This weekend we went to a not-quite-cousin-but-still-sort-of-family-member’s bar mitzvah. You guys are synagogue classmates and he had the distinction of batting lead-off for this year’s bar/bat mitzvah class 2013-2014. It was the first big bar mitzvah you’ve seen at temple and so not only were we there to support him, but we were all taking notes knowing it will be you up there this March.
This March. I’ve thought a lot about that since we officially kicked off all the planning, scheming, ordering, and list-making a few months ago. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a bar/bat mitzvah at our Temple – so you and I are learning this together in a way.
Tonight, you asked a lot of questions like who sits where on the pulpit, who get what parts of the service… the logistics. You worry about your Torah portion because everyone has talked about what a big deal it is – and it is. But, for all the pride I know I’ll have watching you read or chant your portion, tonight I realized that is not the moment I will remember more than anything.
You asked who sits where up on the pulpit on Friday night. I explained that the dads sit next to the ark, then the kids to their left, then the moms, grandparents and others are scattered in other chairs on our side. As the service begins, we and our partners and both you girls will walk down from the back of the pulpit and come down to light candles and say blessings – then we’ll return to our seats.
The next time it is your turn, I will watch you stand up and walk to the microphone to begin to lead the congregation in the service, but you will do that by yourself, without us, a single voice.
I will watch as all the months of preparation, learning, crying, laughing and rehearsals come together in one moment where it is only your voice that speaks to the congregation. It is that moment where your bat mitzvah really begins.
I wish there was a way to take a picture of you in that moment. Where the recessed lights from above frame your hair, hands resting on the prayer book to guide your reading, your feet fidgeting a little behind the lecturn, hidden from view, an outlet for your excitement and nerves. I’ll never have a physical print of that picture, but I promise you I will always carry that image, that moment with me.
Swimmy, this is quite a year for you – and us. Tonight I was reminded that all that scheming and planning was really about being able to enjoy the smallest big moments – and I can’t wait to file them one by one.