Good Morning and welcome to all our family and friends. My family and I are so happy you could join us today. As you all know, this is not a typical Bar-Mitzvah as I am not a typical kid. In fact when I was born, I really threw my parents for a loop as I was not exactly what they had expected.
You may also know my favorite thing to do is ride horses and sometimes no matter how I hold the reigns my horse doesn’t always go in the direction I expect it to go. It’s kinda like the story my mom tells when people ask about me. It’s actually an essay by Emily Perl Kingsley. I am going to ask my mom to read it now.
We are often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to imagine how it would feel…..
It is like this…
When you’re going to have a baby, it is like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The Gondolas of Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It is all very exciting.
After months of anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bag and off you go. Several hours later the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, ‘Welcome to Holland’. ‘Holland? ‘ you say. ‘What do you mean Holland? I signed up for Italy! ! ! I am supposed to be in Italy. All my life I have dreamed of going to Italy! ‘.
But there has been a change in flight plan, they have landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they have not taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It is just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guidebooks. And you must learn a new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met before. It is just a different place. It’s slower paced than Italy. It’s less flashy than Italy. But after you have been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills, Holland has tulips, and Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy and they are all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life you will say, ‘Yes, that is where we were supposed to go, That’s where we had planned’.
And the pain of that will never, ever go away, because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss. But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t go to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.
Sure, this journey has been more challenging at times. And, yes, Holland is slower paced than Italy and less flashy than Italy, but this too has been an unexpected gift. We have learned to slow down and look closer at things, with a new appreciation for the remarkable beauty of Holland with its’ tulips, windmills and Rembrandts.
We have come to love Holland and call it Home.
We have become world travelers and discovered that it doesn’t matter where you land. What’s more important is what you make of your journey and how you see and enjoy the very special, the very lovely, things that Holland, or any place, has to offer.
Yes, over a decade ago we landed in a place we hadn’t planned. Yet we are thankful…, for this destination has been richer than we could have imagined!
My Torah portion that my Uncle Ralph, Aunt Sabina and Dad read for me today is about Jacob’s dream of angels coming and going up and down a ladder to heaven. This is very similar to the story my mom read. We all have dreams and wonder where God is. We question is he here or there? And where is he. When actually if you stop and look God is everywhere. When Jacob set the stone on the ground where he was and he said..I didn’t realize it but..
God is in this place! Just as God is in Holland, God is in Italy he is everywhere. God is in this place.
13 years ago all my mom and dad were told is you have a unique son we have no idea who he will become….take him home, love him and enjoy him. Many roller coaster rides later here I stand today as a Bar-Mitzvah.
I want to thank Mrs. Judy for her vision to make this happen and working with me even when I didn’t want to do any work (only socialize). Ms. Berman..thank you for being Ms. Judy’s right hand and helping me too. Rabbi thank you for believing in Mrs. Judy that she knew I could do this, supporting our creativity and helping my mom and dad. Hazzan thank you for helping my dad with his torah portion and helping my sister with her prayers. Speaking of sisters, Rayna you are the best sister a brother could ever have. Thanks for helping me practice and doing my prayers for me. Oh and that guitar..you are awesome!
A special thanks to my Papa and Gabedy for all their love and support and by the way…thanks for not bugging mom and dad about what I was going to do…so did I surprise you??
Grandma Charms… I know this was not easy for you but Pop pop is here… I woke up Sheldon with my first song. Thanks for taking that long trek to get here and always being there when mom & dad need you. Mama and Mimi… you always believed in me and just as God is in this place so are you.
Thank all of you for coming to be with my family and me today. It’s been quite a journey and we are all the richer because of it.