When Zev Jacobs was three years old, he was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The doctor told his mother, Cantor Julie Jacobs, her son will most likely never learn to read or write. Well, let’s just say that doctor was wrong: not only did Jacob learn to read and write in English, but in Hebrew as well. Cantor Julie Jacobs and her son belong to temple Beth David Congregation in South Florida, where the congregants have never witnessed someone with autism make his Bar Mitzvah…until now- Zev Jacobs will be celebrating his Bar Mitzvah this Saturday.
A Bar Mitzvah is a rite of passage for Jewish boys when they reach age 13.It’s an extremely important and family oriented occasion and an even bigger occasion for Zev. Zev’s mother says he always had a strong interest in Judaism, especially the prayers and music, but was not expecting this day to ever come,
“More than 10 years ago, when Zev was diagnosed with autism, doctors told me that he would never be able to read and write…First he was attracted to the music. Then, he learned to not only read and write in English, but in Hebrew as well…I am so proud of the milestone he will accomplish at his bar mitzvah.”[i]
Zev even learned to play the drums, and played them at the congregation’s monthly Shabbat Pasión service, which is a collaboration of traditional Jewish music with contemporary Latin and world music, led by Zev’s mother. Hopefully Zev’s Bar Mitzvah will start a trend, so other boys with autism can also celebrate this joyous occasion.
[i] “Miami Herald” Autism doesn’t stop teen from celebrating bar mitzvah. 03 Oct 2013. Web. <http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/10/03/3660953/autism-doesnt-stop-teen-from-celebrating.html>