A Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah ceremony is supposed to represent the introduction of a young Jewish individual into Jewish life and Jewish practice. It is supposed to mark the start of Jewish ritual life. More often than not, however, it serves as the end of it. All too often, the first time a young Jew reads from the Torah or chants a Haftarah is also the last time.
This isn’t the case with a young member of my congregation named Alex Tessier. I had the pleasure of preparing Alex for his Bar Mitzvah, which took place last February at Beth Jacob Synagogue. He did superbly, of course. What is remarkable about Alex is that he understood that the Bar Mitzvah was indeed an introduction. It was also clear that he enjoyed challenging himself.
So, as part of my L’dor Vador Young Leaders Program, where I create opportunities to involve youth in services, we agreed that he would read the third aliyah of Parashat Vayeshev on Saturday, November 23. Through a combination of working together and working on his own, Alex learned his aliyah and chanted it flawlessly. And this time, it took a lot less time to get ready; the more you do it, the easier it gets.
His mother, Lainie, and family were deservedly proud – but this pride goes beyond Alex’s family. It extends to the entire congregation. Older members of the synagogue see a young man taking on our traditions and are encouraged to know that our heritage is in the good hands of our younger generation. Also, the teens and pre-teens are inspired to see one of their peers participate in such a meaningful way in services.
Yishar koach to Alex! I look forward to his continued involvement in services.