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Two B’nai Mitzvot

I just celebrated the 30 year anniversary of my Bat Mitzvah.  By “celebrated,” I mean that I texted my friend who shares the same Bat Mitzvah date and said to her, “Happy Bat Mitzvahversary!”  I intended to get myself a treat, but the day got away from me and then it was time to go to a meeting for the twins’ B’nai Mitzvah.

Because they were born when I was 30, we always celebrate milestone moments 30 years apart.  They started Kindergarten 30 years after I started Kindergarten.  They will graduate 30 years after I graduated.  And they will have their B’nai Mitzvah 30 years after mine.

We’ve had the date for years, but it has always felt remote, like visiting the island of Sark.  It’s one of those places that doesn’t feel that far away (at least it’s not as far as Tibet) and should be accessible, yet I don’t fully believe I’ll ever get to visit.

But here is their B’nai Mitzvah, racing toward us.  Exactly 30 years after I stood on the bimah, pretty much to the hour, I sat at a round table, jotting down notes about assigning honours and ordering cookies for after their service.

It is this weird thing because I still remember sitting on the swing set in my backyard, teaching myself my Torah portion.

I’ve been working with the twins on theirs.  Because I have a translation degree, we’re coming at it from a translation angle.  We sit at the kitchen table, translating their portion together, from Hebrew to English using five dictionaries spread out around us.  We break apart words and look up their etymology and play with form so they can see how different words relate to one another.  As we translate the passage, we keep saying the words in Hebrew.  And that’s how we’re learning it; a few words at a time crawling under their skin, into their bones so that when their day on the bimah finally arrives, it will be like spending time with an old friend.

I still remember chunks of my Torah portion 30 years later.  I can sing the first few sentences without looking at the page.  I wonder if it will be that way for the twins, too, 30 years from now.


1 Cristy { 05.28.17 at 7:42 am }

What memories must come as your twins reach this milestone. I’m betting it’s very surreal. Most trips down memory lane like this usually are.

I’m very intrigued that you are teaching ChickieNob and Wolvog these passages by having them translate and understand the etiology of the words. Im curios to see how this intregrates given you are having them learn at a higher level (memory and recall are the lowest level and often forgotten, but synthesis is much higher and often retained). Regardless, what a cool exercise!

2 a { 05.28.17 at 8:43 am }

It’s lovely that you all can share these special moments.

3 Jodi { 05.28.17 at 8:55 am }

Their date is your date? That so fun! Michael’s is next year as well. We haven’t done much except some of the party planning. He starts tutoring in the fall.

4 torthuil { 05.28.17 at 10:15 am }

How exciting! I didn’t grow up with traditional or religious milestone ceremonies, and I do wonder at times if I missed out. I’m not sorry to skip the extra stress or attention (don’t really like a fuss made over me) what a special profound time to spend with your children. I hope you share more about the process as you work through it.

5 Jill A. { 05.28.17 at 3:47 pm }

30 years from now, you won’t be watching your children prepare their children. You will be watching your children prepare your grandchildren and that is carries 10x the sentiment! Family history and all of history come alive as you watch the generations progress.

(That’s the dream, anyway. God willing it comes to pass or that something else wonderful happens!)

6 Lori Lavender Luz { 05.29.17 at 2:08 pm }

I love how you are prepping them. Making memories with them.

I can almost see you on that swing, learning your part.

7 Justine { 05.29.17 at 11:03 pm }

I love that you are doing this with them, helping them to find ways to let the words live in them.

I’m a little sad, I guess, that we don’t really have any religious milestones. There is a Coming of Age program where teens who want to participate have to write and present their own Credo to the congregation; that’s a powerful moment. But we’ve been pretty lapsed in our church-going this year, and if that’s going to happen we need to get back into the habit. I’d like for them to be faced with a moment in which they have to articulate what they believe … I don’t think my confirmation or my First Communion did that for me in the Catholic church. It was ritual, but it was not, unfortunately, something I had to own, like the Torah passage.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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