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Rabbi's Update 1/21/2022

Dear Friends:

My late father’s birthday was February 2 and mine is February 9. When it came time to schedule my Bar Mitzvah, my father was the Ritual Committee chair of our Reform temple and he wanted me to have my Bar Mitzvah on the same weekly parasha that his was on, Parashat Yitro. And so my Bar Mitzvah was on January 27, a couple of weeks before my 13th birthday. As I got older and more traditionally observant, it began to concern me that maybe my Bar Mitzvah had actually been too early, since most Conservative rabbis, myself included, will not allow a Bar Mitzvah to take place prior to the young man’s 13th birthday.

But of course we are talking about the 13th birthday according to the Hebrew calendar and there can be almost a month’s difference in either direction between a Gregorian birthday and a Hebrew birthday depending on whether the person was born during a Hebrew calendar leap year and whether or not the current year is a leap year. So with the advent of ubiquitous computers and Hebrew calendar programs, I checked a few years ago whether or not my Bar Mitzvah had actually been held too early. (I hasten to add that there would have been no “real world” consequences if this were the case. I would not still be a boy if my Bar Mitzvah had been early nor would I need to repeat the ceremony.) To my great relief, I discovered that both my father and I celebrated our Bar Mitzvah on the correct date and further, that even though my father’s birthday is a week before mine on the Gregorian calendar, my birthday is five days before his on the Hebrew calendar (mine is 17 Shevat and his is 22 Shevat).

Tomorrow we will read Parashat Yitro and it is the first year that I will not be able to call my father before Shabbat and wish him a happy anniversary of his Bar Mitzvah. Yitro is especially “early” this year but it is a Hebrew leap year so there is an “extra” month of Adar which gives us an additional month to prepare for Purim and then Pesach.

As always, if I can do anything for you or you need to talk, please contact me at or 301-977-0768 rather than through the synagogue office. Although I am working primarily from home, I am happy to meet you at the synagogue by appointment.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Charles L. Arian

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