Rabbi Leonid Feldman celebrated his Bar Mitzvah last month in Temple Beth El in West Palm Beach, Florida, the synagogue where he is the spiritual leader. But next week he's turning 60. Why a Bar Mitzvah celebration now?
As Betty Nelander wrote in the Palm Beach Daily News:
As a 13-year-old growing up in the Soviet Republic of Moldavia, Feldman was denied this opportunity since Jews there could not practice or study Judaism or Jewish culture. He never heard of a bar mitzvah, a synagogue or the Holocaust when he was 13 and living under Communism.
“I say to people: ‘It is unusual. Usually you get bar-mitzvahed and then you become a rabbi. I am going backwards,’ ” said Feldman, who has performed hundreds of bar mitzvahs. “To be honest, there is no law that you have to be bar mitzvahed. Think about it: There are 3 million Russian Jews have never heard about bar mitzvah but they are Jews. A million and a half of them live in Israel and they still don’t know anything about it.For the first 6 minutes and 20 seconds, he speaks as the thirteen-year-old he was in Kishinev and how he hates his name and hates being a Jew. Then he abruptly shifts to the present and delivers a moving Bar Mitzvah speech about how he loves Judaism and believes that Judaism is the most beautiful thing ever created.
“American Jews take it for granted,” said Feldman.
Leaving behind religious suppression in Russia, Feldman went to Israel for three years. He then traveled to Italy for a year, and arrived in America in 1980. He moved to South Florida in 1988, a year after becoming a U.S. citizen. He was the spiritual leader Temple Emanu-El of Palm Beach for 12 years. He then was the rabbi of Temple Emanu-El in Miami Beach until 2004.
Enjoy the video. Shabbat shalom.
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(A tip of the kippah and a copyof our e-book, Jewish Humor on Your Desktop, Volume 3: Humor in Jewish Life, to Jonathan Minsberg for bringing this video to our attention.)