As the world has changed, so has the manner in which we celebrate simcha in our community. We must discover joy during heartbreak. In pre-pandemic times, our B’nai Mitzvah would gather with their families and the Sinai Temple daily minyan in Kohn Chapel prior to Shabbat, wrap themselves in tallit, don tefillin, and for the first time, recite the brachot over the Torah.
Today, we have instituted a kabbalat Torah, a ceremony of receiving the Torah. The Thursday before a child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah, we now deliver a Torah to the child’s home. We recite the brachot, adorn ourselves in the tallit, wrap tefillin, and begin the celebration in a socially distanced outdoor space.
This week, in arranging for a kabbalat Torah, the young man’s family told me, “Rabbi, please don’t bring a Torah, we have our own.” As I entered the backyard, I saw a gorgeous Sephardic Torah decorated in an elaborate case. The boy’s mother explained, “This Torah was written in memory of my father, Geulah.” Geulah means redemption. A true story of redemption: a young man celebrating his Bar Mitzvah, reading the words from the Torah written to honor his grandfather who came before him.
May we each find these moments of geulah as we traverse these rocky waters searching for calmer seas.