ZoĂŤ Juniper Massman-Johnson
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Dear Family & Friends,
We are so glad you are here with us as we celebrate Jesse becoming a bar mitzvah. This ceremony is far from traditional, imbued with its own elements of spirituality and questioning. When we undertook this journey, it was mainly in an effort toward cultural literacy. We werent’ even sure if we believed in God. But we knew we believed in community and in healing the world. Today, Jesse is called to the Torah to share a story from its’ passages and to mark his own passage into adulthood. In the Jewish tradition, “bar” means “son of” and “mitzvah” means “commandment”, but we’ve come to know it today as “a kind, ethical deed.” Jesse now takes his place in a larger community with new awareness and responsibility, with a commitment to help repair what’s imperfect in the world around him. At the same time, he is of the age to recognize and further explore his own unique, personal spiritual connections. Special thanks to Deanna Neil whose passion, creativity and joyful energy guided Jesse in his preparation for today. As always, Maj has her hand in every piece of this, and it’s beautiful because of her. Adam, Lisa, Lara and Wally have provided unparalleled moral support. And finally, we’d like to thank Beebe, Chris, Gaby, JC, Kristin and Todd for being themselves and helping in every way. Trying to write about love is ultimately like trying to have a dictionary represent life. No matter how many words there are, there will never be enough. Simply, we are grateful. With love, Shana and John
Hinei Ma Tov PHASELLUS VIVERRA NULLA ... UT METUS VARIUS LAOREET.
Hinei ma tov u’ma na’eem ... shevet acheem gam yachad. Behold how great it is that we can live happily together. 1. On Community
Community is important in Judaism, fusing the idea of an ethnicity and a religion. When there was a temple in Jarusalem, it became the nerve center of Jewish life. Now that Jews are spread across the world, home, synagogues or other local institutions serve as communal centers. When I think of community I think of support, warmth and caring. I see a group of people, celebrating, relaxing, and sharing in joy or even pain together. I find this in my life with friends and family. Sitting around my kitchen table—people are always there. That becomes my community. Riding the bus to schoo, when I have all of the people who live so far away coming together. That becomes my community. Community can present challenges, as well. Sometimes I find it hard to be very involved and feel disconnectedfrom those in surrounding groups. I wonder: What happens when people don’t fit in? Take country clubs, for example. Are communities inherently exclusive? Do we need boundaries in order to have a community?