As many of you know, my family and I are back from our journey to Morocco, my parents’ birth country, and my third son, Ziv, place of coming into the age of “Mitzvot”- good deeds. The idea of this chapter in a Jewish Boy’s life, as he turns 13, is to become solely responsible for his actions and no longer assume his “mistakes” and wrong doing, will be “covered” or corrected by the parents.
As many of you know, parenting NEVER ends!!! We are at first care givers, later on teachers, life coaches, role models, mentors but at some point, simply guides on the sides, at times, wishing we could do more, but cannot.
Same with the age of Bar/Bat Mitzvah in Jewish tradition. The prospective boy/girl are coming into an age of taking responsibility for themselves and yes, the people and the world around them and hopefully, become of service and kindness. A torch of continuity with respect to tradition and heritage.
About two years ago, with the era of COVID restrictions, I planted a seed in my older brother’s head (who has been digging down into our family roots and heritage in Morocco and have been taking groups as a guide) about my wish to do Ziv’s Bar Mitzvah there and take my family of six, to learn about their grandparents, my mother’s big loss of her family in an earthquake and also smell the beauty of this country which is full of colors, flavor, graceful artistry and history.
Fast forward about two years and that beautiful Savtah (Grandmother), who had bought all of her grandkids’ Talit (Jewish prayer shawls), and my son’s as well, passed on exactly a month prior to his big moment and made this trip ten folds more meaningful and powerful than it already was going to be.
What I have learned, together with my crew, is that going back is essential in dreaming of moving forward. That deep, wide roots, transform into a big, strong tree. I have learned that my parents have left such a legacy behind them as many still remembered them and their good, kind deeds towards the community AND the people who worked for them, who were not Jewish, but loved as family, nonetheless. I’ve seen the house my parents lived in, few steps away from their synagogue, where Ziv had come into his own – THAT was a moment.
I have learned that while the loss of our parents, our Imma and Abbah, our kids’ Sabbah and Savtah, is still something their 14 kids grieve and process, that WE ARE, HOWEVER , STILL A FAMILY WHO HOLDS, CRY AND LOVE HARD!!!!! And I! AM! Grateful!!!
WHEN YOUR ROOTS ARE DEEPER…..YOUR TREE, IS STRONGER!
Go ahead and dare to investigate your past, even if it has dark spots and trauma – knowledge is power!!!! Do not walk around blind. Do not give your back to your scars….don’t hold back tears!!! Who knows, you may just find out that you are, in fact, a bit luckier than you thought you were….
I have found myself at this trip, full of joy and pain ALL AT THE SAME TIME – it is possible and it is human and it is, real!!!!