Resilience involves being able to recover from difficulties or change. Sam Klein is not only resilient, but he is also a fighter. This June, Sam celebrated his second bar mitzvah. The ritual of becoming a b’nai mitzvah at age 13 means you are considered a Jewish adult. A young person overcomes the fear of public speaking and gains critical thinking and social skills. Important skills that can last a lifetime.  But at age 83 what does this mean?

Sam began his teaching career in New York City’s South Bronx in 1962. He is still working today, teaching topics pertaining to the Holocaust at Temple Chai on Sunday mornings. His wife of 48 years convinced the family to move to Arizona in 2004. Sadly, his wife, Paula, and his daughter, Shari, succumbed to ovarian cancer more than a dozen years ago.  After Sam recovered from esophageal cancer, around the same time, he slowly began putting one foot in front of the other. He began working out at the neighborhood gym and attending services at their family’s synagogue, Congregation Beth Israel. Sam stated he needed a sense of community and attended services, “perhaps not to worship but to question and argue with G-d.” Sam continued by emphasizing, “especially during times of extreme pain, we can forget why we are here — only to give back and do our best.”

This time, for this second bar mitzvah, Sam showcased his beautiful grandchildren. All four graduated from university with high honors; and many have chosen to go on and continue their education. The four grandchildren fulfilled the commitment and read a Torah portion along with Sam. Rabbi Stephen Kahn and Cantor Seth Ettinger were most generous in allowing Sam to celebrate this significant occasion with his extended family and the entire congregation. Sam stated, “bouncing back is still a lifelong journey.”

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