Baby’s First Bat-Mitzvah

originally published: 2012-05-01

Saturday April 28

I had forgotten that there was going to be a Bat-mitzvah at shul on this day, so very few of the regular congregants showed up, and there was a lot of family and extended family, of course. It was the first Bat-mitzvah I’ve actually ever witnessed, and I think I’ve only seen about two Bar-mitzvahs. I have two male cousins, but I can’t remember if I attended both, and I was very little. I remember loving noodle koogle.The Bat-mitzvah was lovely, and Maya acquitted herself extremely well, I thought. With one of the usual cantors backing her up, she lead us through most of the first part of the Service, and she did a torah lesson (parshat) at the end, and then read for her own Alliyah. I don’t know if she was using the transliteration, or actually reading but she did fine.

One common thing at Bat-mitzvahs and weddings, is to give out customized kippot (skull caps) with the name and dates of the event printed inside the cap. Kippotare highly customizable items – I don’t really think there’s many rules about their construction. They have to be roughly round, and cover the back of the skull. They can be made out of practically any fabric, in any style, sewn, knitted or crocheted, and decorated and embellished however one likes (six-pointed stars, and representations of the 12 tribes being common themes). Even being round is relative – there are hexagonal and octagonal kippot as well.

In fact, when Christian children in Sunday School are making ‘stain glass’ (cellophane) crosses and stars-of-Bethlehem to hang in their windows, and yarn angels to give to their mothers, Jewish children in Hebrew School are making clay menorahs and dreidels, and decorating kippot fabric blanks with colourful patches of fabric, beads and charms, and fabric paints for their fathers and zaddies.

My zaddie died when I was 18months old, and my father is an extremely atheist lapsed Lutheran.; I don’t think I’ve actually ever made anyone a kippah before.

Maya’s family had supplied kippot. They serve as part favour or keepsake, and partly as a non-judgemental way to supply kippot to those who may not have their own. There’s no obligation to wear one, but if you show up and decide you’d like one, it’s there for you.

While watching the Bar-mitzvah I thought about getting kippot, one for myself, and perhaps one for Graham to wear when he attends shul things with me. I decided to wait until after the Service, so that any direct family members would get one first. Clearly a keepsake of Maya’s Bar-mitzvah wasn’t going to mean as much to me as someone who actually knows her.

While daydreaming, I began thinking about embellishing the kippot. Maya’s family had chosen plain, purple satin ones. The colour was a light purple, but it reminded me that the Lenten shrouds were a deep purple, and that purple seems to have a connection with the Catholic church at present (although I don’t know what it is exactly). Amethyst purple, specifically, also has connotations for me – through my love of Amethyst, and my original on-line handle, Amethest, which also became one of the names I married Robin under.

I decided a contrasting amethyst (and Catholic Church) purple cross, with its arms stretched to the edges of the kippah would work well for Graham. It was still in my mind that I wanted to make him something, and we had mutually decided that for various reasons an SCA favour would be inappropriate. I also thought there was a beautiful blending or harmony in combining the Christian symbol, with the Jewish artefact, and connected through the two shades of purple. The kippah serving as the base on which the Cross blossoms, or spreads itself.

Towards the Torah portion, I snuck out to the lobby and grabbed a couple kippot. After the Service, we had lunch downstairs. Maya’s family had catered the Kiddush, and it seemed to have some of the usual stuff, but as it was catered, it was quite excellent. I even had a second portion of the baked salmon, and I don’t think I’ve had a second helping of a cooked salmon in years. There was also cous cous, green bean and red pepper salad, hummus, challah buns, an eggplant and tomato antipasto thing, and green salad with goat cheese. For dessert there were sugar-cookies-on-a-stick butterflies and flowers, lemon tarts, fruit, and chocolate cake.

It was an excellent spread, and I stayed quite late talking to yet another Christian drawn to Jewish Renewal, named Gwen. Specifically she stated she was from a “Christian background,” but “did not believe in it” and asked me some questions about Judaism and Or Shalom’s policies.

I told her about the Bat-Mitzvah kippot and explained that they were for anyone to take – they were basically like favours, and that she could wear one if she liked. (I did mention them as separate from the random assortment of loner (SCA would call it GoldKey) kippot)

I told her I wasn’t sure about the talliot, but I was sure no one would mind if she took a kippah. I showed her the little button hole underneath, where you can slide in your bobby pin so you can pin it to your hair without the pin showing. It was nice chatting with her – she teaches Comm11 and Comm12 (the so-called dummies English class, for people who need their equivalency, but won’t be able to pass English11 and English12).

Afterwards, I ended up walking out with Reb. Laura and Charles, and got to tell them how nice I found the Bat-Mitzvah, and that it was my first one I’d been to.

I decided to go up Fraser to the Dollar Store – there was a few things for camping I wanted to look for, and maybe some craft stuff for the kippot. I ended up getting almost none of what I was looking for, but several other things instead. I found nice, white nylon socks, more J-clothes, and some clips to attach a kippah.

I also stopped in at the Fields closing sale, and saw a pair of moccasins for Dr. Carus. I hadn’t been specifically looking for them, but Jardine had a chapter on hiking in moccasins, so I guess they were on my mind. These ones were billed as slippers, but they had good rubber soles attached in a way that they aren’t really visible from the top. So, mocc by day, hard-soled walking shoe by night. Also, they were on sale for $10.50. I knew Graham was likely in session, but I texted him to ask what his shoe size was, in case he happened to check his phone. He never responded. I bought him 11s, because they only had whole sizes and my impression was he was something like 10 or 10 and a half.

I also got some small hardware storage boxes for Robin and for Dave. The boxes were something like what Robin is always looking for to store tiny computer parts, and I figured everyone should get a present. Finally, I bought some more bulk tealights for Shabbat on hikes.

Robin texted me, asking point blank, “Where the Hell are you?” which surprised me – I didn’t think he’d be that angry I was late home. I came home and had a brief nap, and then Robin made a wonderful steak, mushroom, potatoes, cheese and gravy dinner. He and I also drank a bottle of wine with it, and I got sleepy really quickly.

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