A traditional cut — They stood in line patiently, waiting to wield a pair of scissors and snip the first pieces of hair that had ever been cut off 3-year-old Menachem Mendel Zaklos' head. Mendel's grandfather from Detroit, Rabbi Tzvi Zaklos, left, supervised the procession of haircutters, nearly 200 in all by the end. When it was his turn, Mendel's father, Rabbi Fishel Zaklos, snipped a piece of hair and held his son's face lovingly. It wasn't a lesson in beauty school, but a first haircut during a customary Jewish upshernish, or hair-cutting ceremony. The family chose to follow the Jewish custom of not cutting the side curls in front of his ear. 'The community did a fabulous job,' said Rabbi Fishel Zaklos, who planned to take his son elsewhere to have the cut finished evenly later. 'It wasn't cut entirely the way I would have wanted it,' he said. The upshernish ceremony is held by some Jews when their sons turn 3. Girls have a similar ceremony at that age, but, instead of a haircut, it involves candle lighting. For both boys and girls, the event is about much more than hair or candles. It marks the beginning of a new stage in life, brings the community together and impresses upon their child the importance of the Jewish tradition. For a boy, the ceremony is a formal introduction to his life over the next 10 years during which he will prepare for his Bar Mitzvah. While it is never too early to teach a child, the rabbi said, at this stage, when he is really exploring, it is important to give a child a positive experience and begin teaching him about his religious tradition. 'At age 3, a child really starts learning, he really starts asking, he really starts thinking,' Zaklos said. And during this time, he will gain a foundation of good values as he studies for his Bar Mitzvah, he said. Now that he's 3, Mendel will begin wearing his yarmulke, a skullcap, on his head nearly all of the time when he is awake, representing the higher force in his life. He also will begin wearing a tzitzit, a four-cornered garment with four fringes, which symbolize his Jewish identity and represents the commandments in the Torah that he will fulfill. Published December 3, 2006

Photo by Tracy Boulian, Daily News

A traditional cut — They stood in line patiently, waiting to wield a pair of scissors and snip the first pieces of hair that had ever been cut off 3-year-old Menachem Mendel Zaklos' head. Mendel's grandfather from Detroit, Rabbi Tzvi Zaklos, left, supervised the procession of haircutters, nearly 200 in all by the end. When it was his turn, Mendel's father, Rabbi Fishel Zaklos, snipped a piece of hair and held his son's face lovingly. It wasn't a lesson in beauty school, but a first haircut during a customary Jewish upshernish, or hair-cutting ceremony. The family chose to follow the Jewish custom of not cutting the side curls in front of his ear. "The community did a fabulous job," said Rabbi Fishel Zaklos, who planned to take his son elsewhere to have the cut finished evenly later. "It wasn't cut entirely the way I would have wanted it," he said. The upshernish ceremony is held by some Jews when their sons turn 3. Girls have a similar ceremony at that age, but, instead of a haircut, it involves candle lighting. For both boys and girls, the event is about much more than hair or candles. It marks the beginning of a new stage in life, brings the community together and impresses upon their child the importance of the Jewish tradition. For a boy, the ceremony is a formal introduction to his life over the next 10 years during which he will prepare for his Bar Mitzvah. While it is never too early to teach a child, the rabbi said, at this stage, when he is really exploring, it is important to give a child a positive experience and begin teaching him about his religious tradition. "At age 3, a child really starts learning, he really starts asking, he really starts thinking," Zaklos said. And during this time, he will gain a foundation of good values as he studies for his Bar Mitzvah, he said. Now that he's 3, Mendel will begin wearing his yarmulke, a skullcap, on his head nearly all of the time when he is awake, representing the higher force in his life. He also will begin wearing a tzitzit, a four-cornered garment with four fringes, which symbolize his Jewish identity and represents the commandments in the Torah that he will fulfill. Published December 3, 2006

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