Moishey's Bar Mitzvah

When we walked through our door at 2:45 a.m. after Moishey's Bar Mitzvah, I said to my husband, "You know, Moishey is not just our child; he is the community's child!"

If we ever had our doubts about Moishey's acceptance within, and endearment to our community, his Bar Mitzvah week cast all those doubts aside.

Starting with his beautiful 'aliyah' of 'Maftar' two Shabboses before his Bar Mitzvah, his 'aliyah' of 'Cohain' the Shabbos immediately preceding the Bar Mitzvah (that was his actual birthdate), the grand Shalosh Seudas in Brashover Shul, where Moishey made a short speech thanking the Rav and congregation (it earned him a standing ovation!), the Rav's speech lauding Moishey's 'contributions' as a shul member, and on and onů The euphoria climaxed on Tuesday evening, August 27, '02 with the actual catered event lasting into the night and the wee hours of the morning.

After agonizing for weeks over our invitation list (the whole town wanted to come!) we finally made peace with a guest roster that included relatives and friends close to our hearts whose lives had become enmeshed in Moishey's and ours over the years.

Moishey made us proud from the first minute that the affair started. He cooperated beautifully with the photographer and we have shots of him that lay doubt to his Down syndrome. He was poised, charming, and well mannered to all. Moishey sat quietly through the speeches, as though understanding and absorbing every word that was spoken. His own speech, which consisted of three pages, one in Yiddish and the remaining two in English, was a performance worthy of an Oscar award. Moishey was enthusiastic, had no stage fright whatsoever, and was all smiles to his enraptured audience. For approximately ten minutes he delighted us with his pauses for applause when he thanked special people, his special glances and smiles at the persons he was talking about and his acknowledgement of everybody and everything that was going on around him. As soon as he finished, the guests burst into applause and song, with dancing that shook the floors and walls. The lines of well-wishers both to my husband and myself, after the 'pshetl', was quite intimidating and almost embarrassing; it kind of looked like a big Rebbe was being celebrated. And truthfully, as awful as it sounds when a new baby with special needs is born and the parents are told, "You must be special because you were chosenů", on the night of Moishey's Bar Mitzvah we certainly felt very, very special to have been chosen to be this precious child's parents and those throngs of well-wishers were certainly well-received.

The entertainment and dancing lasted until way past midnight, with the guests not wanting it to ever end. Entertainers dazzled the audience with their renditions of chazanus, an ode written and sung specifically for the occasion as a tribute to special parents and their children (there was not a dry eye in the place), a five-piece band of volunteer musicians, high-ranking entertainers, etc. All came excitedly and voluntarily, not wanting to accept our 'thank you's', for it was they who thanked us for letting them partake in such a special simcha.

When it was all over, one guest announced, "See you tomorrow night! I'm coming back for Sheva Brochos!"