Rhumba Through Life: To My Kids on Their B’nai Mitzvah

kiss_cutout My children became B’nai Mitzvah this weekend.  It was a wonderful event.  So happy and filled with family and friends.  And I was so proud of my kids.  Qvelling, as my people say. A lot of people have already asked for a copy of the speech I gave to my kids.  So here it is.  Enjoy.


When you guys were in second grade or so, Dad and I took you with us to our ballroom dancing class for your own lesson.  They taught you the Rhumba.  You were only kind of sort of into it.  But after a few bits of instruction, and maybe a few missteps – you were good at it.  And I remember thinking as I stood there, “is there anything more heartbreakingly sweet than watching your son and daughter dance the Rhumba?”

Well, having watched the two of you up here today – the answer is a resounding yes.

But it’s not just today. I’ve been watching you all year. Practicing apart, mostly, but for something you were working towards together.  Maybe one of you – I won’t say whom – wasn’t all that into it.  But you were good at it.  And in the past few weeks, I’ve watched and listened as you worked together. Practicing your parts, singing the songs, reading your speeches.

As you both mentioned in those speeches, we’ve been- as far as your Jewish education goes – kind of wandering Jews. We’ve tried ‘em all.  There was the school where the Rabbi told you the story of Adam and Eve was a myth.  Then the one where they told you that story was the foundation of everything…and finally, the one where they discussed the stories of the Torah without much emphasis on anything more than the story itself.

And I know that that wasn’t the easiest thing for you – all that moving around.  But what I was always looking for, (and yes, I’ll take the blame for all that wandering) was a way to make you feel connected to your Jewish roots.  Not to make you believers – because I know that for Avery that’s pretty seriously unlikely, and for Rachel, it’s already so  – But to give you a sense of community, of belonging to something greater than yourselves.

And watching both of you this past year studying with Phil has made me see that despite the wandering, or maybe because of it- you guys really have become part of the Jewish community.

Because  what you learned from all that moving around, was to look at things in different ways, that there’s not always one answer to any given question, that it’s OK to keep seeking. And that’s pretty Jewish, to see the world that way. I hope that as you go through life, you’ll continue to question the world around you. Challenge what you hear and read. Try to see things from every angle imaginable. I hope that whatever you choose to believe, you always believe in yourselves.  I hope that one day, you both feel the joy of watching your kids become Bar or Bat Mitzvah.   And as long as I’m hoping: I hope that when you do plan a party like this one, you find people as wonderful as Phil, and Amy to help you.  (Because if you don’t, you might not survive the experience.)

I hope you know how much your father and I love you.  How  proud of you we are.  Not just today – not just for learning to recite your Torah and Haf Torah – but for who you are: kind, funny smart, silly, crazy, infuriating, fabulous.

Lastly, I hope you know how lucky you are to have each other. It’s a special thing to have a twin to Rhumba through life with.  There may be times when you step on each other’s toes, or when you’re out of step, or when the rhythms of your lives don’t quite fit together.  But I hope you always keep that connection, leaning on each other, depending on each other for stability and support and sometimes grace.  I hope you dance through life –moving through your lives like a Rhumba – together, apart, together.



  1. Neshama Mousseau says

    Such beautiful words for what I am sure was a day filled with wonder. I am so happy for your family!

  2. marjorie lewis says

    Nachas — as they say even if they spell it differently — is what keeps the parental years going, I think. As for you, when you were just an adolescent kid so proud of your family I knew that the family you would create when you were “grown” was going to be a remarkable one. And you’ve done it — among so much else. Good for you! i assume Alan has a part in this so Good for him! Marge Lewis

  3. gail grossman says

    your words were beautiful and a family tradition of B’Nai Mitzvah shall continue, Mazel Tov to the entire family

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