By lex, Sun – August 1, 2004
Bryan’s Bar Mitzvah, that is.
Actually, I’m fairly certain that’s not how I should describe it, but my Irish was up, and it truly was a good time.
(Lots o’ pics for the dial-up set)
I just wanted to capture a few thoughts before the sands of time and the vicissitudes of doddering age wash them away. I’ll try to avoid any hint of anthropologizing the Interesting People With Such Very Different Customs that this effort risks, however well-meaning it might otherwise be.
The temple ceremony was fascinating, in mixed English and Hebrew – between the language and the rite there were whispering echoes I felt I should almost comprehend, if only I turned my head just the right way, if only I could catch the cadence of the words. Although no doubt far different than Jerusalem worship 2000 years ago, I had the sense that this would have been a far more familiar environment to my Guy than His church is today.
There was a security guard in the parking lot – I took this in quietly, to turn over and examine later in more detail. Before the temple entrance was the simulacrum of an antique gate – a copy from a temple in old Europe that was.
One of the Torah’s in the temple’s possession had belonged to this 16th century temple. It had been seized and archived by the Nazis for a historical display once their Final Solution had been fully realized. Liberated after the war, it made its way to Carmel Valley, California – becoming yet another unlikely survivor of the Holocaust.
Perhaps I was overcome by the atmosphere because I had my very own miniature Annie Jacobsen moment once inside: A shadow passed outside the window – a large, swarthy man, heavily mustachioed, flitted by the glass. My eyes narrowed for a moment. As he passed by the next window, I saw him for what he evidently was – a Hispanic maintenance worker. Whether my flickering suspicions were prudent in the moment, or merely the workings of an over-active imagination I leave to the reader, with this caveat: I do not think they would have occurred to me, if this vignette had presented itself outside my church.
After a beautiful ceremony, in which a sense of family, tradition and community were as much a part of the atmosphere as the air we breathed, we went to a reception right next door to the temple.
Food, fine company, even dancing – the Biscuit had a blast, events from this point on were tailor-made to her enjoyment.
Even your humble scribe managed to lever his bulk away from the table for bit of that ol’ rug cutting, with his favorite dance partner. No, there will be no pictures of that. But I will show one of the Kat’s dedication to line dancing – the casual observer would have thought precision to be a matter of great import in this exercise.
Our neighbor at the table had come with his family from Israel for the Bar Mitzvah – he’s one of the folks I took around on the Reagan last week. Really enjoyed that visit, was enjoying being off the grid for a time over here – at home, he said, he felt compelled to be on top of the news at all times, always in communication with his family and friends – here he could unplug for a bit.
Life during wartime, I guess.
His daughter went to one of our local malls, and was surprised that each open air place she visited, every crowded store, had something missing: Armed security guards.
SNO, myself and the Kat ran out of gas far sooner than the Hobbit and the Biscuit, who bore the burden of the family honor well after we had made our grateful exit, well fed, well satisfied, well ready for the comfort of our own places of rest.
The last I saw of the Hobbit, heading out the door?
A good craic.