Several Shluchim, Anash and their Simcha guests have already enjoyed, followed and understood the famous Bar Mitzvah Maamer far better than ever before.
For many parents, the preparations for their son’s upcoming Bar Mitzvah involves confirming the details with the caterer, photographer, musician, video crew and all that is necessary in creating a beautiful and memorable simcha.
But for Mendel Geisinsky’s parents there was one more tedious and lofty obstacle to overcome; it was how to keep the crowd’s attention during the recital of the maamer that every Bar Mitzvah boy works so hard to memorize.
Especially as they are on Shlichus where many in the community have no idea what is going on at this time – what should the guest in attendance be doing during the 10 to 15 minutes it takes for the Bar Mitzvah boy to recite the maamer? How to keep the decorum in the hall?
We assume there are those who will spend the time checking their messages on their cellphones. But pay attention? Most don’t understand Yiddish or what is being said, and even those who do understand Yiddish might find it difficult to comprehend a maamer authored by the Rebbe Maharash more than a hundred years ago.
So, close to 12 months before Mendel’s Bar Mitzvah, Mendel’s father Rabbi Meir Geisinsky, Shliach/Youth Director in Chabad Five Towns, no stranger to customizing slideshows and videos, took it upon himself to try and come up with something visual to display during the recitation of the maamer to clarify several of the concepts expressed. The idea evolved – slowly, and tirelessly.
Experimenting with several ideas, requesting assistance from other rabbis and shluchim regarding a precise translation was indeed a laborious task. Progress was slow until by hashgacha pratis the Shlucha Faigie Kaplan from Flamingo, Ontario, Canada, posted an email on the Shluchos email forum that she was looking for options to keep their Baalei Batim involved during her son’s Bar Mitzvah. A partnership was formed, as Rabbi Meir Geisinsky took care of all the graphics and Rabbi Mendel Kaplan (Faigie’s husband, a renowned lecturer ) spent much time preparing, translating and condensing the text of the maamer.
Rabbi Meir Geisinsky is very thankful that his son is only a few months younger than Shmuel Kaplan from Toronto. He is extremely appreciative for the help Rabbi Kaplan provided.
Rabbi Geisinsky has since personalized the maamer for more than 20 Bar Mitzvahs. Rabbi Geisinsky adds: “I’m delighted to be able to take part in a Simcha even from a far distance. Bringing the maamer to a level that many more can understand and appreciate is a heartwarming task. Even the Bar Mitzvah boy himself gains tremendously from watching this video during his preparations.”
At Mendel’s Bar Mitzvah, a family friend Brandon Margolis said, “Whereas I would normally be trying to pick out whatever words I could understand and try to piece together the meaning, suddenly the maamer came to life.”
Jeff Neckenoff, Lecturer and DJ shared after the maamer, “I was so engrossed, I didn’t even realize that I had received 5 texts during the maamer.” And Shliach Rabbi Mendy Harlig from Las Vegas, Nevada said: “Thank you it was beautiful. I got a lot of complIments from my family and people in my community.”
When asked how simple it is to make this happen, Geisinsky responded: “It’s a lot easier for the parents. All the parents need to do is send me six set pictures of the Bar Mitzvah boy and pay the nominal fee. I will incorporate their son into the maamer presentation. Whenever the maamer talks about learning Torah, there’s a picture of the Bar Mitzvah boy; when it talks about wearing Teffilin, there is a picture of the Bar Mitzvah. These breath taking scenery pictures are positioned on the screen near the text of the maamer. The parents need to determine the amount of time it takes for their son to recite the maamer so that the presentation will be customized for him. On one occasion the Bar Mitzvah boy simply read the Maamer translation from the video – as the Yiddish or Hebrew would have been too difficult.
And now, the maamer has been made available in 6 languages, including Spanish, Swedish, Russian, French, Italian and English.
For more information, visit www.maamerpresentation.blogspot.com. Special discount for Shluchim – payment arrangements can be made if need be. (The Maamer presentation can also help any Bar Mitzvah boy better understand the maamer. All are welcome to visit the site for this purpose as well.)