Tuesday, March 28, 2006

What Mitzvah? Bat Mitzvah!

This Saturday was my cousin Bonnie's bat mitzvah. In Judaism, when a girl or boy reaches the age of 13 they are accepted into the community as an adult. A special service commemorates this milestone and the entire family and synagogue celebrate. Did I mention it is a really long service? It began at 9:30 Saturday morning (sundown Friday to sundown Saturday is the Jewish sabbath) and lasted until almost 1:00. I think this might have had something to do with there also being a baby naming ceremony, but whatevs.

Mom and I arrived at the synagogue at about 11 and snuck into the back. Of course all Mom's cousins (she has 17!) recognized us right away because we are these two red-headed splotches in the back row, but it was ok. While my cousin's synagogue is conservative, with such a long service it is not uncommon for people to stand up and move around, go to the back to chat and visit, or have to take their kids out when they get fussy. Most people walked right by Mom and I and kind of stared. I chalk this up to 1) they didn't recognize us and in a tight-knit community they wondered who the strangers were and 2) I in no way look Jewish. Although Mom does except for her red hair. She is a wee little Jewish woman!

As part of the service, Bonnie was required to read for the Torah. Although Jews don't just read. They sing the text. So Bonnie (who had just turned 13) had to stand up in front of hundreds of people and sing. In Hebrew. And then she had to give a speech. But that was in English, whew! She handled herself with grace and aplomb and sounded really good! Turns out that all Mom's cousins are great singers. I think we should take our act on the road: The Meiselman Family Singers (and Maggie).

After the service (finally) ended, we retired to the gathering room where we had lunch. But of course we had to bless the food and that took another 10 minutes of praying/singing. Then we dug in, mingled with the family, and I scored an invite to a Passover Seder in April. Sweet! The best part of the afternoon was after the eating was done, we did more praying/singing, but this time it was awesome praying in celebration of Bonnie with hand clapping, feet stomping and much harmonization. The only little hiccup was when my uncle (my Mom's brother), told her she had to put our camera away because we couldn't take pictures in the synagogue on the sabbath. She got all offended and huffy and was mad at him. But she's always mad at him so I tried to brush it off but she kind of fixated on it for the rest of the day. I'm trying to talk her into coming to the Seder with me, but who knows.

Overall, we had a great time and it was nice to see my family in a non-funeral environment. That seems to be the only time we all get together anymore. Mazletov Bonnie!

Mom's Quote of the Day: "I sure am glad I was raised reformed. It took a lot less time to do stuff. There was a heck of a lot less praying."

Currently Listening to: Summer Mix! The calendar says Spring dammit.

Currently Reading: "Labyrinth" by Kate Mosse

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