‘Do the hustle!’

Advice about facing your fears from Josh on the occasion of his Bar Mitzvah.

On 17th April 2021 we held a special service in which our Beiteinu student, Josh Dodds, became Bar Mitzvah. We were joined virtually by a truly international audience as Josh’s friends and family joined the service, via Zoom, from the US, Canada, Australia and France. Other family members were able to attend the service in person.

The service booklet

Josh led the service with confidence throughout. Members of his friends and family also contributed with readings – some in person, some with pre-recorded videos – including his best friend Oliver who read a lovely poem “You’re Not Alone”. Music was provided by our hugely popular service leader Tammy Rich and daughter Emma. Rabbi Charley Baginsky, who was the Rabbi of KLS when the Dodds family first joined in the early 2000s, was also in attendance.

When he delivered his D’var Torah, Josh explained that he was initially reluctant to have a Bar Mitzvah, but following guidance from Rabbi René and his family, he decided to do so. He also explained that his Grandpa David, who sadly passed away in June 2019, would have been really proud had he been there. He also spoke about how sad he was that his Grandma Carol, who lives in Glasgow, couldn’t be there on the day – but that he knew it would not be long until they could see each other again and spend quality time together.

The Torah portion for the week was Parashat Tazria-Metzora, which covers what should be done should a plague be found in the house. Josh reflected on the relevance of this given our current cirumstances:

It shows that there has always been threats of disease as well as actual disease from the beginning of time. Not only has there been Covid in the last year but over centuries, there have been awful pandemics such as The Black Death and The Spanish Flu”.

He concluded by reflecting on what the current pandemic has taught us:

Other than showing us sadness, this pandemic has also taught us so much about hope and why we must not give up, not to be afraid. It has taught us to realise the true value and importance of friends and family. We must not take anything for granted“.

He then read really confidently from the Torah scroll:

Speaking after the service, Josh’s mother, Lucy, said “The whole day was so special. Josh made us so proud. His true perseverance and determination paid off and he was so poised and with the amazing support of Rabbi Rene he managed to enjoy every moment despite the nerves. We also realise how lucky we are with our KLS family and their support and good wishes. Also, despite it being a Covid BarMitzvah, it was made so special that we have a recording of the Service for prosperity and amazing that family and friends from around the world were able to join us. We were very happy to have Rabbi Rene lead us and amazing that Rabbi Charley joined us too. Made it even more special”.

Josh said, “‘Do the hustle’! Although I was really nervous I actually am so proud I did it and today I told Mum I think it was the best day of my life”.

Josh and family with Rabbi René after the service