WOW.......I know that all parents and families gush when their child becomes a Bar Mitzvah, and I am sure that I will feel David and Jacob have been incredible when they too reach the magical age of 13 and I celebrate with them at their Bar Mitzvot, but I believe that there is something truly magical about Matthew.
See, Matthew lives life in a magical way....whether you knew Matthew well or not, if you have talked to Matthew in the past year, you were likely invited to attend his Bar Mitzvah. He was so excited, that he was oozing joy and wanted the world to celebrate alongside him.
No matter how many times I tried to explain to him that the world is not invited to anyone's BarMitzvah, I could not get him to contain his joy and allow me to create the guest list. Similarly, even as late as the night of the Bar Mitzvah, he was asking people if they were attending his party. Random people he didn't know, who simply had come to services on Friday night, were asked if they were coming to dinner and to celebrate. Thankfully, the world did not take Matthew up on his offer to attend the party, but the chapel was significantly more full than I think most of us expected on July 4. I was not sure if we would get most of my family to attend given that it was a Friday in July and a holiday weekend, and I was not at all positive that I would have as many friends as ended up coming because July 4 weekend is often a time that people go away. I cannot imagine celebrating this occasion however without each and every person who was in that room because each person has been a part of Matthew's journey.
From our family who was there to greet Matthew within hours of him entering my world, to camp staff who met Matthew as soon as he was allowed to enter New York State, to teachers who worked with me and had no idea I was on the journey to adopt a son, but welcomed him with open arms.....the room was full of love. In addition, all of the people who have cared for Matthew as therapists, respite workers, babysitters, and all of the friends who have stood by me and my parents on the journey of raising Matthew.....the room was simply full of love!
Matthew has always had a passion for Judaism. He has always questioned where God was, and how he makes the world work. He is a child who sang Jewish songs, but could not sing the ABC's. He is a child who knew the Hebrew Alphabet before he could read even 3 letter words. He is a child who has had fits and anger outbursts everywhere, but never, not once, at Temple. It is as if Temple is Matthew's safe place. It is his sanctuary. As such, Matthew is the most pure Matthew, when he is studying Judaism or feeling the love of being Jewish.
Matthew set a high bar for himself as he planned how he would lead his Bar Mitzvah service. I am blessed to be part of a Temple who is experienced and who allows each Bar Mitzvah to guide how much of the service they lead. When Matthew was shown his options, he himself set the bar higher than I think most of us would have set it for him. He wanted to read the Vahavta prayer, and so he was taught it. I thought he should be taught to chant his Torah portion because he is so musical, but the Cantor told me that he has to read it BEFORE he can chant it, and so he learned to read it like all other students.
It wasn't until Thursday night at rehearsal that I saw that Matthew was going to truly read from the Torah. I assumed that he would lay a piece of paper over the Torah and that he would read from this paper. Instead, my son who struggles to read english, read from the Torah- a document that contains no vowels. Imagine reading a foreign language. Now imagine reading it with no vowels. Now imagine reading it with no vowels after only practicing it this way a handful of times and in front of 150 people. This is what Matthew did, and he did it with no errors! I cried, my dad cried, the congregation cried. It was truly a moment that sent shivers down my spine.
This child has lived life on the edge. He has struggled. He has climbed mountains most adults don't climb. He struggles daily to learn. He struggles daily to understand the rules of life, and yet he perseveres. He succeeds! He excels! Sure, he had some Matthew moments during the service, but it wouldn't have been his service without them........upon being given the Challah, bread, after the prayer, he commented that "thankfully, NOW he could eat......" Many times he responded out loud with quips and commentary, but it was funny and it was as only Matthew could be! It was genuine and true and Matthew all the way through!
After the party, which was filled with more love than I ever knew existed, we came home and Matthew opened his presents and cards. This was when for me I got to truly witness the miracle that was his Bar Mitzvah. First, Matthew insisted on reading each and every card. I am still not sure that he understands or appreciates the gifts he received, because to him the cards were so cherished.
As it was midnight, I would have happily rushed through the cards and gone back to them tomorrow, but he read each and every word. What was incredible was to realize that most cards contained the same words and I got to witness his struggles. This same child who had commanded the service and made it appear so effortless, struggled to read each and every card. At the service he read words like "soverign", "advocate", and "kindle", but in each card the words "congratulations", "success" and "special" caused him to stumble. This only proved to me the intense effort that had gone in from Matthew and his teachers to making his Bar Mitzvah the true success it was.
I am Matthew's mom. For years I have wanted nothing more than for Matthew to have his moment. We have had so many years when there was no one to invite to his birthday party. When he has begged for a sleepover or for a friend. We have had so many years of struggle. Matthew needed a day to shine......Matthew has earned a day like he had on Friday for his Bar Mitzvah! This day showed me all that matthew has to offer the world, and all of the people who's lives Matthew has touched! There are not many Matthew Bloom's in this world! he is one of the most generous, kind, caring people I know with a heart of gold. He can be exhausting as I try to care for him and meet his needs, but he can also be hysterical! Friday night was all about all of the amazingness that is Matthew! Friday night Matthew shined! It will be a day that I will never ever forget! My boy is a Bar Mitzvah! My boy is a Jewish Adult! Few have worked as hard as he did to earn this honor! Few have been more deserving! My heart swells with pride, my eyes gleam with respect, my cup overflows with love!
- I am a single mom of three amazing boys! All three of my sons entered my family through adoption. All three of my boys have developmental disabilities. My oldest son, Matthew has been diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Bipolar Disorder. David, my middle son, has a genetic condition, he has a duplication on his 15th chromosome which leads to autism like symptoms, seizures and learning challenges. My youngest son, Jacob has learning disabilities. Each of my children bring unique challengs to our family and also bring their own personality and joys to our everyday life!