The Mitzvah Of Showing Up

May 9, 2024
David Sternfeld

Charleston, South Carolina, United States

Class of 2024

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I’ve been taught from a young age that the most important thing we could do for our family was to show up. I never quite understood it until I grew older, as I’ve been able to grow my connections to my extended family and see my parents with their cousins. It’s taught me a lot about the importance of family and connections to the people you love.

From California to Florida, family simchas (celebrations) have taken me all across the US. Getting to bond with my cousins and create fun family memories is one of the things I look forward to every year. When my parents were growing up, they visited with their cousins as often as they could. These special moments they shared drew them together and created an unparalleled bond. 

I’ve been able to see this bond between them especially well throughout every family gathering. Whether it’s all the cousins from all the generations sitting around a table and reminiscing about funny memories that happened, or a trip out on the town, they find some way to make the most memorable moments out of everything. This trait shines especially in moments of celebration. It is well known around the Charleston area that Sternfeld celebrations not only bring people from all over but bring them in huge quantities. For my bar mitzvah, we had around 300 people, 120 of whom traveled to celebrate with us. For my brother’s, we had around 350 people, 120 of whom traveled to celebrate with us. Recently, when we celebrated my grandfather’s 80th birthday, and family from all over came in and celebrated. It was amazing to see all of the cousins and everyone who came into town, but it felt a little different not having my “younger cousin” David with us. David had to stay home that weekend because he had a baseball practice that he couldn’t miss since he committed to Samford University to play baseball. But little did we know, he had some surprises up his sleeve. When we arrived at dinner that Saturday night to celebrate, he walked up the stairs to where we were all gathered to eat dinner. The look of absolute joy on my grandfather’s face as he turned around and saw David reminded me of the importance of showing up. No matter if it was only for a few hours, showing up was the most important thing we could do for our family. 

Some families only show up for the funerals of their loved ones, but not mine. Whether it’s a small simcha, like a birthday, or a big one like a bar or bat mitzvah, we know we have to show up for it. It’s always been an expectation that whenever there is a family thing, it, as my mom likes to say, is a “command performance”. It means that we show up for everything for our family. 

I’ve learned a lot of lessons from my family over the years, but this is the one I keep getting taught over and over again. It may not be inscribed in the Torah, but it’s definitely etched into my morals forever. Time and time again, showing up for family is what we do. It’s what makes my family special. It’s why we make the sacrifices we do, even if we have to miss out on something else, we always show up for the family. It’s a lesson I hope to teach to others and for the future generations of people to follow. Family isn’t just related by blood, it’s the people you choose. So show up for them. Be there for them through the good and the bad. Be someone they can count on. 

David Sternfeld is an Aleph living in Charleston, South Carolina who loves 3D printing, swimming, and playing baseball.

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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