It’s never too late for a bar mitzvah

July 17, 2018 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Last week Grant Duffey celebrated his bar mitzvah in his 60s at the Chabad Centre for Jewish life in North Qld  Cairns.

Rabbi Arin Rubin and Grant Duffey

Grant never had a chance to be part of the Jewish Community. He grew up with a Catholic father and Jewish mother and now lives in Harvey Bay, Qld far from any established Jewish community.

Grant had seen Rabbi Ari and Mushkie Rubin  on the Documentary “Outback Rabbis” and had decided to meet them to discuss his own history. While on a trip to visit his cousin in Ingham, he decided to travel the extra three hours to Cairns to meet up with Rabbi Rubin. He was finally able to get in touch with his Jewish roots.

Grant is now a fully-fledged Jewish adult well into his adulthood life.

In a Jewish rites-of- passage since Biblical times, a Jewish male reaching the age of 13 becomes a “Bar Mitzvah,” literally “son of the commandment,” marking the beginning of his Jewish adulthood, although, this doesn’t mean that you can’t celebrate this special milestone later in life, if you haven’t had a chance before.

There are no special requirements for an adult bar mitzvah. However, the bar mitzvah milestone is usually the mitzvah of tefillin. Which Jewish Men begin wearing at age 13, and continue to do so every weekday. “That day, laying Tefillin with Rabbi Ari was such a warm and wonderful experience” recalls Grant, “I can honestly say that I have never felt so at peace as I do now, and for that I will forever be in his debt.”

Grant’s Barmitzvah marks his commitment to his newly found identity. Although he never had a chance to celebrate it when he was 13, it’s never lost, on the contrary, the privilege of studying the Torah and performing the mitzvot is something to celebrate every day!

Rabbi Ari Rubin, emissary from the Chabad Lubavitch movement dedicated to enriching Jewish life in North Queensland, explained. “We are thrilled that Grant was able to celebrate this moment with us here. Becoming a barmitzvah is not so much about the ceremony; rather it is an inner, spiritual state of being. We are excited for Grant for he now knows where he came from and where he belongs, as part of the Jewish family.”

Rabbi Rubin told J-Wire: “The ultimate purpose of a Barmitzvah, however, does not lie within the customs of the day.  Rather, it is the impact and lifelong effect of the experience on the person’s identity as a Jew. The true meaning of a Bar Mitzvah is its role as a foundation for a lifetime of dedication to Jewish observance and growth. Grant loves learning about Jewish History and rituals, recently joining the global JNet program of Jewish tutoring over the phone with plans to continue his Jewish learning with them and me”.

Chabad-RARA of North Queensland is part of the world-wide Jewish Chabad movement


2 Responses to “It’s never too late for a bar mitzvah”
  1. Mervyn Leonard says:

    What an uplifting story.Kol Hakavod and a hearty MAZALTOV to Grant.
    Also a big Yashar Koach to Rabbi Rubin and his family

  2. Liat Kirby says:

    This story warms my heart. And I understand what Grant Duffey means by being ‘at peace’ – it’s a question of inner acknowledgement of identity through the Jewish recognition Rabbi Rubin enabled. A wonderful thing. Mazal Tov, Grant.

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