Our family was blessed recently when we celebrated the Bar Mitzvah of my grandson, Kamren. My son and both my grandsons have now been Bar Mitzvah at Congregation B'nai Israel. The evening before Kamren's Bar Mitzvah, we became nostalgic and brought out the box of items from my son Matthew's Bar Mitzvah. I found a card to him with a note written be one of my dear friends.
Following is the message he wrote to my son:
Although it is hard for you to understand this now, at your tender age, today you have received a great gift, one that you will carry with you always through life. No, not the checks or other material gifts, but the gift of your Jewish heritage. It was so touching, and so true, to hear how this heritage is expressed in your family through four generations. I know that someday you will cherish your Great Uncle's Tallit and Great Grandfather's Teffilin. Our heritage is incredibly rich and offers a very valuable guide to everyday life; as you learn more in the years ahead you will see that.
But, being Jewish is also an awesome responsibility, the hopes of all Jews present and the memory of all Jews past, rest now on your shoulders.
Yes, YOUR shoulders. You must do your part to secure the future of the Jewish people. It would be the most tragic and ultimate irony if we succeeded through apathy, where Hitler failed by force - the elimination of the Jewish people.
You have been given something precious beyond imagination and more wondrous and practical than you now know. Something that has lasted 3,000 years, outlasted Roman, Greek, Egyptian, etc., civilizations and survived despite murderous attempts though centuries to annihilate us.
You are so lucky to have this gift. The Torah, your Jewish heritage. Jewish life is sturdy, but demands attention and care - like a
baby. Don't drop it. Love it."
This was written as a message to a Bar Mitzvah boy, but I see it as a message to all of us. Every Jewish person should take this message to heart and live accordingly.