Today was my cousin's youngest son's bar mitzvah. Tzvi turned 13 according to the Jewish calendar yesterday, and it was sensible to hold his bar mitzvah today, on the Shabbat when family and friends could gather from all over Israel as well as from New York.
We last saw Tzvi over Sukkot for a brief time. Back then he was a lively, somewhat chubby boy whose primary focus was on Legos and soccer. Today I met a tall young man with an engaging smile, who is still ery mucj interested in Legos, but who is very much aware that he is now a bar mitzvah. He counts in the minyan and he is fully accountable under Jewish law. Of course he is only a teenager, and a young one at that, who is about to make all the mistakes of the teenage years, but with the knowledge that he is viewed as an adult at least in one place. I can see many a "Mom, I'm an adult, duh!" conversations between him and my cousin, but I don't doubt his parents have learned with their two eldest how to handle that!
Tzvi was reading Torah and leading the congregation in prayer today. He was confident, knowing that he was prepared for the day--what a contrast to the last bar mitzvah I went to where the poor youngster was very nervous about having to read Hebrew aloud, which, he then absolved without any glitches, mind you. Tzvi was glowing and happy, and that happiness wasn't primarily addressed to all the bar mitzvah gifts he received, but for a job well done--a job according to the guidance of HaShem.
After the service at synagogue the family went to the Kotel, also known as the Western Wall, where prayers were offered and and there was much rejoicing.
Now the fact that the bar mitzvah was in Jerusalem, don't think that my cousin's family are some haredi, super religious family. They are not. But in their lives they find that balance between the profane and the sacred, that is so well symbolized by the candles if Friday even when the shabbat comes in, and at havdala the next evening when it goes out.
After kiddush at shul there was a party with music and dancing--yeah, it is not exactly Omer counting compliant -- and all those goodies after the Shabbat went out tonight. It was a multigeneration party as we celebrated the new bar mitzvah, we celebrated our own Jewish identity, the perseverence, the life, the miracles, and of course the family that raised such a fine young man to seek the wonders of HaShem.
Mazal tov, Tzvi, mazal tov!