?

Log in

No account? Create an account
The Bat Mitzvah that Ate My Life - Mo's Journal
October 18th, 2005
10:06 am

[Link]

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
The Bat Mitzvah that Ate My Life
is over, or mostly so. I'm going to get back to fanfic, really soon.

Kendra’s bat mitzvah was truly lovely and, I think, enjoyed by everyone. I’m still totally exhausted and I have very busy times at work plus out-of-town guests until Thursday so I won’t stop being exhausted for a while, but I do have a few minutes to say a little bit about it now, for anyone interested. Some fairly random observations:

- I always cry at bnai mitzvah. This was no exception.

- She did soooooo beautifully. She took the whole thing very seriously, thought so much and so deeply, worked so hard, and it all really showed.

- I’m really glad I’ve got performing kids. With all the pressure and anxiety of a big event like this, I’m happy that we weren’t dealing with stage fright on top of it all. All those years of dance and drama really paid off. Kendra had such grace and composure (and so did the other two).

- As some of my f-list knows, I found myself smack dab in the middle of the whole Who is a Jew? thing as Kendra’s bat mitzvah approached. I am pretty happy with how it all got resolved, but it really made me think more about the balance between self-identification and group membership.

- It’s really not easy to plan a major event with one’s ex. I’m very happy we pulled it off. I felt like we were not doing very well at times, and I thank my rabbi for helping us through it. On the day, I felt like we both did just great.

- I love my shul. I feel totally blessed to have found a place that is so welcoming, participative, inclusive and so very much meets my needs for Jewish community. I’ve always felt that, but even more so now, particularly seeing how my far flung friends and relatives wish they had a place like it.

- It was serendipitous to find a Jewish lover before the bat mitzvah. She was hugely helpful in the preparations and in keeping me calm.

- I love bnai mitzvah in part because they are so emblematic of the age. The kids (at least in my flavor of Judaism) work very hard and for a long time, putting serious intellectual energy into the task. They get up there and leyn (chant torah directly from the scroll), chant haftarah, lead part of the service, and give a pretty sophisticated talk, teaching the congregation insights into the parsha. Then they have a party and dance and play a whole lot of kid games. It just really illustrates how on the cusp they are – partly adult, partly kid.

- I leyned for the first time at Kendra’s bat mitzvah. When I was a kid I was in a shul where girls were not allowed to leyn, which was pretty universal within the Conservative movement at the time. I never learned how and I felt committed to learning in time for my daughter’s first time. As recently as two weeks ago, though, I was saying “Why did I ever think I could do this?” Well, I did it and I feel a real sense of accomplishment (and want to do it again). And it was very moving to me to be up there reading Torah with two out of three of my kids.

- Given my estrangement from my parents and former estrangement from my entire family of origin I was very touched to have many of my relatives there and so happy to be there.

- I’ve got to start planning Zara’s earlier. The bat mitzvah really took over my life for too long.

- I feel like I did everything I could to keep costs down for the celebration. We had beer and wine, not open bar at the party; “glorified cocktail party,” not sit down dinner; paper plates, not china. My ex and I made the invitations; I bought beverages for the Kiddush and lugged them to the shul myself so as not to pay the exorbitant price the caterer charges. I did a bunch of other stuff myself, too – bathroom baskets at the party, welcome packages for the out-of-towners. I didn’t even get a new dress for the occasion. But still, it cost a bloody fortune. When you’ve got a 750 sq. ft. apartment, you can’t give a party for 100 people at home. When you rent a place, you have to use caterers. Every time I turned around I was spending more money. Oy.

- We had various minor catastrophes, but nothing we couldn’t handle. At the last minute I had to find alternate transportation for one of Kendra’s best friends (who lives in Boston) and have her stay with us, instead of with family friends. It worked out.

- I had 11 people sleeping in said 750 sq. ft. apartment Sunday night, and will have out-of-town guests through Thursday. I’m having a wonderful time catching up with them.

Current Mood: jubilantjubilant
Tags:

(19 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments
 
[User Picture]
From:jane_sehrn_ta
Date:October 18th, 2005 03:00 pm (UTC)
(Link)
It sounded like a wonderful celebration for you, your kids and your family. Congratulations to you all! (((huggs)))
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:October 18th, 2005 08:18 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Thanks! Here's Kendra at her party (can't take pictures at the ceremony, but the party was after sundown).
[User Picture]
From:jane_sehrn_ta
Date:October 18th, 2005 10:26 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Awww, she looks so pretty! You must have been so proud :D
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:October 18th, 2005 08:19 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Me, too! It's a relief.
[User Picture]
From:ringthebells
Date:October 18th, 2005 03:43 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Congratulations to Kendra and you!
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:October 18th, 2005 08:19 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Thanks. Two down, one to go.
[User Picture]
From:musamea
Date:October 18th, 2005 06:51 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Congratulations to you all. I'm glad you had fun.
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:October 18th, 2005 08:20 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Thanks. There was a while there where I was worried that I was so drowning in arrangements that it wouldn't be fun, but it turned out it was.
[User Picture]
From:blue_braces
Date:October 18th, 2005 07:39 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Congratulations to Kendra and to you! I was particularly touched by your mention of planning the event with your ex. I'm sure it was difficult, but bravo to you for doing what you could to make it about Kendra's needs on her special day (but, it sounds like, taking care of yourself at the same time).
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:October 18th, 2005 08:24 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Having kids together ties you forever in some sense, for better or for worse. It's been both at various times :-/.

The bat mitzvah stuff was a struggle some of the time, but we managed to make decisions together, make and send out joint invitations, collaborate on arrangements, hug each other after Kendra's dvar and stand up there together as a family - all five of us - for the blessings over wine and bread. It seems like so little when I write it like that, but I've seen divorced couples who did separate bar/bat mitzvah parties, who didn't even speak to each other at the ceremony, who wouldn't sit together, etc. So we did better than many.
[User Picture]
From:blue_braces
Date:October 18th, 2005 09:53 pm (UTC)
(Link)
You did better than my parents, that's for sure. The rabbi at the synagogue I grew up in had to secretly invite my mother to my Bat Mitzvah so my dad (who was the parent with custody) wouldn't know about it beforehand! But then my dad couldn't even bring himself to come to my B.A. or M.A. graduations, held in the universities' basketball stadiums, because my mom would be there. At least I didn't have to figure out how to keep them apart after the ceremony!
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:October 19th, 2005 01:02 pm (UTC)
(Link)
My ex-ILs are like that. Can't be in the same room, even though they've been divorced for twice as long as they were married! My ex-FIL didn't go to graduations or his son's wedding. When I get frustrated with my ex's behavior, I remind myself that she had lousy role models for divorce and she's doing much better than her parents.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:October 18th, 2005 08:38 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Well, this was my second, so I should have known what to do when, LOL! In some ways it was easier because I'd been through it before.

But my son's was during my plague year of 2001 - planning it in the midst of a breakup, moving, job insecurity, and a national tragedy 6 weeks before his bar mitzvah. A whole lot of that is just a blur looking back and I just didn't do everything I'd wanted to (no programs, no out-of-towner gift packages, didn't learn to leyn, etc). I remember meeting with the caterer for his bar mitzvah a couple weeks after 9/11 and just kind of saying again and again "That sounds fine. Serve whatever you think is best."

She said "Wow! You seem awfully calm for someone who's hosting a bar mitzvah in a few weeks." I felt like responding "I've got bigger fish to fry, lady."

Anyway his was lovely in its own way, but I feel more like I did my part right this time. So, maybe next time I'll be a pro :-).
[User Picture]
From:eveningblue
Date:October 18th, 2005 10:09 pm (UTC)
(Link)
It sounds absolutely wonderful--congrats!
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:October 19th, 2005 01:26 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Thanks. Way behind on everything else, but hoping to catch up soon. How's your dad?
[User Picture]
From:eveningblue
Date:October 19th, 2005 04:42 pm (UTC)
(Link)
He's the same, thanks for asking.
[User Picture]
From:talktooloose
Date:October 20th, 2005 12:58 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Mazel tov to you and your daughter. It is really something to see a kid that age take the ceremony seriously and stand in public chanting ancient words from a parchment. There is a kind of connectivity there that an LJ community can't touch!

I hope you're not too burned out -- or at least burned out in a way that leaves you feeling warmed.
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:October 21st, 2005 03:20 pm (UTC)
(Link)
It was totally lovely. It is the sense of community that is much of the appeal for me. My relatives just left yesterday to go back to Winnipeg. It was great having them. OTOH, it was nice to get my bedroom back, too.

I was going to paste in the text of the program I wrote for the bat mitzvah, so you could see some of what we did, but it's too long for lj comments.
Mofic Powered by LiveJournal.com