David’s Barmitzvah

This took place on the 7th January 2006, although like Jonathan’s it all started with a breakfast in Shul on Monday 2nd January. Thankfully it was a Bank Holiday so we all got a lie in as the service didn’t start until 08;30! Special thanks to Anne and Malcolm for being the official photographers that day

I’ve included photographs from the rehearsal on the Wednesday evening as well, especially as there weren’t any from the day itself, of course! No prizes for guessing the colour theme

Everyone enjoyed themselves and we managed to replicate the atmosphere from Jonathan’s – nice friendly, informal, relaxed and haimishe. I did have that “Jack Rosenthal” feeling when before shul we heard him practice in his room – whizzing through it perfectly, and then he came out, walked downstairs and said “that’s it, I can’t do it, I’m not going”. However, he did extremely well and was faultless.

A big thank you to all those family and friends that gave me all those flowers and gifts – the house looked really fabulous and it helped make the simcha, especially the Friday night.

Yet again a big thank you to Janice and Martine for the decorations and the food. Everyone will agree that they both gave that little bit extra, which turned it into a marvellous simcha – magnificent!

I’ve included the speeches below so that you can see what Steven should have really said, just click on each one to open and then click again to close.

Rabbi Kupperman, Reverend Gilbert, friends and family welcome to David’s bar mitzvah.

As I am your host for the afternoon I was told by several people what to say during my speech. Most of them were constructive comments. However, there was one that stuck in my mind more than most. It was from one of my customers at the Kosherie a couple of weeks ago – Norman Taylor. Can you remember what you said Norman? ……. No well I can, ‘it was ‘keep it short as by that time all I will want to do is eat’, sorry to disappoint you Norman but I’m going to tell you my story of Davids barmitzvah, and that takes time. 


 “This is the worst day of my life!”


These words were uttered by a pre-bar mitzvah boy some three years ago, just as his older brother was about to ascend onto the bima to read his maftir. No need to guess who it was, yes it was David. As you look at him now, a bar mitzvah boy himself, who would believe that I now have the opportunity to say the same back to him – but in public!

So David, I have one thing to say to you – it’s mazel tov. You have shown here today that you can complete any task that comes your way and that you can do anything that you put your mind to, and do it extremely well. I hope you know that I am so proud of you, I love you, and would support and help you do anything in life. You are one very special unique person – and I couldn’t ask for a better brother.

David is as I have just mentioned unique. However, there is one person who is disturbingly similar to him – Itai Yechezkel. When Itai is round those two enter into their own little world, one consisting of ‘Lord Of The Rings’ characters, football management and Star Wars. This world is heaven. However it lacks one thing – Time!

David and Itai are usually so lost in their own world that they do not remember anything, and I mean anything, not even to feed themselves. Many a time during the holidays have I returned home to be greeted by them, “its 5 o’clock – where is our lunch”, having told them at 12:30, that I was going out, and that they should make their own lunch.

Itai, let this be your first reminder. It is your Barmitzvah in 2 weeks, you have to be in Shul for 9:15 and you won’t have to worry about lunch that day as your Mum has got it sorted.

Whilst I am sure that you will all agree that David has responded well to the pressure of the last few months with his fabulous performance, he is not the only member of the Isaacs family that has been under duress during this time – the golden oldies have as well. Having no regard for their blood pressure, David and I usually invent clever comments just to keep mum and dad on their toes.

As the day got closer, we had to raise the bar and test “gullibility” to the extreme; every item to do with the bar mitzvah was fair game. The table plan was a particular favourite, every name was checked out and placed on the list in alphabetical order, or was it? “Mum, why is Jackson in the Gs with Goldberg and Glicher?” You should have seen her face and heard the noise!! However looking at them today, I don’t think they’ve got that many more grey hairs than they did 3 years ago!

When I told them, sorry, when I was asked to be the chairman at David’s bar mitzvah several months ago, I had plenty of time to prepare for it. However, I was stuck for what to say now and the introduction for my dad, so I turned to a pall of mine, Google.

I typed ‘Bar Mitzvah’ into the search engine and found an interesting fact, the longest speech made at a Bar Mitzvah was 180 minutes long, which was made by the bar mitzvah boy himself. However I have been going for 4 minutes, which means I only have 176 minutes left in order to break the record, sorry Norman!

I could spend that 176 minutes talking about Dad, especially as he asked me to say something nice about him. So here it is, “something nice about him!”

He has assured me that his weeks of speech writing i.e replacing “Jonathan” with “David” in something he found on the computer from just over 3 years ago, has been condensed into something original, short and witty!

Please welcome your host for today, the man who calls my mother “my first wife”, me – Jonathan, my brother – David, and my sister, “the angel who can do no wrong”, – my father.

Jonathan’s Speech – Olivia & Ilana:

We now come to the part which Olivia and Ilana have been so looking forward too! The loyal toasts – Olivia and Ilana


Jonathan’s Speech – Rachel:

Rachel was the hardest person to think of something to write about, in fact it took me 7 attempts just to put this to paper.

What can I say about her, she is a loving sister, has a huge sense of humour, and can tell better lies than I can – by that I mean Dad always believes her!

3 years ago she said she was too shy to speak, we didn’t believe it then and we certainly don’t believe it now!

She couldn’t use the same excuse twice so, ladies and gentlemen, with out further ado, I give to you my favourite sister, Rachel.

Jonathan’s Speech – David:

 The speeches are coming to a close, but the last person you are going to hear from is the man himself. So please put your hands together for the man of the moment, the star of the show, my favourite little brother, David.

Shabbat Shalom.

Rabbi Kupperman, Reverend Gilbert, family and friends. A big welcome to all of you on behalf of the Isaacs family. We are delighted that so many of you have joined us to take part in David’s Barmitzvah. We are especially delighted to see my Auntie Marie and Uncle Sydney, my great aunt Lilian and my father-in-law and mother-in-law.

Table 10 where are you? No you haven’t won a prize. You will not realize that you are sitting in a very special place. 21 years ago, almost to the very day, in this hall, I proposed to Sarah at a Leeds Jewish Students Ball. After 3 fabulous children, Sarah, you mean as much to me now, if not more, than you did then. 

Jonathan and Rachel. Jonathan – now a part-time worker at the local delicatessen where the staff and customers have taken to you in the short time that you have been there. Your mother and I are not in the least surprised.  We know you to be a caring and helpful son. Rachel – where did you come from!! You have the elegance and natural grace of a girl who has been to finishing school. Your brothers both adore you as much as your mother and I.

So David, you are a man! You proved yourself worthy on the afternoon of your call-up on Bank holiday Monday. For mincha we were 2 short of a minyan with ten minutes to spare and I knew that you had friends Ben, Itai and Jake at home doing some serious computer gaming. I rushed home, aware that only you and Ben were able to make up a minyan. I asked you and without a moments hesitation you both said yes and together you and Ben made it possible. Pretty good for your first day as a Jewish man.

David you are a sincere, sensitive, thoughtful and loving son, grandson and brother. Over the years both your mother and I have taken great pleasure in watching you grow up into the young man we now see before us. We are sure that you will continue to make us and the rest of your family as proud of you in the future as we are today.

We hope that you all enjoy the rest of the simcha. If you could all please wash your hands after which Michael Isdale will make hamotzi. After that please enjoy lunch – you will all be called to the buffet table in turn.

I have been given the chance to say what ever I want about my big brother David. Jonathan told me that I had to say something nice about David and that I must not lie. So where can I begin…….

David is a person of many faces – cheeky, cute and cuddly, “it wasn’t me!” and hairy! Most of the time we only get to see the hairy one – the back of his head! Reason being, most of his life is spent on the computer and the play station. In the run up to his Barmitzvah we have seen a bit more of him away from his play station – and he’s actually quite nice!

Arguments between David and me usually happen every day, and I usually win (even if he tells you otherwise). However this all changed when David’s barmitzvah began to approach. I still won them, naturally, however they happened more frequently than normal, and all resulted in the same outcome. We quickly forgot what the arguments were about and made friends again.

I am very proud of David today. It’s safe to say that I will allow him to give me a big kiss afterwards as a special reward, even though David says that I am at the age where I don’t like kisses.

Well I have done it; I have done what Jonathan has told me to do – a first he will say!

I have said something nice about David and not told a lie. David and Jonathan will say that this in itself is a miracle, but it was easy. David is my big brother, and I love him lots and always will.

Will you please raise your glasses and drink a toast to our Barmitzvah boy, my brother David




Rabbi Kupperman, Reverend Gilbert, friends and family. I am here today to celebrate my barmitzvah and Jonathan, for the record, today is the best day of my life.

As I take my place as a man in the community, I know that a barmitzvah is not the goal of Jewish Education, nor is it a graduation ceremony marking the end of my Jewish Education. I have reached a new stage of development in my life as I start thinking about the kind of person that I want to be. Having been brought up in a Jewish home and in a community that offers so much, I intend to continue learning and putting into practice what I have learnt so that one day, please G-d, I will feel what my parents feel today.

Thank you to everyone here who has helped me celebrate this occasion – it is your prescence (in both senses of the word) that is making this a day to remember. Thank you – for both!

I know that I am very fortunate and privileged. There are many Jewish people with learning disabilities that under normal circumstances would not have the social or Jewish experiences that I am lucky to have. Under the auspices of the Leeds Jewish Welfare Board, the Rainbow project in Leeds provides residential and community services for these people encouraging them to do ordinary things and to be fully included in the Jewish and wider community.

Mr. Jackson I couldn’t have done it without you. To say thank you for teaching me my maftir and haftorah we have made a donation in your name to the Rainbow Project and please accept this certificate to mark this (wait for him to come up and receive the certificate).

There are a few other people that have played a key part in my life in becoming a Jewish man.

Mr. Bell – I thank you very much for including me in the children service for around 9 years, when my father first brought both me and my brother in. Without your enthusiasm and knowledge I don’t think I would know half the Jewish facts or the stories of the torah as well as I do.  

Grandma and Grandpa. Thank you for always supporting me and looking after me, especially when my parents sneak off without us and more importantly for feeding me and Jonathan (and Rachel but she doesn’t eat as much as us!!). You have also cancelled your sapphire wedding anniversary celebrations for today, so thank you and Mazel Tov.

Mum and Dad. I can’t thank you enough for all the time you have spent listening to me practice every day. You have kept calmer than me on the days building up to this. You have planned this simcha and have done so beautifully – I couldn’t have done it better myself! Mum, I hope that my time-keeping today has reassured you that some bits of adolescence might be sorting themselves out, only some bits though!

Jonathan – thank you for being chairman today and keeping us in order. You have always picked me up and dusted me down, although when I’ve grown I may have to return the compliment!! I thank you today not just as a brother, but as a friend. You have always stood up for me and have been an especially big help during the last month.

And of course, Rachel. Rachel, my little sister. You are no longer little – you have made a speech today as I did on Jonathan’s barmitzvah and the biggest thing you have done for me, (besides not annoying me), is keeping me company – you are always there for me, thank you.

I hope that today has been as memorable for all my friends and family as it has been for me and I hope that you enjoy the rest of the afternoon. Will you all please join Michael Isdale in the benching.


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