Saturday Evening Service and Dinner
Two of Beorn’s b’nai mitzvot classmates served as ushers, making sure men had on a kippah (head covering) and handing out the programs for the service the Rabbi and I put together. Again, if anyone wants to see it, I’ll be happy to email it to you.
We all went into the sanctuary, with Paul, Beorn, and myself sitting in the front pew. The Rabbi called on Paul and me to say the Shehecheyanu, the prayer of thanksgiving, and then called on my sister and her husband to present Beorn with his tallis (prayer shawl), since that was their gift to him. Once Beorn was enwrapped in his tallis, he ascended the bima (altar) to lead the mincha (afternoon) service, all in Hebrew.
The main reason why we were all gathered to celebrate occurred during the mincha Torah service. On Saturday afternoon three sections of the following week’s Torah portion is read. First a Kohain (a descendent of Aaron, Moses’ brother) is called up to recite the blessings over the first reading. Then Beorn chanted the first portion of the next week’s reading (Deuteronomy 29:9-29:11, multiple pages until it says second reading.) Then a Levi is called up to recite the blessings over the second reading. Beorn then chanted the second portion (Deuteronomy 29:12-29:14).
Finally, it was the big moment. Beorn chanted the blessing before the Torah, chanted the third portion (Deuteronomy 29:15-29:28), and then chanted the blessings after the Torah.
After the Torah reading, the rabbi had Beorn give his other speech. This one the rabbi helped him with.
[insert speech whenever I get a copy]
He then continued to lead the mincha service in Hebrew, including returning the Torah to the ark all the way through the concluding prayers.
We then went into the social hall for the suedah shlitshis, the Shabbes third meal.
Gefilte Fish with ground horseradish
Spinach and Feta Phyllo Puffs
Individual Mozzerella Caprese with Balsamic Syrup
Eggplant Parmesan Casserole (for low carbers as it was unbreaded)
Mixed Field Greens Salad with diced mango, craisins, nuts, and a sweet dressing
Roasted Vegetables (asparagus, green beans, zucchini, more eggplant, button mushrooms, portabello mushrooms)
Cut Fruit Salad (cantaloupe, honey dew, watermelon, strawberries, mixed grapes, fresh pineapple, carambola)
Chocolate Cake with white icing
Mountain Trail Mix with additional M&Ms
(remember, about half the guests were coming to a dessert buffet afterwards)
We had Stolichnaya Vodka, Bacardi White and Gold Rums, Tanqueray Gin, M&R Vermouth, and Kahluah, along with various mixers available, and sodas and coffee.
During the meal, the Rabbi got up and explained the table with all of the collection baskets Beorn had set up for six months for his Bar Mitzvah project. Here is the write-up about the project the shul had sent out in their email newsletter:
Beorn Wagner, a student at the Alachua Learning Center and B'nai Israel Religious School, has combined his 7th grade service project and Bar Mitzvah project to benefit Peaceful Paths Domestic Abuse Network.
Beorn has discovered that, even if disconnected from a service provider, all fully charged working cell phones are able to dial 911 for emergency services. Peaceful Paths will accept old cell phones and their accessories (batteries, chargers) and give them directly to their clients, victims of domestic abuse, so that they will be able to call for help in any emergency situation.
Peaceful Paths will also take donations of cell phones without accessories. These phones can be turned in to a recycling center for cash, which helps Peaceful Paths keep their doors open.
Beorn has made collecting old cell phones and their accessories his project through September 8th, 2006. He has set up collection centers at the following locations:
[various collection locations listed]
Won't you please join Beorn today in helping victims of Domestic Abuse protect themselves and their loved ones? Your most generous donations are sincerely appreciated!
Towards the end of the meal, the Rabbi called upon me to say a few words. Here is what I said:
Several years ago, Congregation B’nai Israel hosted a program which featured a married couple who were professional story tellers. They told many Jewish folktales, but one really touched my heart. As soon as I heard it, I knew I would use it for my speech for this Bar Mitzvah.
I searched the internet for the story (no title was given at the program), but was only able to find summaries of the tale. So I paraphrased it a little. I hope it touches your heart like it did mine.
There once was a young boy who was gifted academically. He studied with teacher after teacher, always surpassing their knowledge in a short time. Finally, he was sent to the wisest teacher known in their community.
This teacher was so wise that he was able to give the community all kinds of helpful information. He could tell them when it would rain so they knew when to plant their crops. He could tell them when the frost would come so they would know when to harvest. He could tell them what was wrong with them so they could get over their illnesses.
At first the young boy was ecstatic. Anything he wanted to know, his master could tell him. But, as he matured, he wanted to best his master at least once. So he decided to test him and prove that he could make a mistake and that he really didn’t know everything. He studied and studied, coming up with more and more esoteric questions based on Torah and Talmud. But every time he tried, the master always knew the answer. He was always able to quote the passage or source where the young man was searching for his answer.
One day, out of frustration, the young man came up with a plan. He would catch a baby bird and approach his master with it cupped in his hands. He would then ask his master what he had in his hands, and whether it was alive. Even if the master knew that it was a baby bird, the young man could still have an advantage. If he should say it’s alive, the young man planned to push his hands together and the bird would be killed. If he should say that it’s dead, the young man would open his hands and reveal the living bird. Either way, thought the young man, he would better his master.
So the young man caught a baby bird and went looking for his master. When he found him, he asked him to come out. The master came out and said, “Yes, my son. What can I do for you?” And the young man held out his cupped hands with the bird in them and said, “Master, I have two questions for you. First, what do I have in my hands?” The teacher looked at the student and then at the student’s hands and said, “Why, you have a baby bird in your hands.” The boy answered, “Yes. Is it alive or is it dead?” The teacher looked at the boy’s hands and then at the boy and said, “My son, the choice is in your hands.”
And so it is with your Jewish education. Daddy and I have done our best to provide you with the opportunities to study and learn what it means to be a Jew. With the help of the fabulous Gainesville Jewish community, we have sent you to Ramah Darom and religious school, as well as Camp Gan Israel and youth group.
Now comes the point in your life where the semi-weekly exposure to Judaism through religious school no longer applies, and you start to make choices for yourself. This does not mean we won’t insist on you going to services, Judaica High School, and youth group! But as you mature and prepare yourself to leave home for college, the choice of embracing Judaism and making it a fundamental part of you is up to you.
You did wonderfully this afternoon, and we know you will do just as well leading us in saying good-bye to Shabbes. We are so proud of you, and love you.
Right after I finished up, Beorn came waltzing back into the Social Hall from the bathroom. He didn’t hear a word I said!! Argh!!! I think I’ll sit him down and read it to him again at some point this coming weekend.
Then Beorn led us in Birkat HaMazon (the Grace after Meals, also in Hebrew), and we returned to the sanctuary for Beorn to lead us in ma’ariv (evening service) and Havdalah, the service that separates the Shabbes from the regular week. All of which is also done in Hebrew.
For Havdalah, we use a braided candle, a spice box, and a cup of wine. I got small Havdalah candles and paper bobeche, and made up small gusset bags with some chai tea and had the two ushers hand one of each to the guests as they returned to the sanctuary so they could take part in the Havdalah service. Everyone kept asking how were we going to light the candles, and I told them we had it covered.
After ma’ariv, the rabbi called me up, and I read the following corny poems while Beorn held the lit Havdalah candle so those honored by being called up could light the candle they were given:
Candle Lighting Poems
Poppie and Grandma:
The music in your hearts
Shines forth in all you do
Poppie and Grandma, come light your candles
As I say “I Love You!”
Aunt Sue and Uncle John:
Although you live in Pennsylvania
You see me when you can
Aunt Sue’s singing and
Uncle John’s photos
Make me your number one fan
Uncle Jerry and Aunt Angie:
For years we had lost touch
Then you moved near-by
With Uncle Jerry and Aunt Angie
In my life I never have to cry
Uncle Mel and Aunt Helaine:
Every Pesach we go down
To Uncle Mel and Aunt Helaine’s
Now it’s their turn to visit me
And my joy is plain
Andy and Lenny:
From the beginning Andy and Lenny
Have been there to raise a cheer
Come up you two, light a candle--
It’s my Bar Mitzvah year!
Dani and Grady:
I’ve known Dani since day one
Then Grady came to the stage
Let your light fill this performance
Now that I’ve come of age
Cheryl and Connie:
At first in Elementary and now in High School,
And in the afternoon,
Jewish Education is a constant refrain
When you call the tune
And though I'd rather have played around,
You both gave me the drive, so
Miss Cheryl and Miss Connie,
Come keep the flames alive!
ORSH: (Beorn’s Elementary School)
My education started right
Because of all you do
Folks from The One Room School House
May your candles always burn true
ALC: (Beorn’s Current School, said with a Rap beat)
Two grand a year in fuel
Barely gets me to school
Its easy to see
That the ALC
Is where the people are cool!
Our group is small but joyful
We’ve been together every year:
B’nai Mitzvot class of 2006 come light your candles
And help everyone else who is here!
Paul was still sitting in the front pew, and he said the front where everyone was gathered with their candles was brightly lit and gorgeous. :::happy sigh:::
Then those honored returned to their seats and helped the others in the congregation light their candles. Beorn handed the large Havdalah candle he had been holding to a six year old friend whose four year old sister held a tray beneath the candle to catch the dripping wax. A b’nai mitzvot classmate held the Kiddush cup while his 11 year old sister held the spice box.
Once everyone’s candle was lit, and they had their small spice bag, Beorn chanted the blessings in Hebrew. At the appropriate palces, everyone held up a hand to the light of their candle, and sniffed the fragrance of the spice bag. The rabbi then poured some wine onto the tray and placed the wick of the burning candle into it to extinguish the flame. Everyone else blew their candle out.
As the lights came up, the Rabbi glanced up and stated, “I hope the smoke detectors don’t go off.” It is the first time anyone did a community Havdalah service with everyone having a candle at our sanctuary. It was all over by 8:45 PM.