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.