A Bar Mitzvah Present to cherish: 45 years later

When I arrived at the synagogue this morning, there was a letter waiting for me. The envelope indicated that it was “personal” for me. As I have received several letters from friends and colleagues in recognition of tonight’s celebration in honor of my 25th year as Rabbi of Beth Israel, I opened it expecting to read a letter similar to the others.

However, this letter was different.

The writer of the letter identified himself as the son of friends of my parents from Boston. I definitely recognized his name and remember the family. He wrote in the letter that his father had recently passed away and that, in the process of going through papers for his estate, he found a savings bond made out to me. He assumed it was meant to be a Bar Mitzvah gift and he wanted me to send it to me. He kindly wrote that after 45 years it probably is worth more than face value.

When I opened up the accompanying gift envelope, yellowed with age, bearing the words: “A gift for you…A Share in Freedom” in a late 1960’s style font, I found a $25 US Savings Bond dated the day before my Bar Mitzvah made out in my name “or Gertrude Dobrusin”.

My first reaction was to laugh and to marvel at the coincidence of a $25 bond arriving on the day of my 25th anniversary celebration and, in fact, 6 days before the 45th anniversary of my Bar Mitzvah. For the fun of it, I went to the US Savings Bond Website and found that it is now worth some $135 , quite a Bar Mitzvah present for one whose younger child celebrated her Bat Mitzvah more than 5 years ago.

I started to write something about this on my Facebook page. I wanted to write how the celebration of a bar mitzvah continues for many years, how sometimes good things happen to us long after they were intended and how kind it was for this man to take the time to look me up and find me after all of these years.

But, as I was writing, it hit me. Even though all of that is true, there is much more to this story.

Over the past few years, I have begun to believe much more deeply in the afterlife and especially because of one experience coinciding with another milestone in my life, to believe that those with whom we were closest in life do in fact send us signs that they are still with us. So, as I sat in my office a few hours before this wonderful event celebrating a milestone my parents would have been so proud of, I can not simply believe that this letter was a coincidence.

Before we went to sleep last night, remembering the incident before that other milestone event, I said to Ellen: “I wonder if there will be some kind of sign tomorrow to show my parents are celebrating this event with me.”

Now I know the answer to that question. And the evening will be even more of a celebration.


7 thoughts on “A Bar Mitzvah Present to cherish: 45 years later

    1. Maureen Kassof

      Loved the piece, and may you continue to have many beautiful memories that multiple with time. So sorry we are unable to share in your joy tonight. “The Kassof Family”

  1. jill k cohen

    I belong to TBE and read your piece. Very moving and powerful. Thank you for sharing and congratulations to you.
    Jill K. Cohen

  2. carol Finerman

    I always feel Aaron’s presence at special and not so special events. I know he would have had a broad grin at last night’s celebration. For 25 years, Rob, a job very well done. I look forward to the future with you.

  3. Liesel Wardle

    Dear Rabbi!
    First of all, CONGRATULATIONS to you, and to another 25 years!!!
    I believe in the afterlife just like you, there are just too many things that
    have happened in my life which cannot be classified as mere coincidents!
    I so enjoy reading your beautiful stories and recollections!!!
    All the Best now and always, Liesel

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