Jared’s Bar Mitzvah was on 5 April 2014 and it was a fabulous and memorable event. Our guests were an eclectic mix of traditional North London Jews aged 18 to 80 and eccentric non-Jews aged 15 months to 60.
Most of the Jewish guests were from my family and used to Orthodox services. Most of the non-Jews were friends, many of whom are gay and had never set foot in a shul before.
Fortunately, Kehillah North London is an inclusive community and everything went swimmingly. Everyone remarked on how warm and welcoming the shul was and they all said how much they had enjoyed the service.
This was all the more remarkable because Jared’s family is rather alternative. I am Jewish. My partner, Carla, is a Brazilian atheist. Jared’s Dad was brought up Scottish Presbyterian and his partner Michael is agnostic. My ex-partner, Jackie, who also has an important role in Jared’s life, was raised as an Irish Catholic.
Add in my divorced parents, their respective partners and about 40 other guests and it could have been a very challenging morning. But it wasn’t. Having spent about 18 months preparing, Jared was a star. His Dvar Torah was thoughtful and profound and he read his Paresha, the Brachot and the Haftorah beautifully.
Rabbi Shulamit was really helpful with the Dvar Torah and she structured the service so that lots of Jared’s family could play a part. We had people opening and closing the Ark, dressing the Torah, holding it up and taking it round the shul.
My brother gave a beautiful opening reading and he and my Dad stood next to Jared while he read his Paresha – which was a very special moment for them. Rabbi Shulamit gave a lovely sermon and at the end of the service, my Mum and I each gave a closing blessing to Jared, which was very moving for us and I think all the guests too!
All in all, I know I am biased as Jared is my son but I thought it was the best Bar Mitzvah service I have ever been to.
Thank you Kehillah and thank you Rabbi Shulamit.