Ancient Words Speak: I’m Speechless

Hi, again. I hope you’ll forgive my absence. I was otherwise consumed. We had a Bar Mitzvah last weekend.


My mind has been so occupied with it that I could not think. I’m not talking about the detail-y things (the suit fitting, the speech-writing, the catering questions, the back-and-forth e-mails planning the ever-increasing number of events that unfold when you are blessed with a family that loves to be together and will travel across the country en masse to celebrate your child’s milestone).

I’m talking about the high frequency emotional tautness that has vibrated through me for the past few months, a nameless feeling that sent me to the ocean to cry three weeks ago, just to get some release. “There should be a word for eloping a Bar Mitzvah,” I declared to my friend of infant twins, thinking she had 12 1/2 years to prepare herself.

Some cousins asked me if I was going to write about the experience. I wanted to, I said, “but I don’t even know where I’d begin.” I was in the emotions stratosphere. I could not find an entry point through that thick mass of tension and joy, anticipation and anxiety that ran through me the past two months. Try as I might, I could not come down to ground level, let alone go underground deep enough to find the buried treasures of meaning in the whole process.

It’s too bad, because a ritual to honor your child’s maturation strikes me as a moment made for reflecting.


I’m hoping that now that the whole shebang is done, I can go back to look for the golden nuggets.

I am beginning my descent from the high wire, from the astonishing magnitude of pride, from the celebrations and hurt feelings, the wonderment and messiness, the beauty and chaos that happen in moments of heightened living, all of which somehow get squeezed into regular 24-hour days.

Stuff happens that you don’t expect. I didn’t expect to feel so “filled up,” as my friend put it. I didn’t expect my son to play in his team’s basketball game 90 minutes after his Bar Mitzvah ended.


I certainly never expected my meat-and-potatoes father-in-law to order (and to enjoy), probiotic yogurt with Chia seeds and raw organic honey at an organic restaurant the morning of his return to stone-cold and sensible Pennsylvania. (Will wonders never cease?)

It has been six days since I watched my little boy stand with unprecedented composure (where did that come from?) and read ancient Hebrew from a book that has not changed for over 3000 years,   Reading from Torah

a book that essentially teaches, “Be upright. Be kind. Love everyone.” Six days since I listened to him say that he wants to grow up to be a person who makes other people look good. (His best basketball stat being the assist.) Since I heard his younger brother “admit” in front of everyone that he admires his brother “a little bit.” Since I nearly burst with fervent wishing when our rabbis and cantor graced him with the traditional blessing for protection and peace.

Six days ago, my husband thanked our parents for teaching us how to love so we could raise our children with heaps of it, and I told our son how grateful I was to be his mom. Seeing my eyes glisten, with a grin he handed me a tissue.

Aaron with tissue

As I took it, I leaned over and encircled this boy who was at once my baby and the generous young man who was blooming right before our eyes.

More to come.

12 thoughts on “Ancient Words Speak: I’m Speechless

  1. Mazel Tov to you and your family, Laura. It is truly a highlight of being a parent, and something your son will never forget.
    Fondly, Essie

    1. Thank you, Essie. It was quite something to stand there with Julie, who I met in that very place at the very age my son now is. And of course it is an even deeper experience as the parent than as the kid! I hope Aaron gets to know that some day.

  2. I thought id write on your blog that after all the hard work and preparations it was a great Bar Mitzvah. Aaron and Emmett are truly wonderful boys who are caring and loving and everything boys raised by wonderful parents should be!!! Thank you for a wonderful
    Weekend. I love you guys!!!! I may need a tissue myself now😃.

  3. WOW!!

    So sorry we were unable to share at least some of these very rich moments with you!

    I love you,

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