Our son, Joshua, was born 13 years ago, and little did we know the gift God had given to our family. Josh was born with Down Syndrome, which left us wondering what to expect. We decided to set aside any preconceived ideas, and believe that Josh could go beyond all expectations. He has proven us right!
Josh is now a growing teen, who always reminds us he can do it himself, because “ I am a teenager.” He reads well, having somehow taught himself at age 4, and has been in an inclusive school setting all through his school years.
He particularly showed his abilities when he became a Bar Mitzvah this past June. A Bar Mitzvah is a time in a Jewish boy’s life, at age 13, when he learns Hebrew prayers, reads from the Torah, and gives a speech. In preparation, he meets with the Rabbi to learn about young men in the scriptures, and to study the particular passage he will be reading. We planned a big day, complete with lunch after the service, and a party at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia in the evening. (Josh loves animals!) We had many friends there, as well as family members who had traveled here to see Josh on his special day.
No one, not even those of us who know him so well, could have anticipated how well Josh did that day. He looked so handsome in his suit, and he ran the service like a pro! Friends and family said they didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, as Josh showed his sense of humor, his knowledge, his ability to read English and Hebrew, his compassion, and his strong relationship with God, through the things he shared. Everyone was so proud — the Rabbi, family, and even his speech therapist!
Josh’s Bar Mitzvah was especially wonderful, as it showed many who did not expect much from Josh, or who didn’t quite know how to react to him, just how smart and capable he is. He took his place among his people, with respect. And now, he is a teenager!