Dear Judah,

Next weekend you become a Jewish man. Your family and your community will form a circle of love around you, and they will pulsate to the rhythm of your parents and your grandparents, and of all of those who have danced before them.

Your grandmothers and your mother will shed a tear, not because they are sad, but because of what this day represents. They will remember your birth and the day of your bris and they will think of the heartache they felt when you struggled at school. And they will think of the joy that you bring. They will remember your first smile and your first steps and they will even, with indulgent warmth, recall the time that you nearly broke your baby sister of 4 weeks when you repeatedly rotated her by her feet. They will look at you and smile and they will shake their heads wondering where the years have gone. Because although you feel it has taken so long to grow up, for those around you it has been a jolt.

And your father and your grandfathers will swallow and blink back the moisture in our eyes, because we are fools and have not, even with the blessing of the years, understood that this is the time for tears. For they are not drops of despair, but of magnitude. They are tears that mark the day as they fall to the ground where they seep slowly and mingle with the dust of your ancestors who have returned. Your forbearers are comforted, and they are joyous that you have accepted your destiny and you have acknowledged your past.

And we will think of what it means to take on the obligations, the yoke and also the honour of our people. We will wonder where your life will lead you, how you will impact on the world and how you will pass on the message of our brothers to your sons and to your daughters. We will imagine the wondrous ways you will find in which you will leave the world a better place than that which you entered.. And we will wonder, with poignancy, what it is that we will have the honor to witness in our own lifetime.

We will think about you one day returning to the land of our people where you will join your brothers as they study God’s way and they protect the land that He has given us. And we will imagine a time where we will be at peace and we will all live without hatred and without oppression and without the plague of anti Semitism that we suffer daily.

Your bar mitzvah is a time to recall your great grandparents who left a life in Europe and made a home in South Africa. It seems like another world for you, one that you can only imagine, but I so clearly remember what was done to them and how they suffered even as they continued to live. But they had the strength that you have, and they continued to serve God and they build families and lives. They build communities and yeshivas and a Jewish infrastructure so that your grandparents would be born into a world that they had created. And they were, but still it was not easy. So your grandparents, knowing what needed to be done, continued their mission in order for mom and I to be born into a world that they had improved on.

And so Judah, next weekend when you become a Jewish man, we will dance with you and we will dance for you. We will celebrate you and we will celebrate everything that the day represents. We will shower you with the love that you deserve, for you are loved by so many. Your heart-warming smile and your shining blue eyes will illuminate the future and reflect the past. You embody both everything that has gone before and everything that is still to come. You stand in the centre of your own lineage and you stand on the threshold of greatness.

May you be Blessed and may we all share in the Blessing of the day.

With Love,