Sunday, June 21, 2015

Choice. Chose. Choose. Chosen.

No description needed.
The day of Youngest Son's Bar Mitzvah was Perfect. I rarely describe anything as Perfect. A day of family celebrating faith, tradition and hope.

We chose a less traveled path for Youngest Son to complete this important Jewish milestone. Rabbi Evon of Adventure Rabbi ( was Youngest Son's teacher. They met weekly for three months on Skype to learn together and to talk and to find meaning in this moment. Two days prior to the Bar Mitzvah we met Rabbi Evon in person in South Lake Tahoe ... we were reminded of Rabbi Adam and that was a good thing indeed. Rabbi Evon made it all so comfortable for us.

The next adjective I have for the day is Personal. We envisioned a day on the mountain surrounded by nature. The same prayers, the familiar melodies and the sacred words of Torah have been and will be said countless times and were repeated by Youngest Son. How can this be Personal? Our literal chosen path up the wooded mountain with our chosen Rabbi with friends who are our chosen family defined the bold lines of the day. As we hiked up the winding path, Rabbi Evon gave all an opportunity to provide Youngest Son with their stories or thoughts. Oldest Son described how his brother always chooses his own different path even on this day; there are so many layers to that one simple commentary - too much for this simple blog post.

Youngest Son chose the right spot for our group overlooking the blue lake beside the rushing waterfall and on the rocky edge. Then came the three original writings from Youngest Son about Shabbat and Social Action and then his D'var Torah. Rabbi Evon, Commuter Husband and I all spoke to Youngest Son about his past, his present and his future framed by our observations and our wishes. This Bar Mitzvah was a shared experience with all parties who chose to travel to this spot and actively participate in this moment of Jewish community.

And Youngest Son sounded his Shofar! This is the Shofar that Youngest Son chose in Israel and that traveled to Dallas and had journeyed with us to South Lake Tahoe. This is the same Shofar that Youngest Son blasts on High Holy Days at Temple Emanu-El in Dallas.

A form of the word "chose" is used many times in this narrative. We are a family of Jews who chose this religion; Jews by Choice. It is only fitting that this religion allows us to choose our own path literally and figuratively. We will respect the traditions and the teachings of Judaism while honoring our individual voices. One of my wishes for Youngest Son on that day was that he will continue to choose Judaism as the foundation of his spirituality.

My Youngest Son is 13 years old and this independent, strong-willed, determined, smart, creative, thoughtful, giving, beautiful person will have no problem making his choices and having a loud clear voice ... thank you G-d.

At the trail head for Cascade Falls Hike
WOW ... our first great view
Rabbi Evon gathering us to share our thoughts with Youngest Son 
Sam with Kiddish - like that water bottle of wine?
This is the Torah!! In the "Ark"
Song and Prayer and Nature
Youngest Son leading service
Rabbi Evon always there to help and Commuter Husband looking on ...
We Sit ... and ...

We Stand
The Torah
It is super small Hebrew!!
A picture worth a thousand words ...
Emotional Dad 
SOUND the SHOFAR! Perfect and Personal.
Our great photographer Brandi ( hiked up with us to capture these breath taking photos ...

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Morning of Bar Mitzvah

I have watched the sun rise over the Lake Tahoe mountains and the fog roll through the valley. I am listening to the birds sing to each other. I am filled with emotion to see Youngest Son Bar Mitzvah later this morning.

The past couple days have been Perfect.

We met with our truly amazing Rabbi Tuesday afternoon over latte, coke and local brew beer. We planned the service and Youngest Son practiced from the Torah that we will carry up the mountain. Commuter Husband, Youngest Son and I left feeling confident and excited.

Wednesday morning was cloudy and rainy. We had planned a morning boating adventure on Lake Tahoe. Youngest Son made the call to "go for it." On Baldwin Beach, we met our Boat Captain as the rain sprinkled down. We were the ONLY people in sight! We donned wet suits and headed out onto the lake that was smooth as glass.

We water skiied and tubed for three hours on the frigid, clear blue water. The sun peeped through for a few minutes. SO FUN - We are warriors for sure!! The two moms even rose up on the water skis on  the first try - ha!

We returned to our crazy, fun house and sat in the outdoor hot tub for  two hours telling stupid jokes and eating berries. Our house clearly used to be  a ski bum crash pad. It is large and winding and has a nutty lay out. However, we have a pool table, ping pong table,foosball table, huge kitchen, clean comfortable beds for all and stunning views.

Most importantly has been the continuous sounds of laughter. 


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A Shofar

This morning we leave for South Lake Tahoe. Commuter Husband, Oldest Son, Youngest Son and I will  board our Spirit flight with four backpacks and one shofar. The shofar is cloaked in a black velvet case with an outline of Jerusalem. This particular shofar was purchased for Youngest Son in Israel when Oldest Son had his Bar Mitzvah. This shofar will journey with us to a mountain trail and Youngest Son will announce his entry into Jewish adulthood with the startling yet familiar blasts. Youngest Son's Bar Mitzvah reaches its destination this week.