Besalah by Todd Krieger

The Decision Tree

I hadn’t really thought too much about what I might do differently at my Bar Mitzvah before reBar. But there was a moment that day in January, 1981 on which I have reflected from time to time.

My temple in those days (as it is now) was on California Street in San Francisco. My home was, depending on what app you use, 23.7 miles away to the south on the Peninsula. The family had recently returned to the Bay Area from the North Shore of Chicago and I was to be a Bar Mitzvah at the temple where my parents had been congregants when they had previously been San Franciscans. I was what you might call a commuter Jew. 

I also had somehow ended up with two girlfriends, one in each location. And as I did not drive, and this was before the ubiquity of GPS and Social Networking, the near marathon distance may as well have been a continent away. And as such, I hadn’t considered what might happen when both of my ‘girlfriends’ were in the same physical space. When both of said young ladies were seated nearly side by side in the audience at my Bar Mitzvah.

And so, as I stood on the Bema and shared my aspirational desire to continue my Jewish education, (see image of actual notes) and gave my precision analytical reading of Besalah, Moses’s journey to the Promised Land, I too was trying to divine how I would get to my own promised land. Into whose arms would I find myself at the end of the service. The decision tree wasn’t horribly challenging but it was a distraction as I tried to think about what I was going to say once I descended from my pulpit before the Ark.

 It’s a funny adolescent moment but given this gift of reBar and the opportunity to think on this anew, it strikes me that with the benefit of all these years I might have been better served contemplating the whole of the congregation vs. the cute red-headed girl with the ice cream name and my other more Teutonic crush. That really soaking in my grandfather who would pass a few months later, and taking note of all that was around would have created a more lasting memory, a richer fabric to carry me forward. But hey I was 12 so I give young me a little (but not too much) slack. And oh yeah, I’d think twice about that Roller Disco party as my Bar Mitzvah celebration. 

Todd Krieger is the Editorial Director at Deep Focus, a leading digital advertising agency.. When he’s not strategizing on behalf his clients he rides his road bike through the streets of San Francisco, spends as much time with his wife and daughter, and still gets excited when new comic books come out every Wednesday.