Some bar and bat mitzvah kids are naturally poised and confident when they stand on the bimah reciting their torah portions and delivering their teaching drash. Bowen is one such teenager. Not only did he chant his Hebrew learnings beautifully and give an interesting lecture but he also played a song on his saxophone. I can’t remember another b’nai mitzvah at Berkeley’s Congregation Beth El where the bar mitzvah performed with their instrument. It was lovely. And what made the service even more meaningful was that Bowen’s mother and aunt also chanted from the torah. Way to go women! These women grew up in Orthodox synagogues where women did not read from the torah so they did not have the early experience of chanting. It was really beautiful to have their contribution; it made the event an important family event.
My son will be a bar mitzvah in 5 weeks. My mom and I are planning to chant from the torah just like we did at my older son’s bar mitzvah and just like Bowen’s mom and aunt. It’s quite a wonderful feeling to be part of an ancient tradition. Learning to read Hebrew without the aid of knowing the language and the help of vowels or other punctuation is pretty hard and it gives me some empathy into how difficult it is for the young people to master. I still have a lot to learn in the next 5 weeks. In the mean time, congratulations to Bowen and his family.
Taken from outside the sanctuary.
The bar mitzvah gets showered with candy.
Blessings over the bread and wine just after the service.
Way to go Bowen. A job well done!