Ethan - "Son of Commandment"
Living in Toronto encourages many cultures to merge with one another. It is a city that screams diversity and opens its arms for all to experience. One of the lane ways that permits this mixing of cultures is the workplace.
Many friendships are forged in the office and then carried over to our personal lives. About 10 years back I built a relationship with a woman who entered my life through a United Way campaign but stayed in my life because of our similar beliefs. You asked what did we share? We shared passion for our culture, passion for kids, a desire to continuously excel at work, love for food and belief in God. She was Jewish and I was a Christian. I was from the Caribbean and she was from Florida, different but very similar.
Over the course of us working together I began to understand the things that were important to her. There were two to be exact: food and her family. Like clockwork, every day at noon if this woman did not eat she turned into a bear, just thinking about it makes me laugh out loud, but that’s another story. Even more important than food was her family. Her love and dedication for her kids and husband was one to be admired. Each year she would begin planning the summer camp her children would attend around October of the prior year, and let’s just say camp wasn’t cheap. But, for her she knew what camp meant for her son and 11-year old daughter and so this was an annual cost her family would never sacrifice. Another important event for her family and culture was that of her son’s Bar Mitzvah.
When I received my invitation, months before the day, I was excited because I knew this was going to be an extravaganza. A year of planning ahead, with an event coordinator and sourcing out entertainment, food and prizes was sure to deliver an experience we’d all be talking about for months.
The service at the synagogue was beautiful. It called for her son, Ethan, to dedicate 8 months of his time in Hebrew school so he could deliver a d’var Torah (a word of Torah) during the ceremony. It was during this preparation time that Ethan would be reminded that the purpose of the commandments are to keep his life focused on the important things: a relationship with God, family, and community. Ethan became Bar Mitzvah, a sort of coming of age so to speak. One that he is obligated in the commandments as a young man to be called up to the Torah. Ethan was articulate, passionate and convincing as he read the Haftorah in that traditional melody. The nods of approval and smiles on his parents faces showed just how proud they were of their son.
As the ceremony ended and we moved over for lunch and later the reception; I could see traces of my girlfriend’s hard work in planning shining at every corner, table setting and details in the room coming to life. She had out done herself and made sure all who attended enjoyed themselves immensely. There were multiple food stations, candy tables, a photo booth, entertainment team, DJ, singer, dancing and so much more going on that honestly, I wasn’t bored for a second.
This was one of the highlights of my year. It reconfirmed my belief in unity in diversity and allowed a Jewish tradition to show me how this friendship has been a Shade of Influence in my life.