Bat Mitzvah

My youngest child is preparing for her Bat Mitzvah. She doesn’t read from the Torah until November, but the preparation for her reading and her speeches is about to begin. She’s nervous about the entire thing. Because she’s my third child, I have a sense of calm that was impossible for the first child and somewhat closer for the second. She, of course, is convinced I’m calm only because I don’t understand the gravity of the situation. I’m delighted to be able to tell her I understand it perfectly.

The first Bar Mitzvah was such a stress test. I had no idea what I was doing so I listened to those who “knew better.” We wound up with a celebration, despite my repeated no’s, that was fit for the coronation of a king. It was over the top in a way I’d never imagined. For my second son, I listened to no one and had a very simple celebration after the service. It was a little too simple for me, but just what he was comfortable with, so it was good.

This Bat Mitzvah celebration is going to be slightly fancier than the second but nowhere near the first. My daughter has been to enough parties now to have definite ideas of what she wants. I sometimes feel sorry for her when her request for silk chair covers and custom-made centerpieces is met with a no. There will be plenty of time for those things. The Bat Mitzvah celebration is not one of them.

I’m focusing her attention on the Mitzvah part of the celebration. We’re celebrating that she is now thirteen and in the Reform tradition can now read from the Torah. That is the important thing. It’s not her dress, her shoes, the party favors, or the type of cake she’s having.

She’s a reasonable kid. She’ll get it long before she’s memorized her Torah portion.

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