Being Welcome into Another’s Home

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending my very first Bar Mitzfah, a former student of mine. Without ever stepping inside a temple before, I wasn’t too sure what to expect. And if you try to search the internet and do a little research, the variety is almost endless.

I think it’s a great growing experience to step outside ones familiar surroundings, and I think it varies what each person learns.

Detail of a window at the Temple Di Hirsch Sanai in Seattle

First, my anxiety was eased by a feeling of welcome. There was never a feeling of ‘you’re not one of us’. The synagog/temple was stunningly beautiful and did not look too different from some of the Catholic churches I grew up with.

Second, the ceremony was clearly a rite of passage steeped in thousands of years of tradition, and one that obviously involved a lot of preparation on the part of a 13-year-old.

What I really noticed was that all the passages and readings from the Torah (even if you took out the religious references) were ones that any human could relate to. Having faith in oneself to take risks, make good choices, and learn from mistakes were a common theme. Another message was that we strive to do good with the intention to leave the world a better place than how we found it. Yet, we  are human and will sometimes make mistakes. In essence – we learn.

I was really touched throughout the ceremony, but mostly because I was very proud of my former student’s success and his mom’s as well.

Finally, the reason this experience is appearing here on this blog is because it reminds me of the importance of the tenets of multicultural and diversity education. Whether that diversity is in religious beliefs, culture, orientation, political ideology, the most important thing is to ensure a feeling of belonging. Today I was a little worried that I was going to be an outsider peering in, but I felt welcomed instantly.

Our schools, classrooms, and curriculum need to be places where everyone feels like they belong. The act of learning itself, from taking risks and making mistakes, or wanting to work to make this world a better place for future generations, are values that cross cultures and beliefs. The more we explore differences, it’s not surprising that we often find many similarities.

CS and MS thanks for always being so welcoming and including me in your special day. It was wonderful and I enjoyed every minute of it. You both should be very proud.

Shabbat Shalom!



2 thoughts on “Being Welcome into Another’s Home

  1. I agree, Anthony. It was a beautiful exerperience to see our former student conduct himself with such poise in the middle of so much attention as he carefully chanted the ancient Hebrew passages from the Torah and other texts, through the thorough and meaningful bar mitzvah ceremony. I was impressed by the spirit of inclusiveness too at this particular Temple. I was also impressed by the references to the importance of having a community of family and friends that is much larger than ourselves and giving them credit for the good lives we enjoy today. Paying homage to ancestors and giving a place for those in “active mourning” was just so real. I did not sense the flash and glitter that some churches rely on now. This was about passing down ancient traditions and customs that have obviously worked well, as the Jewish faith has survived attemtp after attempt to snuff it out.

    In modern America, 2010, there are few positive “coming of age” traditions left, so most teens are left to find and chart their own paths. I have admiration for the Jewish “coming of age” ceremony and the secure anchor and foundation it provides for Jewish teens and young adults.

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Being Welcome into Another’s Home | Seconds --

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s