The video on the bus silenced the squeals and yells of the children, and I took advantage of the quiet to visit one of my favorite places: the parade of thoughts marching across my inner terrain.

My son continued to hold my hand as we rode, and I enjoyed the warmth and softness of his little "paw" (as I like to call it) in mine. We were on a kinder-excursion from Rehovot to Jerusalem. It was time for the grand ceremony where each of the six-year-olds would receive his very own-Siddur and Chumash. It was a boy-and-dad sort of thing, and I was amazed to see that each Ta had, like me, taken the day off from work to make the trek.

There were about thirty boys, thirty tatties and even more photo and video cameras. It promised not only to be a thrilling event, but one that would be captured for posterity, as well.

We got off the bus just outside the Old City and marched to the historical Tzemach Tzedek Shul where a room had been decorated with a big official-looking sign emphasizing the importance of this event. We sat on benches, each Ta next to his son..

After a few speeches, the boys were called one by one to the podium to receive their Siddur and Chumash. This took more time than expected because each Ta (including me) had his boy pause-and-pose for his cherished photo. The tatties were beaming from forelock to forelock. Each boy stood proud and erect.

When the ceremony was over the music began. We hoisted our sons on our shoulders and danced and danced and danced. We handed our cameras to the dad in front of us so that we would have a picture of our sons and ourselves in this special moment. It was, to say the least, tricky. You have your son on your shoulders. You're holding his feet so he won't fall off. The line of dancing men and boys is moving in front of and behind you. The father behind you taps you on the shoulder and hands you a camera and asks that you take his and his son's picture. To do this you have to somehow release the grip on your son's little feet and find a way to balance him so he won't fall off. Your son's response is, of course, to grab you tightly by the head around the same eyes you need to take the picture. And, in case you're having trouble visualizing this procedure, it requires that you turn around and dance backward while taking the picture of the dancing dad/boy combination behind you. It is a move requiring great skill (and courage), but we all managed to do it, laughing and dancing along the way.

When the dancing finally ended, our sons ran to receive their special "kid-safe torches" for the torch-lit procession. With the torches carefully lit, we formed a sort-of-line and began to march through the Old City from the Tzemach Tzedek Shul to the Kotel (Western Wall), singing all the way. It was a proud but tricky walk because no Ta, including me, could see where he was going. Each of us had our attention focused directly and only on our sons and their supposed-to-be-safe torches.

We marched with unified pride as tourists and passersby stopped to smile at the cute little boys, their torches, and - did I mention? - the paper golden crowns that each boy wore. (Talk about cute!)

Arriving at the Kotel in time for the setting sun, the boys lined up, their faces dramatically lit by torchlight, and recited (screamed) the Shema Yisrael and assorted quotations from the Torah, Talmud and Tanya. Cameras clicked. Videos whirred. Torch wars were negotiated. Tatties were tired. And with great relief someone announced that the boys would now eat while the dads prayed the evening maariv prayer.

Off the boys went, while the fathers huddled in a group at the Wall.

As I began to pray, the sudden quiet once again caused a retreat to my inner thoughts. I felt a growing affection for this group of men and their sons. This was and would be my and my son's community for years to come. These boys would be his classmates up to and through yeshivah. I would know these dads for years and their sons would be a major influence on the development of my own child. I began to imagine the collection of photo albums and videocassettes that would accumulate in my home and theirs during the coming years. My albums would contain snapshots of all of their kids, and theirs would have photos of mine. Dozens more school trips and events. Summer camps. Class photos. Bar-mitzvahs. These boys would share thousands of school hours and Shabbat afternoons as the years passed. We were bound and woven into each other's lives. The maturation of each boy would profoundly affect that of all the others.

I looked up from my prayer book into the faces of the fathers who surrounded me and knew that each of them carried in their hearts the same love and concern for their son as I did for mine.

I imagined that each of us was praying our hearts out for our boys — that they be safe and healthy, grow smart and strong, become G‑d-fearing Jews and loving chassidim, that we all would merit to dance at their weddings and to someday hold their children (our grandchildren) on our laps.

Without intending it, I found the breadth of my prayers widen. I began to ask the Almighty that He watch and protect not only my son, but also each of these boys. I asked that all of us — each father — be provided the wisdom to raise our children properly, to instill in them good and healthy character traits, to recognize and nurture their special talents and abilities, to accept and cherish their weaknesses and limitations. I asked that each father be granted the ability to transform his love into compassion and patience, his hopes and expectations into wise guidance and careful instruction. I entreated the Almighty to bestow His blessings upon all of us and each of us, to see us and bless as one family, one community whose destiny was shared not only as a nation, but as a collection of individual families — each with its own hopes and struggles, its own potentials and restrictions, its own grandeur and foibles — who had come together to form a community and who were doing the very best we could to live up to His expectations of us.

As often happens when I pray at the Kotel, I felt my prayers penetrate the stones and I was rewarded by that very singular joy that occurs when one feels that he has been truly heard by another.

I opened my eyes to see each Ta davening intently. I wondered if we were, at that moment, all sharing these same thoughts. Or if, perhaps, I had simply drifted alone to visit my own inner world of hope and yearning.

It didn't much matter, really.

Soon we were back on the bus. It was dark now and we were all tired. Within minutes my son was asleep, his little head resting against my shoulder. I looked around to see thirty little heads resting comfortably and exhausted on the shoulders of thirty tired tatties.

And before I, too, fell asleep, I again felt my son's hand in mine and took a moment to enjoy the weight of his head on my shoulder and the steady rhythm of his breathing in sleep.

It was a good trip. If you'd like, I could show you the pictures.