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Miles' Extraordinary-Ordinary Day
Miles with Torah
Miles with Torah
Miles' Extraordinary-Ordinary Day

Kvell [kvel] Verb from Yiddish. To beam with pride and happiness.
On August 10, 2013, 13-year-old Miles became a bar mitzvah. He helped lead the morning service in both English and Hebrew. He read from the Torah. He delivered a speech about his Torah portion. He carried the Torah amongst the congregation. He was confident and poised. He touched everyone’s heart. He offered us much to be proud of and happy about. Miles’ family and friends kvelled! Miles is a young man who was born with Down syndrome. For him to become a bar mitzvah was extraordinary, yet to a large extent, his day looked like any ordinary bar mitzvah. Miles began studying in depth for his bar mitzvah more than two years ago. But his dream began in 2005 when he made it his goal to become a bar mitzvah after witnessing his older brother Nate become one. We are fortunate to attend a synagogue that is dedicated to providing a Jewish education for every child and committed to doing what it takes to make that happen. With the commitment and support of his family and the synagogue team, Miles achieved his goal. Miles’ support team developed a thoughtful and individualized education approach. For several years at Sunday school, Miles was matched with a young adult tutor to learn prayers and participate in class activities with his peers. During his final year of preparation, Miles studied one-on-one with our synagogue’s beloved bar mitzvah tutor to learn and practice everything he needed to know. Miles attended services, listened to recorded prayers, practiced prayers using flash cards with transliterated Hebrew, and rehearsed the service several times in the sanctuary. These two did amazing work together. Miles proved to be a very capable and enthusiastic student, both at the synagogue and at home. On his big day, Miles delighted in greeting his guests and made everyone feel welcome. No nervousness present. He exuded confidence and connected with the congregation. His summer camp friends sat behind him during the service, encouraging him with kind words and pats on the back – they had all helped Miles practice for his bar mitzvah at during camp in June. Several people reported tears of joy at many moments during the service. During his bar mitzvah party, several of his young adult friends delivered beautiful toasts to Miles – one of the highlights of this extraordinary-ordinary day. In the following days, Miles received many thoughtful calls, emails and letters from family and friends who said how much his bar mitzvah had touched them. A few days later, Miles’ enthusiasm led him to continue practicing the prayers on his own at home. And he told us he wanted to have another bar mitzvah. Oy vey!

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Julie Evans, United States, IL
11/14/2013 5:33:15 AM
Thanks to all who read Miles' story!

margaret knoblauch, United States, MN
11/13/2013 10:52:55 PM
So proud of you Miles....job well done!!!! Love from Aunt Shannon's Aunt Margaret...we met you at Shannon and Jon's wedding in Florida!!!!

Rachel Wood, United States, IL
11/13/2013 9:23:22 PM
What a great story and what a special day it was. Mazel Tov Miles

Shannon Chalden, United States, GA
11/13/2013 9:22:02 PM
Miles is quite an amazing guy! I feel so fortunate to be able to call him family. Love you to all...and MAZOL TOV! :)

Cathy Kase, United States, IL
11/12/2013 6:42:19 PM
Mazol Tov to Miles, his family and his Jewish community!

alexa markoff, United States, IL
11/12/2013 5:59:16 PM
Great story - I really liked reading it. Miles is a great kid with a supportive family and Jewish community behind him. I like the synagogue's willingness to ensure that Miles had his Bar Mitzvah by dedicating an entire team to work with him - kudos to them for really embracing inclusion. And mazel tov to Miles, the Bar Mitzvah boy.

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