Mark Schwartz brought an assortment of cakes and cookies to work-to his New York City police station-that had been freshly arranged for an event earlier in the day. He had just reached a milestone he’d been considering for nearly a decade: his bar mitzvah.
“I was always saying, ‘I never did that before; I think this is something I’m missing in my life,’ ” says the 27-year-old. “It’s a rite of passage I never received, something I missed.”
Jewish observance was not a strong focus when Schwartz, who works for the Borough Patrol Queens North, was growing up. Schwartz explains that Hebrew school would have meant more learning and classroom time-and on the weekends, of all things. At that time, he says, “I didn’t understand the point and wouldn’t have wanted to go.”
As a child, he sometimes went to Shabbos dinner at a friend’s house, he recalls. It’s nice to be able to do this again as an adult, he says, this time at Chabad of Forest Hills North in Queens, N.Y.
A Queens native, Schwartz met Rabbi Mendy Hecht-co-director of the Chabad center with his wife, Chaya-at a Shabbat dinner last summer at the rabbi’s house. A friend he knew through work invited him along. He was explaining to the rabbi that he never had a bar mitzvah but wanted to, and the rabbi and Schwartz’s friend, Dr. Louis Philip Rotkowitz, helped put it on the calendar. Read more at Chabad.org.