Before we went inside the library multi-purpose room to wait for our guests, Aunt Lisa helped us do a photo-shoot in a park a stone's throw away from there. Here's a good shot of all 5 of us that very morning, pre-service (click to see the image full-size).
After about 5-10 minutes of quick picture-taking, using a digital camera and an iPhone, we helped make some last-minute preparations for the Bar-Mitzvah, such as putting an arrow-sign at the door to let people know where the party is, tying balloons up around the room, and finding a good place for our Flip camcorder to stand and record video footage of the entire hour-long service.
As our guests began to arrive, Bettina and I helped our brother greet everyone personally and show them to their seats. That was a really fun part, because since we were the hosts of the party we knew every single person that came in.
Eventually the room was full of people, and it was time for the service to start. Our friend Kellie led the whole thing, because she was the rabbi. After a bunch of prayer songs and blessings spoken in the Hebrew language, Bettina and I got up to present Adam with his Tallit (a special prayer shawl that one wears when reading from the Torah), just like we've rehearsed these past few weeks.
After that we didn't come up again until just before it was time for our brother to read his portion. Bettina and I had practiced a Bruno Mars number in honor of the occasion, and one of Kellie's sons played guitar as we sang.
The song was "You Can Count On Me", a simple little tune with a deep, meaningful message. Our performance was so good and got such an excellent response, and Adam even teared up after it was over.
Next came the actual reason for the whole Bar-Mitzvah: the reading from the Torah! There was a whole ritual where Benny carried the impressive scroll around the whole room so people could touch it and kiss it while happy-sounding Jewish music played, and then the Torah was removed from it's beautiful felt covering and presented to the congregation.
First, the Bar-Mitzvah boy's family had to go up to make Aliyah (hebrew for "ascent") before him, and first Aunt Lisa, then Bettina, then me, Shira, and Benny read a portion from the Torah. Then Adam read his part. He did great! Better than great. Fantastic. He did the chants right, he read loud and clearly, and he didn't make a single mistake.
He then read his Haf-Torah portion and gave a short speech to our friends and guests about what his two readings meant. After that, the formal service was pretty much over.
Of course next came the party! Oh what a party! There was food galore! We catered the whole affair ourselves; didn't hire anybody to cook or serve for us. We had a whole buffet of pasta salads, bagels and vegetables with spreads and dips, and 3 different cakes: one vanilla, one chocolate, and one carrot. Everyone enjoyed themselves immensely. At some point there was a moment where I helped my dad and a few of his man-friends lift Adam up for the traditional Bar-Mitzvah chair-raising, and Adam liked that a lot. Then someone, I forget who, said that they missed a photo-op, could we please lift Adam again? So we did, they took a picture, and Adam got to go up in the air a second time.
Eventually, all good things come to an end. It was time for us to call the party over. We only booked the library's multi-purpose room for 4 hours, including set-up and tear-down time. Before they left, most of our friends and guests actually helped us put away the chairs, clean up the food, and generally make the room a little tidier. By the time we were all through, you could never tell an entire Bar-Mitzvah had just taken place there.
Until next time, that is all I have to say, except for this: Happy Bar-Mitzvah you mensch of a brother you! Mazel Tov Adam!