granfathers and grandsons
We invited family and traveling guests to our home for brunch before they had to leave town after Tech’s bar mitzvah weekend.
After nearly everyone left, my father handed me a black pouch.
“There’s something in there for Tech,” he said. “It’s important. Don’t lose it.”
I was busy, so I tossed it onto my kitchen desk, uncharacteristically cluttered with all kinds of junk.
Tech found it first.
“What’s this?” he asked, flipping the tiny black velvet pouch back and forth in his hands.
“Oh! That’s for you!” I walked toward him with a bounce in my step. Tech received few gifts, and I had no idea what could be in a little bag from my father. “Open it.”
Inside the pouch, there was a silver piece of jewelry: a pendant featuring a small Star of David and a symbol of the tablets upon which the 10 Commandments were written. I thought about how my father had just told us all that he had never formally chanted from the Torah. I knew his gift was super meaningful, but I didn’t want Tech to feel pressure to wear a piece of jewelry if he didn’t want to.
“You don’t have to wear it,” I said. “You can save it…”
But Tech had already put the silver chain around his neck. He squeezed it in his hand and then let it dangle loose.
“It’s just like Grampy’s,” he said.
I repeated myself. “You don’t have to wear it.”
Tech ignored me.
“I love it, and I’m never taking it off.” Tech hesitated. “Starting after camp. Because at camp, this could get lost. Or broken. Otherwise, I’m totally wearing it.”
He went to look in the mirror.
But he wasn’t looking at himself.
He was looking at the gift his grandfather had given him.
“So cool,” he mumbled.
My father has worn his silver piece of Judaica since he was 13-years old. The pendant is battered, and some of the symbols have fallen off. It is even a little dented.
I know when he wears it, my father feels a connection to G-d. And he remembers his parents who gave him the gift when he turned 13-years old.
When Tech was young, he received a miniature Torah from our temple. Covered in blue velvet, it rests in a white box. My husband and I were asked to write our hopes for our child inside the box flap. I penned a few wishes:
May you continue to grow big and strong.
May you continue to learn and find the things that have meaning to you.
May you always be true to yourself and do the things you know are right – even if they are difficult.
May you continue to love being Jewish and honor all our traditions.
May you love always, and remember to put people before things.
I think he’s got it.
Have you ever received a highly symbolic gift? What was it?
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