The main thrust was August 3. That was Yussie’s big day. He was the king of Chabad of the Five Towns, and I couldn’t have hoped for a more beautiful simcha in honor of my bar mitzvah boy!
But we wanted some pictures (we will hopefully see some professional shots soon from our new friend Cary Wynters) and some music and some dancing—and we wanted to celebrate with family members who couldn’t be here on Shabbos. But it couldn’t be overwhelming. It had to be something relatively simple and small yet special. After his amazing Shabbos ended, I realized that we had to prepare for Yussie’s extra “simple and small yet special” bar mitzvah celebration. We had already invited Yussie’s close family and friends to lunch at Hapina, one of Yussie’s favorite restaurants, and after the excitement of the special Shabbos ended, we needed to work on the touches that would make this memory last a lifetime.
Rochel volunteered to work on a montage for Yussie. As she was showing me the pictures she chose to include, memories came flooding back to me concerning each moment in the past 13 years of Yussie’s life. Seeing the picture of my Zayde Morris (zichrono livracha) holding him at his b’ris brought me back. I could hear my Zayde admiring how cute Yussie was with his adorable button nose! The list goes on and on. As she showed me her final version, even before this past Sunday’s luncheon, I already had anticipated the smile that would arrive on Yussie’s face when he sees it at the party.
My eldest daughter created the centerpieces for the tables—pictures of places that Yussie enjoys: Brach’s, Shula’s, Adventureland, Fun Station, bowling, David’s Pizza, the library, and, of course, the Chabad of the Five Towns, Grandma Esther and Zayde Donald’s house, and Bubby Bernice and Zayde Ike’s house! At every one of these places Yussie brings his special smile to everyone there!
Along with the pictures came the bright balloons—brought to the table by Naftali and Nina—making everything extra-special and fun. Rivka helped Lea prepare a perfect poem to recite to Yussie, which made the day complete!
Rabbi Wolowik shared a lovely d’var Torah with all of Yussie’s friends and family, as did my husband Leib. Leib’s sense of organization helped make everything work out perfectly. I remember when Yussie was born, and I was nervous about knowing how to care for our fragile young baby, Leib did not give it a second thought. He said something like, “We will enjoy him like all of our children—no differently! Everything will be fine.” My husband’s strength has gotten us through many challenging moments of our lives, and, b’H, we have been able to see nachas from Yosef Binyamin Lubin and pray that we will do so for many years to come.
I was so happy that family from near and far were able to celebrate with us—especially my brother Jacob and my niece Hallel and nephew Nachum, who came all the way from Israel to be with us for this special celebration.
Of course the spirit and excitement at the event came alive due to the diligence of our friend Jeff Neckonoff—the Azamra DJ. The music that he played sounded like a live band, and all of Yussie’s family and friends danced the afternoon away!
The food at Hapina was its usual exquisite sumptuousness. This is certainly our favorite fleishig restaurant in the area, and although we come here often, Bentzi and his crew were able to transform our usual haunt into an extra-special bar mitzvah venue.
The most important part of the day was Yussie’s enthusiasm. Everyone present remarked how happy this particular bar mitzvah boy was—and his happiness (as usual) was infectious. Even the cook from Hapina came out in his apron to dance with Yussie.
And so the excitement is over. Yussie’s bar mitzvah introduced him to the “men” of Judaism, and has given him a maturity, for after all, in Yussie’s words:
“I thirteen!” v
Phyllis Joy Lubin is an attorney with Maidenbaum & Sternberg, LLP, who resides in Cedarhurst with her husband, Leonard. They have six children—Naftali, Shoshana, Rivka, Rochel, Yosef, and Lea—and a daughter-in-law, Nina. The author welcomes your questions and comments at MothersMusings@gmail.com.