Saturday, November 01, 2014
An 88-year-old New Jersey man will finally have a bar mitzvah Saturday after polio delayed the service when he was 13.
The poliomyelitis infection hospitalized Norman Alpert for weeks in 1939 while growing up in the Lower East Side. He was unable to get out of bed for the Jewish ceremony, according to the Asbury Park Press.
The Spring Lake Heights resident will have his chance Saturday at Temple Beth Or in Brick to read the Hebrew scripture he’s been practicing for weeks for his congregation.
“It means I’m doing what everybody is else is doing. I’m no longer an outcast,” Alpert told the paper.
The ceremony was suggested by his congregation even though he’s been an adult for the past 75 years.
The disease spared Alpert’s ability to walk, giving him the chance to start a career as an accountant and family, but it’s back, the Press reported.
Despite the near-global eradication of polio, post-polio syndrome affects survivors years after contracting the virus, with symptoms of fatigue, muscle atrophy and skeletal deformities, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
The syndrome is rarely life-threatening, but it has ruined Alpert’s spine, according to the Press, which now snakes like the Mississippi River.
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