Open the Pathways to Wellness and Love.

A Triumphant Milestone!


Each low on energy from several days of a nagging cold, yesterday my wife, Ruth, and I attended the Bar Mitzvah of a boy adopted two years ago (at age 11) by his aunt and uncle. Although we have known the family for about eight years and attended the Bar Mitzvahs of the two biological sons, we had never before met “Mark”. Like most of the guests who attended the affair, we were blown away! In fact, I have never been more moved by a Bar or Bat Mitzvah–and I’ve partaken in well over a hundred of them.


What I witnessed was a handsome, bright-eyed young boy brimming with confidence and beaming with joyful presence. He fluently and passionately chanted in Hebrew, with barely a hesitation or mistake, the entire afternoon and evening services, and the culminating Havdalah service. If that wasn’t enough, Mark sang two traditional, festive Jewish songs from stage during the celebration that followed. He graciously and very personally greeted his many guests, myself included.What has this kid accomplished? Check out this list for starters:

  • middle school honor student with a burning curiosity and an insatiable thirst for knowledge
  • trumpet player and theatrical performer
  • has played on community and/or school baseball, basketball and football teams
  • skis and enjoys outdoor adventure activities, e.g. river rafting and camping
  • (for me, most important: a discernibly sterling character)
Now for the really amazing parts. Before moving from Kansas to Colorado, Mark had only been to a synagogue on two occasions. He ate ham sandwiches. Now he regularly attends religious services, practices speaking Hebrew at home, keeps kosher and has joined a synagogue youth group. In conjunction with his Bar Mitzvah, Mark and his family have offered regular support to a Bhutanese refugee family who have settled in Denver to escape genocide in their country.


I’ve saved the most touching details for last. The parents of this extraordinary youth were chronic drug abusers. Mark’s mother divorced his father shortly after he contracted a brain tumor and proceeded to abandon her only child. Despite his terminal condition, Mark’s devoted dad was determined to teach his son as much as he could by the time Mark was six years old. The dad was graced with five years of life beyond that and spent many forms of quality time with his son.I also offer high praise to Mark’s aunt, uncle and young men cousins whose love and strong dedication to Mark’s overall well-being are extremely apparent.

Ruth and I really enjoyed the dinner and festivities, which we felt were elegant, yet tastefully done. Mark’s aunt constructed a tear-jerking slide show of her nephew’s life from birth to present.

The men’s anthology that I compiled and edited in 2011, Ordinary Men, Extraordinary Lives: Defining Moments,¬†contains stories of men (and a couple of late teenage boys) who transformed their lives following adversity or major challenges. I would have been most honored to have included Mark’s life story in the book!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

2016 Best in Category: Relationship Coaching

Jim and Ruth Sharon

Our focus is wholeness. We guide you to enrich your life. Our commitment, compassion and wisdom ease the way for you.