My Zaydie was a very proud Jew. The type to wear a big gold Chai around his neck and pepper his language with lots of Yiddish words. He began praying every morning with tallit and tefillin after his father passed away. He was no shrinking violet and when it came to connecting with his Creator every morning. He wanted to be noticed. And so, he had the biggest, most colorful, rainbow tallit available!

As a young teenager, I also began praying in the morning alongside my Zaydie in my own newly acquired tallit with my Bubby's beautiful pastel embroidery, and my Zaydie's hand-me-down tefillin. Every morning during summer vacation I would wake up before anyone else and rush out of the house to his Buick to beat what would otherwise be a honk that would wake up the neighborhood. After services we would do our customary two laps around the parking lot to stretch our legs and then Zaydie would eat his bagel and take me home.

This was not my decision after allWhen I was in college, I gave my Zaydie's tefillin to my boyfriend (who was to become my husband). He had never owned a set and I was happy to relinquish them to someone I loved. During that time I started learning even more about my Judaism and growing in my observance. My Zaydie was deeply proud of my commitment to Judaism, if not a little ambivalent about the path I was taking. My grandparents raised their three daughters in a kosher home with strong religious and egalitarian values. I was maintaining the religious aspect, but they were concerned I would lose something of myself in the more traditional gender roles of Orthodox Judaism.

Two years ago my Zaydie passed away on Lag B'omer at the age of eighty. After the funeral, my Bubby took me into her room and bequeathed to me my Zaydie's tallit and tefillin that he used every morning. My oldest son was eleven at the time and, knowing I would never don the ritual objects myself, my Bubby requested that my son wear the tallit at his Bar Mitzvah. I casually explained that it is not our custom to wear a tallit until marriage.

But that was not the only reason I didn't want him wearing it…

I don't know if you have noticed, but sometimes the world of Orthodox Judaism can appear a bit black and white. Colorful clothing, specifically for men, is not common. I could not imagine my son, a newly minted teenager, going against the grain and wearing such a tallit in shul at his Bar Mitzvah.

When I told my grandmother that it is not our custom to wear a tallit I thought it was a closed matter. But I clearly hadn't been as sensitive as I should have been about the subject, because two years later the tallit issue has resurfaced. My Bubby, who is one of the most accepting women I know, just called to tell me that something was bothering her.

It was my grandfather's tallit. It meant so much to my Zaydie, and she wanted to know why my son couldn't wear it while he was called up to the Torah. She understood he wouldn't be wearing it daily as per our custom, but at least he should wear it the first time he reads the Torah. I did not know what to say. How could I force him to do something that would cause him to stick out on the day when he would be the center of attention? I told my Bubby I would discuss it with him, but to be prepared for a negative answer. She assured me that she trusted I would do the right thing.

I slowly pulled the wool cloth out in all its Technicolor gloryOf course I wanted to honor my Zaydie and his memory, but I also wanted to honor my son and his choices for his special day. Then I took an even deeper look at the situation. Maybe there was something more sinister. Maybe the real concern was how I would appear with my son wearing such a tallit!

Eventually I realized that this was not my decision after all. So I brought down the embroidered tallit bag from the shelf in the closet and called my son in to talk. I told him it would mean a lot to his great-grandmother if he would wear Zaydie's tallit.

I slowly pulled the wool cloth out in all its Technicolor glory. His response – "Okay, I'll wear that." In his understated way he affirmed the values passed down in our family through the generations.

And then it hit me. My Zaydie died on Lag b'omer. This is the day the students of the great Rabbi Akiva stopped dying from the awful plague that was killing the entire group of 48,000 because they did not treat each other with proper respect. These were great men who knew the entire Torah, but lacked the element of mutual respect. Mutual respect was something my son inherently knew. I was the one who had been willing to forgo the honor and memory of my Zaydie for the completely trivial matter of appearance. It was my issue, not my son's.

My son has absorbed true Torah Judaism. If something is important to his Bubby, and it fits within the strictures of Jewish law, of course he says yes without hesitation. And there is clearly no mitzvah in the Torah that mandates black and white over honoring your grandparents. Once again, my son had taught me an important lesson. I had him call his great-grandmother immediately to tell her it would be an honor for him to wear the tallit..

In a few weeks, there will be a rainbow inside a shul in suburban Philadelphia. Yes, it will be my son's tallit glowing neon colors from the bima. But it will also be my Zaydie's neshama, his great-grandfather's soul, shining down with Yiddishe nachas, true joy.

Now if I could only find a matching rainbow colored tie for my husband – to go with his black suit of course!