Wow! What a Shabbat!

I planned to write about something else.  I did.  I really wanted to write about some other topic.  But, every time I sat down at my keyboard, only one subject popped into my head – Jonah’s Bar Mitzvah.

Wow!  What a Shabbat!

I cannot possibly count the number of people who have approached me to tell me what this occasion meant to them.  I have appreciated each and every comment offered.  What has been striking, however, is that it meant different things for different people.

Some people focused on our family and the way we interacted with Jonah, supported Jonah and celebrated his success.

Some people were struck by what it meant about us as a community.  After all, it’s quite possible that this was the most-attended Bar Mitzvah in the history of our SJCC.  It says a lot about us that people wanted to be there for Jonah.

Some people were amazed by the physical transformation of our synagogue.  Prior to construction, it would have been impossible to seat 400 people in our sanctuary and then immediately turn over the space for a Kiddush luncheon with table seating.  (I must give a shout-out to Marc Mutterperl of Lox Stock & Deli – I don’t know how he did it!)  And yet, there we all were.

And then some people just couldn’t get past Jonah.  Anyone who has met Jonah knows how much he loves Judaism and the SJCC.  But not too many people suspected that he would be able to do as much as he did – all while cracking jokes in front of the entire congregation.  I know that I am not exactly objective, but he was pretty terrific.

The truth is that no matter which way you chose to look at this past Shabbat, you were right.  It was all those things and more.

And as I thought about this, I realized that I should be a little bit more sympathetic toward the twelve spies that Moshe sent into the Land of Canaan in this week’s Torah portion.  We know that two of them – Caleb and Joshua – came back and said all the right things about the Promised Land.  The other ten, however, came back and described it as a scary place.  In reality, there was some truth to their perspective as well.  Moshe may have wanted them to see things a certain way, but in the end, one person cannot tell another how to perceive the world.

So, while for me, Saturday was all about Jonah and his accomplishments, I completely understand how others could see it differently.  And I am grateful that so many took a few moments to share with me their reactions.





About Rabbi Avi Friedman

I am the rabbi of Congregation Ohr Shalom - SJCC, a progressive Conservative and traditional congregation. I am also husband to Jodi as well as father to Gabi, Jonah, Jessica and Ilana. I have been a part of the Summit community since 2005.
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