We celebrated him in a homemade Bar Mitzvah ceremony.
He was in on the planning from beginning to end and prepared himself heart and soul for the very real transition he faced.
The evening started with appetizers of flatbread pizzas (potato/herd/asiago, brie/raspberry/caramelized onions and roasted maple vegetables/fontina) and Italian sodas.
Then we played a montage that Meg made of Israel's life. Of course I was weeping by the end.
Then Israel recited--from memory, no notes!--all of Joshua chapter 1.
|Reciting Joshua Chapter 1|
Then the blessings began. Each family stood to bless Israel. Words, Scriptures, prophetic gifts. Those that couldn't be physically present (especially his Godmother, Mary Beth---we missed you!!!!) sent their blessings to be read or played on video. It was powerful. And long. The blessing segment of the evening took a good 2.5 hours. But, looking back it was just as it should have been. There was no one I would have edited. A step of this significance should not be rushed over. In our culture, even our religion has become slave to convenience. A church website I was on recently made great pains to advertise the fact they they have a 65 minute service. Wouldn't want our service to the Lord to put us out. But, I digress.....
|Coffee and tea and mismatched cups. Matching is overrated. In the back there are bookmarks Israel made for his guests with the Prayer of St. Francis.|
|Sarah and Sarah|
|Papa and Israel|
|Nana and Papa blessed Israel with "tools"--a knife and leatherman, instructing him to use them wisely, just as he does his spiritual tools|
|Reading the blessing from his Godmother who couldn't be there|
|Higashi family, who blessed Israel with a knife, instructing him to grow in his manhood and that God would bless him with greater weapons later on. They prophesied about the times and seasons.|
|Titi blessed Israel with a special cross--courage to wear it and to not be afraid to stand out and be different.|
|Saraa popped right up with a gift and card all her own doing! Mommy didn't even know about it! So heart-warming!|
|Lucas, whose name means "bringer of light" presented Israel with a lighter, engraved with a special message, "Always your bro."|
|Anna, a friend, and our God-daughter, who blessed Israel with a special prayer and Scripture|
|Auntie Kristy and Uncle Jordan, who blessed Israel with a Four Seasons cookbook, telling him to mark the times and in his growing into manhood to retain his gentleness and grace and love of beauty, for these, too are masculine gifts.|
|Gina (his art teacher), Isabella and Vincent. Gina drew a special image for Israel and a bracelet with the Shema|
|Israel's best friend Aaron placing his own yarmulke on Israel|
|Auntie Micha blessing Israel is a double portion blessing and affirming his as a watchman on the wall, represented by a watch. It was beautiful because Israel was wearing his grandfather's watch.|
|Alice, blessing Israel as the honorable man that he is|
|Tuya-egch blessing Israel with a long and happy life|
|Shifu Rae, Israel's Kung Fu instructor and long time mentor blessing him.|
|Afterwards, Israel present Rae with a photo book of memories of their seven years together|
|I spoke a blessing over Israel, only cried a little and presented him an Elijah's Cup, double portion blessings. I hope one day it sits on his own Passover table|
|My baby is a man|
|Gana's blessing for Israel, calling him up and imparting his heart|
|Gana presented Israel with a prayer shall with symbols of the 12 Tribes on it|
After the blessings, Israel gave a speech, essentially taking a public stand and an oath to live as a man of God. There were tears--from guests and Israel himself.
Then we feasted!!! Lasagna, garlic knots (made by my friend Kristina), salad with greens, cranberries, golden beets, candied pecans, and blue cheese....with awesome dressing made by Kristina's daughter. For dessert we had chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake bars and milk and a Russian Cake brought by Gana's cousin Tuya. There was bubbly--champagne and sparkling cider.
There's so much more that there isn't room to share. And I've tried to remember all the gifts and essence of the messages, but I know that I've left things out. Please forgive any omissions, they are not intentional. The evening was truly overflowing with blessings and God's grace.