A Rabbi Dad Kvells!


It’s Mazel Tov time. This past Shabbat, our family celebrated our son Jonah’s Bar Mitzvah with our family, friends and incredible congregational community. A joyous kvell-o-rama!

As you may remember from earlier blog posts, Jonah attended JRC’s congregational trip to Rwanda/Uganda this past summer. In honor of his Bar Mitzvah, he’s been selling Mirembe Kawomera coffee every week at our congregation and he’s also raising money for our Fair Trade fund to help the Mirembe farmers with their capacity building. If you’d like to share in our naches, buy coffee!

Click below for some remarks from Jonah:

What I found interesting in my portion was that when Moses returns to Egypt, the Torah says that the Israelites would not listen to him at first. Maybe they didn’t listen because they were in such extreme circumstances that they didn’t know what to believe any more. Moses went to God and told God that the Israelites would not listen to him. So God instructed Moses and Aaron on how to deliver the Israelites from the land of Egypt.

The Torah never tells us what God actually said to Moses and Aaron. I think that God told them that they could tell the Israelites to work together for a common good to liberate themselves from the land of Egypt. They needed to understand that if they worked together with Moses and Aaron, they could create a better future for themselves outside of Egypt.

This is the main lesson I learned from my portion: that people living in hard circumstances, can work together to make a difference for the better in their lives.

This summer I went to Africa with JRC. We went to Rwanda and Uganda to volunteer with different organizations that provide help for people with HIV/AIDS and we also visited an interfaith fair trade coffee co-op called Mirembe Kowmara. Mirembe Kowamera is a group of Jewish, Muslim and Christian coffee farmers in Uganda who have come together to form a co-op.

In Uganda, we met with one of the coop’s founders – a Muslim man named Elias. One time when we met with him, he invited us to visit him at his house. So we went to his house for a short visit. While in his house we waited for him to return. We did not know what to do – whether we should leave or continue to wait for him. Soon he came back, and he started to talk about his house. He told us that he was able to build his house with the money he made from the coffee. He was very proud that he could show us his accomplishment.

Seeing this, I could really see where all the money was going. I saw the power of the co-op in action. I could see that, just like in my Torah portion, people can really make a difference if everyone works together for a common cause that will help change their lives.

7 thoughts on “A Rabbi Dad Kvells!

  1. Steve Nathan

    Brant (and Jonah),
    Mazel Tov and Yasher Koah! I’m sorry I couldn’t be there for this kvell-o-rama, as I was for Gabe’s. I’ll have to wait for the DVD!

  2. Lauren Parnell Marino

    Congratulations Jonah!!!!

    Great to read your reflections too. 🙂

    I’ll bring greetings from your family and the JRC on my next trip up to see our Peace Kawomera friends.

    take care. Look forward to seeing you guys again when I’m around this summer!

  3. myles

    it was a lovely service, and a great d’var torah! i loved the abounding humor, as well. it was also my first time in the new building, so that was an added bonus.

    mazel tov to you, jonah, and the rest of your family!

  4. Jonathan B-K

    Mazel tov to you, your family, and especially to Jonah! Thanks for sharing his d’var torah. Sorry we couldn’t be there to celebrate w/you. And selling coffee – great! Can I buy some Mirembe Kawomera coffee from Jonah?


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