A Belated Bar Mitzvah

Turned away for having dyslexia, one man celebrates his Bar Mitzvah decades later at Masada.

Click here if you are unable to view this video.

Comments (18)

(18) Amy, November 13, 2014 12:10 AM

What a tear jerker

Oh, what a story, I'm crying my eyes out now. Lovely just beautiful - Mazel Tov Tod from Amy of http://www.poemstogo.tv

(17) Dvirah, May 6, 2014 9:26 AM

For the Record

I was 12 and my brother 13 in the same year. My family could only afford one celebration so, of course, it was his. To further complicate matters, living at that time in the US, we used secular dates, and my birthday fell out on Yom Kippur! So I also never had a formal Bat Mitzvah while most of my classmates did. Understanding the situation (though not at all happy about it!), I just announced to myself during the services that I was from now on responsible for my own observance. In the final analysis, that is what matters.

(16) CJ, January 7, 2014 12:43 AM

Jews Behaving Badly.

Good way to describe it. I'm Jewish and a social worker who provides case management services to children and adults with developmental disabilities. We need to behave inclusively, not exclusively.

(15) Sanford & Chana Goodman, January 5, 2014 7:13 PM

This is a wonderful act of real kindness

Dear Lori,

This is a very moving story about people who showed a wonderful kindness by compensating a person who was deprived of having a bar mitzvah by giving him a belated one on top of Masada.

Sandy & Chana Goodman, Dallas Texas

(14) Raphaelle Do Lern Hwei, January 5, 2014 10:56 AM

Admire the Courage

Congratulations, Todd! I am happy that his friends stood up for him and supported his convictions to stand up and be counted as a Jew.

(13) Jen, January 5, 2014 6:12 AM

why no barmitzvah for a Dyslexic boy?

I'd love to know the reasoning behind Todd's childhood community not allowing him to have a barmitzvah ceremony. My son is an Aspie, and we were very very lucky to have a rabbi who works with kids with disabilities. He arranged for the barmitzvah to be on a Thursday afternoon after school. Just family (and a few close friends) attended, and all my son did was read out the transliterated brachot for the call-up. In the years since then, he has been encouraged to be called up more times (this rabbi moved and we follow him at yom tov, and the shul he now has is small, so often my son and husband are the only cohanim in the shule) and he does the duchening too - so much nachas, and just from a rabbi who understands!

(12) Anonymous, January 3, 2014 6:42 PM

Jewish pain

Shows how ignorance can cause great pain to children ,next week is my nephews bar mitzvah beshalach, a local kollel man told my nephews teacher that he is not Jewish! The teacher accepted the lashon hara and cancelled lessons two months ago, my family is devastated , this precious child and his parents were shaking and sobbing at the cruelty of both this man who "decided" based on "perceptions" to spread baseless rumors about my family , and the teacher who accepted the gossip as fact. The damage done due to their arrogance and ignorance can not be measured. How do we now undo this cruelty and damage. My sister,unaffiliated due to other incidents of Jews behaving badly, has now slammed the door and locked it tight, the pain of this most recent cruelty is too much to bear, as we see from this mans many years of pain he has carried due to the selfish ignorance and arrogance of Jews behaving badly , the antithesis of the behavior of a true Gd fearing and educated jew.
It's time Jews recognize how badly their self righteousness can damage innocent others.

(11) Janice, January 3, 2014 6:41 PM

Thank you

A beautiful story that I read with tears of joy for Todd. My middle son has cerebral palsy and learning disabilities. His Bar Mitzvah was delayed until he was nearly 16 but with a lot of support he and we celebrated. Sometimes waiting, even 28 years, makes the moment that much sweeter.

(10) Joan Karasik, January 3, 2014 5:11 PM

Mazel tov

Mazel tov, Todd!

I have a son who's on the Autistic Spectrum, who had attended our Synagogue's Hebrew School, until it closed. They Synagogue that "absorbed" ours told us that my son was not welcome to attend their Hebrew School, as they "had no special needs people in [their] Hebrew School." And they told my daughter, who had helped out in our Hebrew School, that the only way she could help our in theirs, was if she was my son's tutor (It's the only way they would allow my son to go, as well.). We couldn't believe that a synagogue would do this! Needless to say, we found a different Hebrew School.

Rejection, instead of acceptance-and-willing-to-work-with-someone is so hard and unfair! I'm so happy that you finally had your dream come true, with loving, caring people!

(9) Maria, January 3, 2014 5:26 AM

Mazel tov, Todd!

(8) Mary, January 3, 2014 12:25 AM


No one should be turned away because of an intellectual imparement.

(7) Linda, January 3, 2014 12:18 AM

Mazel Tov Todd. This was such a lovely story. Good things do come to those who wait (or had to wait)

(6) Israeli Mother, January 2, 2014 10:17 PM

Correcting a misconception

This was a beautiful story and I wish Todd a heartfelt Mazal Tov at being called up to the Torah for the very first time in his life, but I must correct a misconception: No Jewish male "Has" a bar mitzvah, he "BECOMES" a bar mitzva! As soon as a Jewish male reaches the age of 13 he is chayav [obligated] in all of the mitzvot that a Jewish man must do. He doesn't have to be called up to the Torah -- we just do that to formally announce to the public that he can now be counted in a minyan -- or have a party, it is just something that naturally comes along with reaching the age of 13 for a boy and 12 for a girl.

(5) Anonymous, January 2, 2014 9:48 PM

my daughter has dyslexia

I broke down in tears as I heard Todd's story, see my daughter has dyslexia and ADD and I have often anguished over the fact that she is a year past her bat mitzvah age. She just isn't ready for the additional burden when her school studies(hebrew and secular) take up so much time. I am grateful for Todd and his inspirational story and I hope he continues to share it with all the LD kids. Your message was the one I needed to hear and gave me hope for my daughter. Thank-you Lori and Mazel tov Todd!

(4) nechama, January 2, 2014 8:59 PM

Here in Israel, in our Orthodox (Hareidi) community, our grandson who is on the autistic spectrum had a beautiful bar mitzvah. He was called up and said the brachas which he had thoroughly practiced with his older brother. Then his brother read the haftorah. We threw candies like we do at every other boy's bar mitzvah. We had a beautiful kiddush afterwards at which everyone approached the bar mitzvah boy and gave him a big mazel tov.

He was beaming with pride and so were we.

Instead of the mishnayas that we always give our grandsons we bought him a beautifully illustrated book on a Jewish subject.

Every Jewish child is a treasure. We have to make sure he feels like one.

(3) Chana Chassia, January 2, 2014 7:37 PM

The ONLY disability in life is a bad attitude!

I watch ALL your videos, but this one motivated me to write. As an OT with a physical disability I know where there's a will there's a way! Then I found out that my chevrusa Ellen Clyman is your friend! Small World! Keep up the good work! MAZEL TOV TO TODD!

(2) Suzanne, January 2, 2014 5:18 PM

I have tears in my eyes!

What a wonderful story - so happy for this guy!

(1) Nancy, December 29, 2013 12:47 PM

Just beautiful!! Mazel tov to Todd!! This blog reminds us why ALL Jewish children are entitled to and must receive a solid Jewish education, regardless of their intellectual/academic abilities.


Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment

Receive Weekly Spirituality Emails

Sign up to our Spirituality Newsletter.

Our privacy policy