Not long ago, I blogged about the Sweetest Bar Mitzvah Moment. A few days later, I received this email from the same man (grandfather) about whom I wrote:
Dear Rabbi Paul,
You beat me to it. I was about to sit down to write a note to you expressing our appreciation for the beautiful service you and Cantor Cotler conducted on behalf of Ben and our family and friends.
I thought that I would check my email first. And there it was, the special tribute to the love Marianne and I share with each other. Now it is a little difficult to continue writing as both our eyes are filled with tears. Thank you for sharing.
And now it is my turn:
We have been members of a congregation all of our married years – 53 years and counting. We have always believed that it was important to maintain an affiliation with a synagogue. We felt it was an obligation to our community and a responsibility, as parents, to share our tradition with our family. However, until our daughter Ellen introduced us to Congregation Or Ami, we never really enjoyed attending services.
You are unique among rabbis and I can say the same about the Cantor. Prior to you, services were all about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses. You bring our religion into the real world, about today’s relationships with our family, our community and our world in ways we can all relate.
The comments by members of our family, and our daughter Ellen and son-in-law Mark’s friends and neighbors relating to the way you and Cantor Cotler conducted the service were glowing with praise. Several couples stated to us that they were seriously thinking about joining the congregation.
You have a great sensitivity to everyones’ needs. We have experienced the opening of the entire torah to the congregation with you before, and I am always fascinated with the length and the effort it takes to write it. It leaves quite an impression.
We were very touched at the High Holy Day services when you called to the Bimah and thanked the non-Jewish parents for their permission and help to allow their children to be brought up in the Jewish tradition. In all the years of attending services we have never seen that done. Again, it brought tears to our eyes.
In regards to Ben’s Bar Mitzvah. We appreciated your sensitivity in bringing our son-in-law Mark’s family into the service.
We saw Ben in a different light. He has always been the jock in the family, filling our weekends with some sort of athletic event. Although he is really a good student, we did not expect the kind of commitment he made to study for his Bar Mitzvah ceremony. We were proud.
Thank you for becoming part of our extended family. Our trip to Israel allowed us to enjoy a relationship with you, your wife, your father-in-law and your children. We relish and look fondly upon that experience.
With Love and Appreciation,
Marianne and Jim Mertzel