My son celebrated his bar mitzvah on Saturday, May 5, 2012. Phew… I’m still recovering from the weekend, although in a good way. Jared was flawless, and proved to be everything two parents could ever wish for in their children. We are immensely proud.
Part of the bar mitzvah ceremony (for those who have never been to one) is for the parents to speak to their child, and impart some wisdom to help guide them in their future life.
I got the sappy speech. My husband got the clever and funny one. That’s how life always seems to be. So, for your reading pleasure, here are our speeches to Jared:
From the moment you arrived on Mother’s Day in 1999, you’ve captivated my heart completely… first with your adorable face, then with your charm which (believe it or not) was very obvious from the time you were an infant, and then with your kindness, sensitivity, generosity, polite manners and thoughtfulness… traits that are obvious to everybody who meets you.
One of the formative moments in our lives occurred on October 18, 2005 when you fell from your bunk bed and we ended up at Children’s Healthcare for a week with a traumatic injury to your arm. That first day in the ER, the doctors told us they were just trying to save your arm. How could any of us have known in that darkest of moments that this event would shape you into the incredible young man standing before me today?
Over the years, your dad and I watched you take that awful injury and use it to become tenacious and determined, qualities which will ultimately help you to succeed in life. You also learned to think of others first. For years, you always thanked me for staying with you in the hospital and taking you to your doctor appointments… which frankly always amazed me. As if I would have chosen to be anywhere else.
I know how hard you’ve worked, not only on your bar mitzvah but also on your mitzvah project. Wow, 100 rock walls… as somebody who has never even climbed one wall, that is certainly an accomplishment to be proud of! Your motto in life, which seems to be “I’ll try my best” really came through for you today. I love how devoted you are to our religion, and I cannot tell you how proud you’ve made me because the words just don’t exist.
Lots of parents use this moment to list their child’s many accomplishments, or to plot a course for their child’s life. I’m not going to do that, because I don’t have any specific ambitions for you. You have so many gifts; you could do anything, really. I want to tell you that it’s not so important to set the world on fire, but rather to kindle love in people’s hearts and to be a force for what is good in this world.
Jared, I wish you an extraordinary life, one filled with the everyday miracles of love, friendship, children, useful work, and a sense of how precious it all is. You have been a wonderful son and brother, and you will be a great man – a great husband, father and friend. I am so happy to have a front row seat, and I’m so grateful to be your mother.
My Husband’s Speech:
Jared, you and I share many passions. And what’s great is we have access to all of our passions within easy reach. That’s why we have a tennis court in front of our house, a basketball court behind our house, and in the middle, cereal… LOTS of cereal. About 30 – 40 boxes at any one time.
And as you drew life lessons from the slaughtering of goats in your Torah portion, I got to thinking about something else that comes from goats: milk, and of course we all know what milk is good for: cereal! This connection between your Torah portion and cereal DID NOT go unnoticed by me, and inspired me to ponder: how cool would it be to also gain some life lessons from those colorful characters on all those cereal boxes in our cabinet?
So I selected a few of those mascots that personify some of your finest qualities—and I wanted to highlight a few of them now:
Best personified by the Trix Rabbit, who never gives up. He shows dogged determination by pursuing Trix cereal, despite continuous set-backs, until the kids bust him by saying “Silly Rabbit, Trix are for kids!” But that doesn’t deter him… he is unstoppable, and so are you! And like Rabbit, your determination is what enabled you to come back from your arm injury so you could become a competitive rock climber and tennis player, achieve excellence in your academics and Jewish studies, as evidenced by your outstanding performance today.
Treating others how you’d want to be treated…
Like Cap’n Crunch. He always went the extra mile to rescue kids in danger with his pirate ship and the sweet crunchy taste of Cap’n Crunch. In doing so, he put his ship and crew in great peril. Jared, your manners and the way you put others’ needs before your own truly sets YOU apart. I can’t tell you many times we’ve heard, “Your son has great manners. You really did something right.” I wish we could take credit for it, but it’s all you. Remember, there’s never a rush hour on the road to the extra mile.
Go coo coo for Cocoa Puffs like Sonny the coo coo bird. Just like Sonny always went coo coo when he finally got his Cocoa Puffs, harness your inner coo coo bird in everything you do. Your passion inspires others to follow… like the passion you showed by climbing 100 rock walls and raising $2200. I saw your passion, and sometimes pain, toward completing the goal. You and Sonny make a great team!
And last but not least, BE GRRREAT!!
Like Tony the Tiger, always keep your positive attitude, while striving for excellence in everything you do.
Jared, it’s truly amazing what wonderful traits you have in common with a silly rabbit, a crazy pirate, a coo coo bird, a happy tiger, and even an old goat. Ultimately, it’s all about being a good human being, which you already are, and treating people with respect and kindness.
I’m so proud to have you as my cereal buddy, my sports buddy, my son and my friend, I love you.