Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Grand welcome comes with tiny cut!

Rite of passage: Grandpa Steve, Avi share special moment!
A bris is a memorable tradition filled with much high ritual, the moment when a Jewish boy -- for those who believe in such rites -- becomes part of the ancient covenant given by God to Abraham and his descendants.

It's part of the bedrock of Judaism, one of the numerous mitzvot, or laws, that are at the heart of the religion. It also offers up a distinctive mark -- both literally and symbolically -- that helped create and sustain the Jewish people for thousands of years, a community filled with rich and robust traditions, rites, ideas and laws.

Baby Boy Levetan's bris was such a happening, a gathering of family and friends to welcome him into our lives and community with love and good cheer eight days following his birth. Oh, there was also a mohel, trained in the practice of brit milah, the "covenant of circumcision," to whack away his foreskin.

Ouch and welcome to the tribe!

Say ahhhh: Avi with his mom and dad, Lauren and Josh.
It's also the moment when a child receives their name, when what already is becomes even more, defined and enriched by a back story that adds weight and context to a precious being at the starting point of life.

For those with even a smattering of Hebrew, baby boy Levetan's name -- at least his Hebrew name, Avraham Yisrael -- was first heard uttered by the mohel, Rabbi Ariel Asa, as he went about his liturgical chores. But it was left to Lauren and Josh to announce and explain the proper name that now will be forever linked to their son and all he will become.

Avi Kenneth Levetan, a euphonic blend of old and new, ethnic and modern, is inextricably meshed with the ganze mispucha, the entire family. The Hebrew and English names honor and recall a great grandfather and grand uncle from Lauren's extended family and both Josh's paternal grandfather and, most poignantly, his maternal grandfather, Ken Stone, who died last year.

Their collective lives offer up a rich tapestry of being that stretches back to the Pale of Settlement, spanning half the globe and the last century or so; men who both embraced the ancient customs of their ancient religion and communities while striking out for the New World and all the wonders to be found in America.

We are family: Bailey (l-r), Pops, Lauren, Avi, Josh and Bubbe.
All they were, in a fashion, will now be carried into the next century, a bit of spiritual energy comfortably resting in the heart of a sweet little boy.

Avi, sucking away on a cloth dabbed in a bit of wine, rested comfortably following the bris as family and friends feasted on deli delicacies at a celebratory meal, Seurat mitzvah, that is yet another custom of a folk who are defined by such traditions.

So this is my hope, Avi, a little postscript from your Pops on the day after your bris.

If at some distant time you find yourself surfing whatever passes for the World Wide Web in the next century and stumble across this post, you should spend a few moments reflecting on all that happened on this special day in 2016. Then take a moment to understand that even when you were little more than a vibrant idea and bit of flesh you were already part of something huge and ancient and, most importantly, from the very beginning you were loved.

With that, I'll sign off for now with this wish, offering up a priestly blessing (sort of) while quoting that ancient Talmudic sage, Mr. Spock: Live long and prosper, Avi Kenneth, live long and prosper!