Can a kid who doesnt sing in the shower chant on the bimah

When I entered the rabbi's study, I hoped for the best, but I didn't really expect much.

I was there for a parent-teacher conference with Rabbi Ira Grussgott, spiritual leader of my shul, Congregation Anseh Emeth in South River, N.J.

The rabbi, lead teacher of my seventh-grader's bar mitzvah preparation team, smiled as he greeted me, then proclaimed, "Will isn't the kind of kid who sings in the shower."

I was amazed.

How did he know that? Was he moonlighting as a clairvoyant for a psychic hot line?

Then he told me that my son was practicing his haftarah at home, but not every day.

"Am I right?" he asked.

Although Will wanted me to cover for him on this subject, I wouldn't.

"Right again, rabbi," I said.

And when I answered his questions about Will's interests, motivations and study habits, he seemed to know the answers before I could give them.

The more the rabbi spoke, the more I was convinced that a special bond had developed between student and rabbi, a bond between one Jew and all those who preceded him and those who will follow.

I still saw my son as the wisecracking little boy who had trouble distinguishing between a gimel and a dalet; the rabbi saw him as a serious young man about to ascend the bimah and take his place in the Jewish community.

There are daily revelations of who my son is and glimpses into the future of who he will become.

Gone is the grumbling that greeted me on Shabbat mornings past, when I had to drag Will away from the TV cartoons and the comfort of his bed so we could arrive at junior congregation before Aleinu.

I can't honestly say that Will wakes up on Saturday eager to put on a suit and tie and go to shul. But he is committed to fulfilling his requirements and only expresses the complaints entitled to anyone who just completed a week of rising before the sun.

The three members of the teaching team help Will with the haftarah, the parashah, the Musaf and the other prayers.

But my son is also learning what it means to be a Jew when he's outside the synagogue.

Although it wasn't "Bring your kid to work day," I brought Will with me when I had a business appointment at a nursing center.

We were running late and I had other stops to make. But as we were leaving, one of the residents called me over and started to talk. She seemed desperate to have a conversation with someone, anyone, and I chatted with her for a few minutes.

After we got back in the car, Will said I was nuts for wasting my time with a person who was clearly out of touch with the world.

But as we discussed this on the way home, I think he finally got the point that being Jewish involves more than going to shul and saying the Sh'ma.

This bar mitzvah year has provided me with some very emotional moments and the promise of many more to follow.

When I heard Will struggle through his initial attempt at the opening lines of his haftarah, I was fearful that he'd never master it all in time for the big day.

The first Shabbat that Will was called up to the bimah to hold the Torah, I was teary-eyed.

And on Thursday evenings, when I pick him up from bar mitzvah training program at the local Jewish high school, I know my bubbe and zayde would be so pleased that I am the mother of a yeshiva student, if only for an hour a week.

No, rabbi, Will doesn't sing in the shower.

He has no ambitions of becoming a cantor. But he does tell funny jokes in the kitchen, even though he probably won't become a comedian.

Will's a good kid and a proud Jew — that's all we can ask for.