It is with great pride that Blanche, our first daughter, became a Bat Mitzvah. It’s a tradition that we are so proud to celebrate. We were blessed with all of our parents and siblings and their spouses present. Nieces and nephews and lots of cousins, many aunts and uncles and friends who are like family shared in our special time.
Celebrations started at breakfast on Thursday and ended with Sunday brunch. Family from Pittsburgh, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Scranton, Washington and Chicago were all on hand to be witness to this day. With recent images of Nazi flags in the news, it is not lost on me that our daughter read from the Torah. She read confidently and proudly. Our parents and siblings opened the Torah ark. Family read from the Torah, chanted prayers from the bema and offered a prayer for our nation.
Brody Chaos – Management & Cake Frosting
Leading up to the Bat Mitzvah, we weren’t too concerned about menus, food or flowers. We weren’t even in crisis mode when our Friday night restaurant went out of business three days before the dinner. We didn’t have time for that. Instead, we dealt with two cars having issues, sick parents and a home flood. With life in full swing, we decided to keep our plans and go to the beach for 10 days. My Dad was command central, for me, he would decide what information I needed to know in a great effort for me to enjoy a family vacation. More often than not, he would have great advice, and funnier jokes to mitigate situations that were never in my own control. The week leading up to the events pretty much went like this: I forgot to order a cake. I ordered a very expensive cake. I felt guilty. I ordered a replacement cake. When leaving the second bakery, I felt that I should have ordered a cake in blue and white to represent Israel as a reflection of the Bat Mitzvah, but I ordered a teal and black colored cake. While I make intellectually sound and logically important decisions, I can’t decide irrelevant issues like cake frosting colors. I called my dad and explained my process and asked for advice. Immediately he responded, “What difference does the cake color matter? It will all shit out brown.” Ta-da, I understood.
Hot Glue and Sensitivity to What’s Important
I went to the art store and bought clearance items to hot glue gun a cake topper. I found a letter B for either Blanche or Brody and hot glued it to fake flowers that reminded me of our Preakness Stakes hats. Blanche was concerned that the B was too egocentric, even though the day was about her. I felt so validated that our daughter had nailed it regarding her place in the world – she wanted the day to be about everything, not to be flashy about her. I made a mental note that this is something to celebrate, too.
It All Comes Together
We filled our vacation bucket list and made new memories while managing the home front from afar. And, a miracle happened (or rather insurance intervened) and my mom was released from the hospital the day before the Bat Mitzvah, and my in-laws were able to travel to Baltimore. The important stuff was all coming together.
I cried when my brother held my mother’s hand and they stood in front of the Torahs. My mother in law looked beautiful as if life is full of roses. Mark would have his eye on both our daughter and his father and it was emotional. My father and uncle, Mark, Leo and I were all on the bema with Blanche as she chanted her Torah portion. My father in law, sisters in laws and aunts and uncles, and the Brody Bunch kids were all seated nearby. I have a loving ex-step mother, who is so integrated in our family, she and the kids had special moments that I could hear giggles and shushing during the service. Each time someone stood or said something, there were lots of hugs and kisses.
Time stood still and each and every note was heard; yet, time had past as cousins we haven’t seen in many years all came together, just to be with us. Blanche’s day to experience something from generation to generation actually brought generations of our family together. Blanche, who is named after my Grandmother Blanche, caused older relatives to note how much I look like my beloved Grandmother Blanche. Wonderful stories about our blended families were told throughout the many meals we shared together. We laughed hard, we ate too much, we drank a lot, and we had the gift of a few perfect days. We missed some family who could not travel, and we often thought of our friends who were not with us as we purposefully made an event centered around our large family.
Bursting with Love and Pride
It is overwhelming to express my feeling about the last few days. I learned that as a strong person, I am even stronger than I think. I reaffirmed my faith in our religion that it is a good foundation for making decisions, reaffirming personal values and to be proud, especially in times of direct and overt anti-Semitism. I celebrated my family’s simcha (milestone) with our caring community and these are wonderful people who make it easy to understand why I love Baltimore and Jewish Baltimore so very much.
I am a Rich Woman
Like the lyrics in Fiddler on The Roof’s If I Were a Rich Man,
I realize, of course, that it’s no shame to be poor. But it’s no great honor either! So, what would have been so terrible if I had a small fortune?” …
Well, I am the Fiddler on the Roof, I am a Rich Woman because I have love. Processing all of the gifts: our children’s hospitality to our guests and their love for each other as heard in their speeches; my husband showing emotion throughout our journey; my parents and in-laws having such pride and happiness; our siblings, aunts, uncles, and many cousins being present. There were many moments of both sides of our families hugging each other, kissing, laughing. This is what it is all about. This is what life is really about. There is just a lot of love that surrounds me and my family … and a lot of leftover Chinese food.