Eli, everyone is here today for you. We love you. You are special.
We, as a community are embracing you. We have high hopes for your growing involvement as a positively participating member of this community.
This is, in fact, what you have already become. You, Eli: son, brother, grandson, nephew, friend. You, who are curious about the world and ask such good questions. You, who when you know the answer, teach with patience and generosity. You, who read the prayers with such feeling you brought a tear to the Rabbi’s eye. You who laugh hard at what is funny, catch the subtleties, and can recite it all back verbatim. You, Eli, who have worked hard to master the ski slopes, endured a 5-day bike ride through driving rain, backpack with vigor, stayed up all night to observe egg-laying leatherback turtles, crossed the equator to study bizarre critters in the Galapagos, learned your prayers, love your dog, do your math. You are earnest and smart. You have a good heart.
Eli, I cherish who you are and your friendship and companionship. Thank you for sharing with me, with us. I see the world’s small wonders with a greater awareness thanks to your perspective and thoughtfulness.
Mazel tov! Happy Bar Mitzvah. I welcome you again to your community. You make us better and you have my blessing as we make our way.
--Papa Joey Stewart