A Love Letter to My Grandson on his 13th Birthday
Recently my grandson celebrated his thirteenth birthday, his Bar Mitzvah. In the Jewish Religion that birthday is considered a coming of age celebration. It’s when a young boy takes his initial symbolic steps into manhood. It is both a religious occasion and a joyous birthday party rolled into one great big milestone. And, whichever way you look at it, it is a very, very big deal.
In fact, no matter which religion you practice, caring for and nurturing a child from birth to thirteenth birthday definitely is a big deal for everyone involved. There have been sleepless nights, first steps, coughs, colds, broken ankles, daycare tears, kindergarten tears. And tears just because. There are loves, dreams, dreams shattered, arguments, exciting wins and heartbreaking losses.
Throughout the process the family is that child’s support. You watch them transform from toddler to tween to teenager. You feel their pain, try to be there to hug away their tears and take pride in the person they are becoming.
Here is my open love letter to my grandson, Josh on his Bar Mitzvah.
You are my oldest grandchild. When you were born I scoured the city for the softest, baby blue-est blanket I could find to keep you warm. I kept that blanket neatly folded in the crib I set up in my office, ready for when you were left in my care. You were so tiny and precious to me and I freely admit that when I put you to sleep in that crib I checked on you every five minutes to make sure that you were ok. And you were - secure, sleeping soundly, snuggled under that baby blue covering.
Today is your Bar Mitzvah, a very special milestone in your life and in the life of your family. In society’s eyes and in the eyes of the Jewish religion you go from being a much-loved boy to a much-loved man. Traditionally on this day you wear a Tallit for the first time.
The word Tallit originally meant ‘cloak,’ a rectangular piece of cloth that looked like a blanket and was worn by Jewish men in ancient times. Eventually over the years dress habits changed and the Tallit became a religious garment reserved only for prayer.
So, on this day we leave that long ago baby blue blanket behind. As a symbol of my continued love and protection I have been chosen to present you with your first Tallit, your Jewish prayer shawl. I ask you to wear it proudly and to strive to be a good person.
Never forget your Jewish roots and traditions. We all need a tribe to belong to and teachings to guide us.
Honour your parents. Their lessons are designed to prepare you for our great big world.
Be kind to your sister. She knows a lot of girls. As you both get older I promise this will be a definite asset for you.
Be kind to our planet. Keep it healthy for your own children and their children’s children.
Strive to make the world a more peaceful place. Be color blind; remember that under our skins we are all the same.
Travel as much as you can. Only by leaving your home and experiencing different cultures will you learn who you truly are.
And finally, please remember that no matter where you are in this big world and no matter what you are doing you can always count on me. I will endlessly love and support you.
Bubby (Grandma) Evy