The Many Dreams of Ron Bing

Ron Bing celebrated his 80th birthday by chanting his Bar Mitzvah Torah Reading on Dec. 23 at Temple B'nai Tikvah.

By David Sklar

(AJNews) – What’s a Jew to do on the morning of Christmas Eve? There is no punchline at the end of this question. If you are as tired of me of the endless Christmas holiday mall music or the frightful weather this city has been hit with, there is only one place that can act as a sanctuary for the day: Temple.

On December 24, at Temple B’nai Tikvah in Calgary, Ron Bing invited family, friends, and temple members to his bar mitzvah. Or rather his re-bar mitzvah. At age 80, Ron last performed his torah portion when he was 65 at Temple B’nai Tikvah and before that as a 13-year-old at Temple Emmanuel in Montreal, where he grew up.

What promoted this move to re-re-recite parsha miketz, the story of Joseph and his prophetic dreams to Pharoah?

Ron and Judy Bing 

“Celebrating my bar mitzvah brings me closer to God, to my religion. Rabbi Glickman tells me that one can celebrate a bar mitzvah at age 13 and again at age 83. So, you might be invited to a fourth celebration in 2025!” But Ron didn’t want to take any chances in case he didn’t make it to 83.

The Rabbi provided context of this tradition. The psalms say you get to have a second bar mitzvah when you’re 83. “The years of a man’s life are three score or if you’re fortunate, three score and 10. So your first life is for 70 years. And if you’re fortunate, 70 plus an extra 13, it’s time for your second (bar mitzvah).”

At first Bing didn’t see any parallels in his torah portion and his own life. It wasn’t until Rabbi Glickman asked him to prepare his d’var torah (a torah commentary shared with others) that he began to see the links.

“Joseph gets thrown into the pit by his brothers. He is sold into slavery. Later he gets tossed into jail. A few weeks after my 14th birthday, my father suddenly died of a heart attack at the age of 48. I believed that I was responsible for his death. This was because I used to fight with my younger sister, causing stress to my father. In my teenage years, his death and my reaction to it brought me into my own pit of despair. But G-d then speaks to Joseph through dreams. He was able to pull himself out of the depth of despair. And during my teenage years, I climbed out of my pit and was fortunate to receive the help that I needed. We all go through periods in our life when we find ourselves in a pit.”

Bing turned his life around, became an engineer and eventually moved with his new partner Judy, to Calgary.

Was establishing the first reform synagogue in Calgary part of his dreams too?

“Not at all. It was Judy’s dream not mine,” he explained. “We came in 1974 and joined the conservative synagogue. Judy had a cold, wasn’t feeling well and we were having a baby naming for our newborn, Lisa. Judy talked to the Rabbi and asked if we could postpone the ceremony. The rabbi said: No, you don’t have to be there, it’s not important.

“I don’t know if that was because she was a woman and wasn’t considered important but that was the inference. And she got upset and told me, “We need to start our own temple!”

In April 1979, with help from the Canadian Reform Movement and many people, The Bings held their first Shabbat service in their living room.

Many other dreams were fulfilled for the Bings with two other children and a growing and thriving community. Temple eventually moved from basements to a library and finally to their own building. “But,” according to Bing, “the building isn’t important. It’s the people. When we started up, we had to debate, do we want a rabbi or a building first?” They opted for the rabbi.

Bing speaks fondly of his time cultivating and developing what he sees as a family-centred temple. One of his colleagues, Roz Mendelson, a Temple board member, couldn’t agree more. “Ron’s heart is in temple. From the get-go, he thinks about what he can do, how he can nurture it. But he also has the big picture and what the needs are. And he consistently works towards making sure that those issues are addressed. And he will always speak his mind. He’s not embarrassed to speak up. He will do what he thinks needs to be done without seeking approval from others. It’s not that he’s insensitive, but he knows what needs to be done and will act to do it. And what leads him is the love of Temple and the community. And you gotta love him. I mean, that’s it with Ron. Everybody will say you gotta love and respect him.”

“Do you remember your dreams?” Ron asked the congregation as his voice filled the room with emotion. “We’re told that dreams are a reflection of our subconscious. They are of our soul. Like Joseph, we can learn how to interpret our dreams, but it takes hard work.”

Rabbi Glickman concurred and added. “One of the amazing things about the Joseph story is that God doesn’t ever appear as a character. God is invoked. God is perceived, but God doesn’t act as a character. Joseph, in other words, exhibited great strength by seeing the events surrounding him as the hand of God at work. And this is really the essence I believe of the religious quest. It is to see God at work (in our lives). And you (Ron) did that today. And in all your dreams (coming true).”

Bing isn’t interested in slowing down any time soon. He is still active both physically and spiritually and is pushing a fund-raising drive to replace Temple’s 1955 cast iron boiler. “A friend of mine once said, we all should give the way we live. If you can donate…consider it in honour of my 80th birthday!”.

After Ron concluded his reading, the Rabbi wanted to stress that while this special day isn’t an official “Bar Mitzvah” and rather a Torah reading, one thing Rabbi Glickman could agree upon was that “Ron Bing has finally become a man.”

Donations for the new boiler can be made by calling Temple B’nai Tikvah at 403-252-1654 or online at under the Al Osten Building Fund.

David Sklar is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

1 Comment on "The Many Dreams of Ron Bing"

  1. I remember attending services in Bings’ basement in the beginning and in the other locations (great memories of guitar music to prayers and songs). I remember being able to carry the Torah. My daughter and I were relatively new to the city and I didn’t drive yet. The Bings’ efforts allowed us to feel at home in the Jewish community and I will always remember their positivity, acceptance and sharing. Happy birthday Ron!

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