By Malkie Gordon Hirsch

You know what it’s like when an idea pops into your head and you foolishly mention it in the company of others, without thinking things through, only to then greatly regret it the minute it comes out of your mouth?

That’s basically my modus operandi … every day.

Scary, right? Anyway, I was finalizing the speeches for Nison’s Shabbos bar mitzvah and might have wondered aloud if I should act as master of ceremonies.

Bad, bad, bad.

Because the minute I mentioned it and others heard it, they thought it was a great idea even though I sort of wanted my statement to be met with that awkward pause and a response that would sound something like, “Wait—are you sure?

“You’ll be overwhelmed with last minute things to do for the bar mitzvah. Maybe it’s not a good idea. Have your brother Nachi do it instead.” (I added this part for comedic factor.)

I keep toying with the idea because it’s a non-threatening way to add my touch on the speaking without actually having to prepare something smart to say. I’ve always had an aversion to doing work that required actual preparation. Ask my mom—she’ll confirm that.

But how could I go wrong speaking about my own son?

Or thanking the people who got us to this point?

It’s an intimate group (with a large kid count), but the beauty of making a small simcha is that you get to select the people most meaningful to you and your family. It’s the family you’re given and the friends you choose to expand your family.

The ones who were there during the really hard times who deserve to be treated for the simcha we get to host.

For so long, I relied on these people for so much. They’ve been my village, my lifeline. To help me get back on my feet as a person instead of a couple, to relieve me when I was overwhelmed with the Shabbosos I couldn’t handle alone and the carpools that one person could not possibly take care of herself. To take my kids out and show them a good time when I just needed to be by myself and breathe.

So, to thank them for their endless generosity and for treating me and my kids like their own extended family, I bestow upon them a variety of p’tcha and good herring. Some singing, a word or two of Torah from the people who are really good at that, and getting to bask in the joy of my children who probably never expected to have to endure a party like this without a father there with them.

Mitzrayim was called the “kur ha’barzel”—it was the crucible that crushed the spirit of our nation, broke us down, and brought us to our knees. The Jews cried out in agony, until Moshe Rabbeinu was called upon to begin the geulah process. He advocated to Hashem to alleviate the pain of Bnei Yisrael, and his empathy merited his role in taking us out of our suffering.

I believe that our Moshe, Moishy, is here with us spiritually, and that he’s the reason I’m able to do so much for them, and maybe that’s why I planned this simcha this way. The strength he gave us in his lifetime helped us cross the sea of grief. And our loved ones were all here with us, too, so we wanted to do this simcha this way on this Shabbos.

Well, that and because his bar mitzvah fell out on a long weekend, so who wouldn’t take advantage of that?

And I’d say something like this: “Mazal tov, everyone, and thank you for being here to celebrate the bar mitzvah of my second son, Nison.

“While he and the other kids (and some adults) are looking forward to the chicken fingers and the party swag, I’m looking forward to the day after tomorrow when no one will ask me how the bar mitzvah planning is going. At least for the next two years.

“Nison is a really good kid. He’s not too different than he was as a good-natured baby. The only difference is the progression from milk bottles and music mobiles to bagels and his cellphone.

“He’s witty, chill, and still hugs me on demand. He’s loved by so many, and I look forward to seeing the man he becomes. Also, I hope his organizational skills improve a tad.

“He worked with me on the invites for this Shabbos and personally wanted you all to be here celebrating with us. Nison, your name is associated with geulah, with new beginnings, with hope. You’ve been a comic relief, a nechamah to us all in these last two difficult years. You carry so much of your father’s strength and calm within you. Like Moshe Rabbeinu, who rescued, led, and tended the Jews but didn’t get to see the nachas of the Promised Land, our Moshe, our Moishy, your Tatty, is missing this nachas in this world. But I believe they are both schepping a lot of nachas from you right now, smiling at you from the olam ha’emes.

“So, here’s the long and short of it: family and friends who are like family, you’re here with us because you’ve been part of a powerful journey with us. You helped us take something broken and lovingly, painstakingly piece it back together, with your listening ears, with the endless favors, the dinners, babysitting, and aiding in everything that makes a family run and a young widow feel a little less alone.

“You didn’t get scared off or shy away when things were dark and uncomfortable. You didn’t look away when the kids would cry for their father.

“You breathed new life into them by showing them that there’s still much fun to have, and despite all the sadness we’ve been through, one doesn’t negate the other.

“Your understanding, empathy, and generosity will never be forgotten by me, by Nison, and by the rest of the kids.

“A perk of sticking with us in the uneasy times is to celebrate with us during the happy times. And, b’H, there already have been and will be more happy times.

Mazal tov and thank you for all you’ve done for us. We love you.” 

Malkie Gordon Hirsch is a native of the Five Towns community, a mom of 5, a writer, a social media influencer, veteran real estate agent, and runs a patisserie in Woodmere.

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