Friday, September 16, 2011

Still Smiling...

Have you ever smiled so much that your cheeks hurt? That’s how I felt yesterday as we celebrated with Ida Kublin as she became a Bat Mitzvah at 83! I just could not stop smiling and I think it was contagious! In attendance were her children and grandchildren, family and friends. We all came together to witness an important moment in Ida’s life and it became an important moment in the lives of all of us who were present. For months Ida and I had studied her Torah portion together, debating whether she would use the Sephardic or Ashkenazic pronunciation of the Hebrew text before her. As we studied, she shared stories of her youth with me and how she excelled in Hebrew school, but never had the chance to become a Bat Mitzvah. After months of studying and years of imagining what it might be like to read from the Torah, the day had finally arrived and she knew that her parents of blessed memory would be so very proud.

When we first met, I learned that she had wanted to celebrate this special Bat Mitzvah close to her birthday and together we chose the date not paying attention at the time to this week’s Torah portion, but rather to the availability at the temple and the upcoming Holy Days. Little did we know, that we picked the perfect day.

There is a saying that you get the Torah portion that you were meant to get, and that was so true in Ida’s case. When I initially picked the verses that she would read, I knew it would fit because it spoke about food, and I knew that Ida and her beloved Abe of blessed memory used to have a deli, but I had no idea at the time that the verses I had chosen for her to read, would actually be a wonderful statement of her theology, her philosophy and her practice.

Ida is proud to say that she believes in bashert, it was meant to be, and this match of Ida and her Torah portion was indeed bashert. She spoke beautifully about the importance of family and as she spoke those words, I looked out into the congregation and amid the tears of joy were the smiles on the faces of her family members and friends. She spoke about her belief in God and gave profound thanks to God, and I proclaimed yesterday to be Thanksgiving Day, as we were all grateful to witness this RIGHT of passage. Young women of her generation did not celebrate the rite of passage we know as Bat Mitzvah, and yesterday as she received the Torah from the generations of her family who have followed her, the Torah was in Ida’s loving arms, reclaiming it as her own. Seeing her pure love of life, family and God was captivating. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house.

Ida’s last verse of Torah was perhaps the most fitting as it reads: Baruch ata b’tzetecha u’varuch ata b’voecha. Blessed shall you be in your comings and blessed shall you be in your goings. (Dt. 28:6). It was when we studied this verse together that Ida revealed to me that whenever someone in her family goes on a trip it has long been her practice to say, “Go well and come well”, words right out of her portion. Truly Ida got the Torah portion that was meant for her, and she is indeed a blessing to us all.

No comments:

Post a Comment