CNN published "A rabbi, a Mormon and a black Christian mayor walk into a room..." today. It is an entertaining article and profiles a unique friendship among three very different men.
The article served to remind me of something that occurred in my own family. It may seem small to others but it had a profound effect on all of us.
One of my nieces in California was invited to a Bar Mitzvah by a friend. I'm not certain if she attended the ceremony itself or simply the celebration of it. My own knowledge of Judaism is so sketchy I can only guess, since most of my own knowledge comes from bad movies.
I do know that the invitation occurred months before the actual event. She was honored to be asked and the invitation was rather exclusive as I recall, the only non-Jew he invited, I think. Months of anticipation and preparation followed, undoubtedly for the young man but also for my niece.
News of the invite quickly spread throughout my very Mormon family.
We were all concerned that she conduct herself in a manner that would be respectful to her friend and the importance of the event she was attending.
Conduct was the main concern in the early months. As the event drew near, more practical considerations received attention. She got a new dress and new shoes. In addition, another of my nieces styled her hair and helped her with other aspects of her personal appearance.
Okay, this may not be unusual for teenage girls. However, it IS a bit unusual for my niece who is somewhat resistant to appearance and hygiene issues, especially if they are at the core of power conflicts with her mother.
I'm not certain if the young man or his family knew how important our family, but especially my niece, considered this invitation. To be invited to such a religiously significant event left a lasting mark on all of us.
It introduced her to other religious beliefs, religious people and religious ceremonies in an authentic and significant way.
I cannot imagine a better way to obtain that type of knowledge.