This past Shabbat, our congregation celebrated the Bat Mitzvah of Sophie Sussman. Sophie is the daughter of Kelly and Benji Sussman. Sophie is also the granddaughter of Rabbi Lance and Liz Sussman. At the Bat Mitzvah, (stream here-around 45 min) Rabbi Sussman reflected about his own Bar Mitzvah, and the twists and turns of his life that led his son Benji, to meet his English wife, Kelly, at the camp where Liz worked. He remarked at how all of the pieces, places, and people came together in a way that he was able to stand next to his grandchild, 55 years after his Bar Mitzvah, and the year of his retirement. He called that moment, that event, and Sophie; meant to be.
We often wonder how these perfect pieces fit together, and find each other. Rabbi Sussman, Liz Sussman and I have a similar story. Liz met my husband Ross at the same summer camp that Benji and Kelly worked at. She was the Director of Surprise Lake Camp, and she remarked how many couples met there and how the connections they made there stayed with them for life. Rabbi Sussman and the Sussman family met me years before I came to KI. I answered an ad for a cantorial student job in Binghamton, New York. I was the cantor at Liz and Lance’s son-Micah’s Bar Mitzvah.
“Meant to be” seems to be words that we address situations that are blessings, but in hindsight. The process of making a divine connection leading to a path that feels “meant to be” or “blessed” is found in the concept of closeness. A few Hebrew words perfectly express how we achieve closeness- “Aliyah” means to go up. It is a word used to bless the Torah or to move to Israel. Aliyah is directional, in an upwards direction; closer to a divine spirit and a higher plane.
Another word often used in the Torah is “Korban.” “Korban” which means closeness, refers to sacrifices or offerings to God. When we give of our hearts, our possession, or our prayers we are finding closeness to God.
I do admit that I get emotional at Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, but Sophie’s Bat Mitzvah was extremely emotional for me. This week we say goodbye to Kelly Sussman who has been working in our preschool for many years. She brought so much cheer, her many artistic and organizational talents, and her friendship to all of us. She will be missed but we wish her the best as she begins her new journey.
To have had the opportunity to stand next to Rabbi Lance and Liz Sussman’s granddaughter, Sophie, as she was blessed, was “meant to be” for me. That moment was destiny winding its way into blessings and closeness to family, friends and God.
I pray that all of us have the opportunity over the next few months to think of all the blessings given to us by the Sussman Family and know in some part, they have brought us closer to community, with their love and care to each of us.