|A BAR MITZVAH ENCOUNTER
by Rabbi Moshe Kempinski
|The strength of the Jewish people is expressed in their simple survival. Their continuing to flourish, grow and expand as a
people, is a consistent affront to the rules of logic and rationality. In the midst of the terror campaign being waged by the Palestinians and the "denial of legitimacy" campaign being conducted by some of the Nations of this world, the Jewish people continue to be faithful to their Destiny, their G-d and their people.
Every wedding celebration, every house warming, every coffeebreak in a sidewalk cafe is a statement of courage in a land beset
It is with these thoughts I set out with my family to a Bar Mitzvah celebration of a young relative in a small Jewish community
in the hills of Biblical Kiryat Yearim.
A small group of family and friends spent a wonderful shabbat together celebrating this young man's entry into spiritual and national responsibility. One couple, Nathan and his wife, good friends of the bar mitzvah boy's grandparents, joined the group
as well. Nathan had met the grandfather of the bar mitzvah boy in Canada, when he was a young refugee from the horrors of
the Nazis. It is then that his connection, and later his wife's, with the family established.
Towards the end of Shabbat, Nathan agreed to speak to the small group of us. Many years ago Nathan had become a
spokesman for those who could not speak anymore. He had become a much respected researcher and speaker on Holocaust related issues. He had travelled with the young Jews of North America back to visit the graveyards of Europe. He has spoken
at many schools, in an attempt to help the children understand the horrors of those years. Knowledge, no matter how painful,
is the greatest weapon in ensuring that such tragedies do not happen again.
Nathan felt especially impressed to speak to this small bar mitzvah group because in many ways this event, and others like it in his own family, was the true expressions of vindication and victory.
Nathan described his own bar mitzvah years in the ghetto of Lodz. He explained how listening to this young boy chant from the Torah, resolutely with a mixture of pride and promise was especially sweet. The Nazis had tried not only to destroy the
physical body of the Jewish people. They tried to destroy the sense of self worth, their faith and their dreams. Nathan said
that "the only weapon these Jews had was their lives". Those same Nazis who had tried to break the bodies souls of these
Jewish people were lying rotting in their graves.
On the other hand the broken bones of these people had been renewed. Their bodies filled out with flesh and sinew. They had begun their slow and painstaking return to their land. Their young people were again chanting the Torah portion in the cities and the villages. The sound of the bride and the groom were again being heard in the hills of Judea.
The prophecies of Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Isaiah all coming together in this delicate and moving encounter between a survivor of Auschwitz and a bright eyed Bar Mitzvah boy.
|Jerusalem Insights # 397 - a journal of insights, stories and Torah thoughts from Jerusalem's Old City
A project of SHORASHIM OF THE OLD CITY - Tiferet Israel #3 - Jerusalem 97500 - tel: 011-972-2-628-9729