43-Year Old Bar Mitzvah

Please read my article in The Times of Israel called, “Bring Every Jew Back.”

Today in a beautiful Chabad synagogue here in Florida, the Rabbi called to the Torah a bar mitzvah.¬† But in this case, the bar mitzvah “boy” was a 43-year old man!

Read what happened and hope you enjoy! ūüėČ

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Power of Speech

I loved this magnet on this wonderful old Jewish ladies refrigerator who lives in our community.

“If you have nothing good to say…
Say nothing.”

I remember we used to talk about this saying in my house growing up too. 

It is a famous teaching from the holy Chofetz Chaim.

I remember as a bar-mitzvah boy, someone in our community in Riverdale, NY gave me a set of the Chofetz Chaim’s books.

And I enjoyed reading from them daily about always being careful with how you use your words:

– Not to hurt anyone.

РNot to speak bad about anyone (i.e. Lashon Hara)

РBut rather to use words pointedly and always for the good. 

Kind words.

Gentle words.

Complimentary words.

Words of love and caring. 

Holy words. 

The Chofetz Chaim seemed to have an endless number of wonderful stories to demonstrate the power of speech and the importance of using it for the good. 

The old saying of “The pen is mightier than the sword,” can be used replacing the pen with the tongue and power of speech in general.¬†

Words can cut someone like a knife and even kill or words can create a tremendous healing when it’s full of love and¬†caring¬†for others.¬†

Actions speak louder than words, but words can speak and perform volumes in the eternal fight of good over evil. ūüėČ

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

A Holocaust Bar-Mitzvah

Little Boy Holocaust.jpeg

So there was a bar-mitzvah in synagogue today. 

It was very memorable, I think not only for the young man and his family, but for many of the congregants–and frankly, it brought me to tears.

The family was from the Israeli embassy, and they did something that I had never seen before. 

When the father got up with his wife and son at the pulpit to speak, he didn’t talk about how great his son was.

Instead he spoke about a young boy from the Holocaust who never made it to his bar-mitzvah.

The father told of the just 12-year old that lived in Europe and was murdered by the Nazis in the Jewish genocide that killed 6,000,000!

The father presented a certificate from the Remember Us program with the name and information of the murdered boy to his son. 

The message of this father and Israeli official on his son’s bar-mitzvah was very clear–Never again!

Never again–the hate, prejudice, discrimination, and murder of Jews just because they are Jews.

The people that were murdered by the evil Nazis and other hating bigots throughout history showed no mercy towards G-d’s creatures–in fact, quite the contrary–they relished in the absolute torture and killing of each and every one.

Never again, is not just a phrase, but it is a determination and a commitment to be a “light unto nations”¬†not to forget¬†how some can fall under the evil influence and¬†not to allow¬†it to happen again that people engage in the most outrageous and vile atrocities against their fellow man.¬†

Unfortunately these days, hate and bigotry comes in many colors, races, genders, orientations, and affiliations–and the haters may often pretend–like the Nazis did as the “Aryan Nation”–that they are superior, better, and even righteous in their (evil) cause.¬†

However, we have to know better–we have to be able to discern good from evil–raise up good over evil–and fight for good to win against evil.¬†

It is not just a single battle, but a long intergenerational war, and one that will be won.

G-d Almighty will most assuredly see to it that those who hate on and perform the vilest of deeds against their fellow man,¬†they¬†will end up paying the ultimate price not only with their rotting flesh, but with the eternal burning of their sickening souls. ūüėČ

(Source Photo:¬†here¬†with attribution to the Holocaust Education and Archive Research Team–HEART)

A Boy Who’s Name Is Light

Recently, I inspired by an award-winning documentary that I watched on Netflix called Praying With Lior (2007).The movie is about the development and spiritual maturation of a Jewish child with Down Syndrome to his Bar Mitzvah (and a few years past).As a young child, Lior Liebling is comforted by his mother, who is a Rabbi, who teaches Lior to pray and sing to G-d.

She holds him and they share an amazing bond both maternal and spiritual that never leaves Lior.

Unfortunately, the mother has breast cancer and passes away when Lior is only 6.

Right before his bar mitzvah, Lior goes to his mother’s gravesite and clings to it saying, “I miss you,” and then breaks down in tears that I could feel or imagined rising up to the heavens itself.

Lior is deeply loved by his family–father (also a Rabbi), stepmother, and 3 siblings–who play, engage, teach him, and learn from him as well.

Lior means light in Hebrew, and Lior brings light to everyone he meets–inspiration to overcome challenge, deep love of G-d and community, and faith that his mother is watching over him.

Lior makes it to his bar-mitzvah–and becomes a proverbial Jewish man–he says the blessing, reads from the Torah, celebrates with his family and loved ones, and even gives a speech on the importance of Torah.

At the celebration, he goes over to another retarded girl, and says something about how she is special and that “I am going to marry you.”

I watched this young man, Lior, pray with a rigor that I have not been able to do for some time, and I was inspired not by the words he said, nor the song he sang, or even the cheer he brought others, but rather I think I was moved by the simple sincerity and purity of his heart.

Lior didn’t want anything, didn’t have an agenda, wasn’t trying to do anything to anybody, he was just a soul that reached out to others–loving them, hugging them, kissing them, and yes, praying with them–often actually leading the services.

One of Lior’s classmates that was interviewed said that everyone has a test, and Lior’s is an incredibly difficult one–but he is succeeding extraordinarily by not only surviving with his disability, but also showing others the way.

Thank you Lior for being such an amazing inspiration to us all–may you go from strength to strength and someday reunite with not only your heavenly father, but also your mother who awaits to sing and pray with you in great joy again.

>Never Lose Faith; Never Give Up



I really liked this story on CNN (source WRAL) on Holocaust survivor, Morris Glass, who is having his bar-mitzvah at 83–Mazel tov!

Mr. Glass was denied his rite of passage as a teenager to become a bar-mitzvah, because his family, like so many at the time, where being murdered by the Nazi’s in the Holocaust.

As he is one of the dwindling few Holocaust survivors left to tell his story–I value and appreciate these lessons that Mr. Glass shares in the interview:

– Be grateful for your loved ones.

– Never forget that terrible things happened to people (slavery, murder…) and could happen again, if not prevented.

– Everything you do, you should do right, even the little things.

– You are free to serve G-d, not free from responsibility.

– You are the future.

– Never lose faith; never give up.

To me, these are lessons in life and in leadership that are universal whether we are at bar-mizvah age (13) or at 83 and whether you are you celebrating Passover, Easter, or whatever.

Happy holidays.

>A Bar-Mitzvah Lesson and Enterprise Architecture

>When I was bar-mitzvah (this is the rite of passage when a Jewish Male reaches the age of 13 and accepts upon himself the laws of the Torah), my bar-mitzvah teacher taught me an important religious and life lesson. This lesson impacts everything I do including the way I carry out my professional life leading Information Technology and Enterprise Architecture.

As part of the preparation for the bar-mitzvah, a Jewish boy learns to read from Torah and prepare the section for the Shabbat reading that coincides with his 13th birthday. I had a teacher from the local synagogue that prepared me well, for over the better part of a year. At the end of the training, my teacher told me “in life, just remember, stay far from evil and do good ‚ÄĒthis is the essence of the Torah’s teaching”..

Now what does this have to do with IT and EA?

Well to me, the “final” bar-mitzvah lesson was all about a life (and work) ethic. The lesson instilled in me a direction to look at the world and recognize good from bad and to always try to do good ‚Äď do my best, improve things, have an impact!

While this lesson has many ramifications in my life, from a professional perspective, I enjoy the fields of IT and EA, where I can drive technology change for the improvement of the organizations I work for. While, I’m not out there “saving lives,” I feel that I can make a difference by driving positive change using technology, structured with enterprise architecture, planning, and governance to make things better, more efficient, and improve mission execution.

It’s been quite a while since my bar-mitzvah, but the capstone lesson of “do good”, helps me be a better Enterprise Architect and drive positive and substantial change.

What life lessons drive you to be successful in EA?