Usually my weekends are full of blogging. I can finally stop and breathe – spend a little time on my couch ruminating. Or a lot of time.
Not so much this time of year.
I’m running around like mad, attending events, preparing myself and my family for said events, buying things for the events, helping out with the events and on and on and on, really.
Yesterday was my first Bat Mitzvah, and it was a very. full. day. I just can’t imagine what it is like to be a member of a thriving synagogue, where these events happen every weekend!!
The service was at 10:15; ended at 12:15. The luncheon followed immediately, and was scheduled to end by 1:30, but people weren’t cleared out until 2. I knew, because I was the last to leave – other than the mom of the honored girl.
I left at 4:30.
I helped set up for the party. Then, when I had to cry uncle, so I could get home, I instead went and bought a gift for the child, which I had neglected to do until them. Damned my status as a working mother who dared to have 2 birthdays, a work party, a book group meeting and a kid who had her first dance all in the week prior to the Bat Mitzvah!
I got home at 5:30 just to jump in the shower and bitch* my way through getting my family out the door … which we did 30 minutes late.
The party was crazy fun. My girls barely sat down all night – they danced like a couple of fools. They even dragged Beloved and I out onto the dance floor a couple of times.
During the party, I was jealous of the culture. Not the religion, but the culture. I was jealous of the dancing and the clapping and the songs. These things that the adults had been doing since they were in their parents arms, and which were natural and fun – which they associated with parties and smiles.
But earlier in the day, when I was asked point-blank “don’t you wish you were Jewish?” I could only stammer “the service was lovely.” If I’d been able to gather my thoughts better, I would have said, “no, but I do wish I could speak Hebrew.” Because the sounds were nice. The writing is pretty.
But the prayer book included translations, and I believed not a word of it.
Like, not even one.
I guess I was a little surprised how similar it was to the things I had been exposed to in my younger years. I have been educated more and more on the Jewish faith over the past few years, while living in a largely Jewish community, and was led to believe that the two faiths were worlds apart. I mean, I was told they don’t believe in SIN!! How can you have a religion without SIN? Doesn’t sin=religion?
But nah. The words in that book weren’t so different. All the almighty-ness, and one-ness, and power, and source of all life and on and on and on.
I also wondered, while sitting in the service, whether my kids were feeling a hole in their life. They watched their friend exhibit the fruits of months and months of study, practice and meditation. Clearly, this 13 year old girl had some level of belief in all she was saying and doing. Yet my daughters sat there watching without any corresponding dedication or belief system.
J sat between Beloved and I, and for most of the two hours, she was rigid, if not trembling. She seemed so uncomfortable.
It was hard to translate.
I spoke with E today during our day together (post hopefully forthcoming) about the service and the experience. She had sat with friends, but only a couple rows in front of me. I know she was engaged in the service, and I know she read along in all the books, and I know that she didn’t talk to her friends ONE TIME in two hours (man, was I proud).
She said she did not feel at all jealous, and was not interesting in exploring whether there was a religious community which she would be comfortable within. She listened to me (eyes rolling) about how I felt some jealousy about the shared culture, the passing down of FUN from generation to generation. I told her how I still feel so self-conscious in my body – in dancing, in sports – and that I wondered if I grew up dancing at parties with my family if I’d have more freedom. She said she didn’t think that the religion had anything to do with it, and she doesn’t want to go to a church.
We also sat with 100% Jewish couples at lunch and dinner, and I noticed how quickly there was community based on the shared faith. Not to mention the built-in community within the congregation.
Of that, of the community, I was a little jealous.
But I can’t do it – not based on religion.
I have a (non-Jewish) friend who is a member of a Unitarian church (or is it Universalist?), where they celebrate and embrace everything.
I can’t do that, either.
I can’t say, “the pagans have it right!” and “The Jews have it right!” and “The Catholics have it right!” and run around hugging everyone for their rightness.
Isn’t there a church where people get together and talk about how bogus all the various faiths are?
Or where people get together and talk about how cool storms are?
Or about how Hilary Clinton is George Bush with a vagina? And perhaps a few more brain cells? Like 2 more? Or 4.
How about the cool-ness of the daemons in the His Dark Materials series?
Can we talk about what it’s like to watch our kids grow up?
Why does it have to be about god? and the absoluteness of the truth of our ideas?
Well, other than the absolute truth that Hilary is a butthead.
The answer is no. I don’t wish I were Jewish.
I do wish that dancing was fun for me. And I do wish I could make cool noises in the back of my throat.
That’s where it ends.
I did have a great day, and thought the party was fantastic, and I’m happy for my friends that their daughter’s day was as wonderful as they had hoped it would be. I’m glad I was able to help, and I’m glad that we were included on her special day. It was an honor.
* So, sue me. I’m bleeding to death, I’m tired, I have a lot to do, and all I want to do is rest. Instead, it’s go-go-go. Yes, I was bitchy as a result. I tried to make good. I tried to be up front about my stress level and exhaustion level. I tried to apologize when necessary (often). But I’m not perfect. (Understatement of the year).