Saturday, September 19, 2009

Shana Tova

Here are the reasons it may actually be a good idea to have your oldest son's bar mitzvah on Shabbat Shuvah, one of the holiest days of the year and the Shabbat that is sandwiched between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. This is the ten-day period known as the Days of Awe and as the Chabad website,, and my other go-to-Jew source, Judaism for Dummies, just informed me, it is a most auspicious time to rectify the failings and missed opportunities of the past and positively influence the coming year. With that in mind, here are the reasons you might consider scheduling your child's bar mitzvah smack in the middle of the High Holy Days, back-to-school madness and the beginning of football season:

1) You can go to Temple with your whole family on a Saturday morning a full week ahead of time, sneak in late, sit in the way back, and after making it through the two and half-hour Rosh Hashanah service, you can turn to your youngest son, who is almost 9, has been begging to play with your phone and fidgeting like mad , and say, "See, if you can sit through that, you can definitely sit through your brother's service." To which your younger son replies, "Of course I'll be able to sit through his service. I'll be sitting up front!" Shame, shame.

2) You can wear a grey T-shirt dress, with a heavy black velvet blazer over it, and because the Temple's air conditioning is blasting away, sit there and shiver, and know that it's going to be pretty friggin' cold in the sanctuary next weekend, and the short-sleeved dress you bought back in July just isn't going to cut it without a jacket or a pretty black shawl, neither of which you own or have time to shop for.

3) You can stand on a very long line to kiss the Rabbis and the Cantor hello and know exactly what it going to be like to stand on a very long line in high heels in Temple and kiss people hello.

4) You can observe/complain/whine to to one of your friends who went through her oldest son's bar mitzvah back in June, that you will be in Temple six out of the next eleven days, and she will just smile in sympathy and say something encouraging like, "Oh, God."

5) You can buy your first pair of Spanx pantyhose from the nice ladies at Footnotes, admire your artificially flattened stomach and shrunken butt in your mirror at home, march off to synagogue, take your seat in the pew and sit there for a long time, far too aware of your bladder, your lungs and the various other organs the Spanx is compressing in your stomach, struggle to breathe, stand up feeling as if a balloon has been inflated near your vital organs, and conclude that in fact you will not be wearing a pair of Spanx on the day your older son becomes a man, and that you'd better find time for at least three Bar Method classes between now and the big day, even though you have to teach two days this week and it's a new job that doesn't leave much time for extra-exercise.

5) You and your husband will cry and beam during your son's coming-of-age ceremony Saturday morning, dance and laugh at his party that afternoon, feed him and his camp friends pizza Saturday evening, beg a bunch of 13-year old boys not to stay up all night watching inappropriate movies in the basement, serve the neighbors and out-of-towners bagels, lox and coffee Sunday morning...and after everyone leaves, you and your family will collapse into a heap and stare at the TV---only to rouse yourself a couple of hours later so you can eat a huge dinner with one of your closest friends and return to Temple for Kol Nidre Sunday night. The next morning you will wake up and it will be Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, and you will sit in Temple, fasting and hungry but relieved and grateful that your oldest son is now officially a man. You will confess your sins, you will pray for peace, and you will promise to be less of a bitch when you're tired, when deep in your frozen little heart, you just want to sneak off, eat a box of chocolates and get a massage on the day of Atonement.

6) You will make sure that your younger son's bar mitzvah is scheduled closer to Thanksgiving than Labor Day.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year, everyone. L'shana tovah.

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