You were 9


Seth Kramer shared these words with his son on the day of Aaron’s Bar Mitzvah and has allowed me to share them with our congregation, as we all share our stories during this Centennial Year.

For Aaron Kramer on his Bar Mitzvah – 4/14/18

You were 9. 

9 years old when you told me you didn’t want to go to temple anymore.  That you didn’t like it, didn’t believe in it – that it wasn’t for you. 

9 years old and Romans pulled down the walls.

So, I brought you here – a little late – after everyone else was in class and we sat right there in the front row.  Facing the Bema and the Ark, and I put my arm around you. 

And we talked about Stories. 

Before the great saga of the Aaron Kramer show there was a little story I like to call the mis-adventurers of Courtney and Seth.  It takes place in New York City.  There is a proposal at the Bowery Ballroom on New Year’s eve.  A scene of me walking away from 9/11 in one piece and then us getting married 4 days later.

But that isn’t the story.  That just one page.

Before us there is the Story of Beverly and Aaron.  The story of James and Judy.

And before that are the Stories of Ruth & John, Joe & Rose, Don & Dolly, Edith & Harold. 

Stories into Stories.  That survive world wars.  That cross continents.  That found nations.  That built pyramids.  That wandered the deserts.

My dad once told me a story about your great grandfather Joe getting in a contest with some railway man where they both had to punch railway spikes into the ground with their bare knuckles and then one of them even carried a railcar over a half mile on his shoulder just to fix a single broken wheel. 

Now, I can’t tell you what’s true about that story, I can’t even tell you if there is one single honest fact in it, but I still love it.  I still carry it around with me and it informs who I am today.

We are stories, Aaron. 

Our lives – the live that came before –  our CONTEXT.  Life isn’t just happening to you, right now.  It isn’t just one thing.  It isn’t just this bar Mitzvah service.  It is the culmination of generations, of thousands of years leading up to this point leading to you.  And where it starts – where it all beings – is written down right there, in that Ark.

בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ

B’raysheet ba-RA Eh-lo-HEEM ayt ha-sha-MA-yim v’-ayt ha-A-retz

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

Today, you take your place in all this.  You carry forward the tradition – stand before us – and add your voice to the telling.

Today, you know your story.

Now I can’t tell you what’s true in it or if you will find God in any of this.  Your Mom can’t.  The Rabbi can’t.  Only you know what is in your heart.

But I can tell you this, after everything we’ve been through in the last year, I am deeply grateful to God and all the healing hands he touched, so that I could stand here right now and share this day with you. 

One of the greatest joys in my entire story is getting to watch you . . . tell yours.

I am immeasurably proud of you, Aaron.

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