitting in the sun, splashing in the pool.
Courageous. Brave. Smart. Funny.
I remember when you wore your sister’s skinny jeans to school by mistake. You’re the only kid I know who could stand on a stage in a rainbow morph suit and perform.
You are the best friend.
These moments are precious, and priceless. Realizing how special one is – when does that ever really happen?
And so we celebrated the person my son is, and the person he is becoming, and the place he holds in all of our lives, all 120 of the people gathered together yesterday to celebrate Asher.
It was, in simple words, an exquisitely perfect, peaceful, simple bar mitzvah.
My theory about why the kids were so well-behaved: they were out in nature all day. When they got bored, they wandered in the gardens and under the trees. They sat on benches, they rolled down grassy knolls, they talked amid wood chips and pine needles.
They weren’t texting and playing games on their phones. They were connecting with one another and with fresh air and sunshine, all the ingredients we need for a good life.
Looking back, I would not change a single detail of the entire event. Not the morning rain nor the too-much-food nor the sheer exhaustion I felt last night as I fell into bed, so tired I was shaking.
Before the bar mitzvah, a dinner among family and my parents’ friends, revving up for this special weekend. After the bar mitzvah, dinner at my parents’ house with family, winding down from an incredible day.
This morning, brunch at my house hosted by my in-laws, a perfect ending to a wonderful weekend. We lingered on the couches and in the yard, talking, sipping, relaxing, enjoying these people we are so lucky to have in our lives.
It was, in simple words, a perfect weekend.
An opportune celebration of my son – and of all of us together, this community of friends and family who are so wonderful, so special, so full of love that we are brimming over with kindness and caring.
How lucky are we? How very lucky indeed.