Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Bar Mitzvah File

Sometimes we do things and we only reflect on their significance long after the event is over. Sometimes, however, I find just the opposite to be true – and I see the significance of an action before it is even taken.

I’ll explain.

Last night, I created a new folder for our filing cabinet. “Wow, Romi,” you might be thinking. “That’s the best you could come up with for a blog post today?”

But the file is entitled “Bar Mitzvah File.”

And as I filled out the words and stuck the very first piece of paper into the file (invitations that we won from the Orot Etzion Chinese Auction for the bar mitzvah! How fun!), I realized that I was taking a significant action.

Looking at the words I'd just written, I pictured the many times that I will retrieve this file; how it will fill and empty, fill and empty with ideas, plans and designs.

I thought about the moment, 11 years from now, when I take it out for the last time, dust it off, and get ready to organize that final bar mitzvah. And then I thought about the moment, in 12 years, or so, when I will look at those words “Bar Mitzvah File” and think back to six lovely affairs (Gd willing) and all of the memories they’ll entail. Perhaps by then we will already have a "Wedding File" sitting next to this one in the filing cabinet.

For now, it’s just a plain file folder housing one small piece of paper.

It’s a strange feeling, sitting on this side of events, to understand before they happen just how significant that file will become, how many times it will be used, and how many memories it will help us to create.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Hevron and the NBA

Today was one of those days that I just love in Israel. Last week, the older boys came to me to ask if they could get up at 4:00 in the morning for a few days to see some basketball game.

“Um, what?” I replied.

“No, really.” They said and then tried to explain to me what it was that they wanted to do.

This was one of those situations where I said, “I don’t understand what language you’re speaking. You’ll have to talk to Daddy.”

And talk they did; and stay up they have.

See (as you’ve probably figured out), it’s the NBA finals, and somehow my kids got wind of it (I have no idea how) and decided that they simply had to watch it. Cute if you live in Washington D.C., Los Angeles or Denver. Less cute if you live in Israel, a seven hour time difference from the event.

And so, they’ve now gotten up twice at 4:00 in the morning to watch the NBA finals. And their awesome (slightly insane?) Daddy has been leading the charge.

And one of the things that I love in Israel is the dichotomy of secular activities and religious activities in our lives.

Because after we got those kids off to school, we turned around and drove to Hevron with Amichai for his Mesibat Beresheit.

Finishing first grade, Amichai and his entire class have finished reading one fifth of the entire Torah. They’ve read every word in the book of Beresheit (Genesis) and have discussed the themes, ideas and lessons therein.

Among many, there was one particularly moving moment when they held a huge Tallit (ritual prayer shawl) over the heads of all of the boys (the girls had their ceremony last week) and gave them a bracha (blessing) that they should continue their learning and their intellectual growth for years to come.

And where did their celebration take place? In Hevron. Hevron is considered one of the two or three most important Holy sites to the Jewish people. It’s where Avraham Aveinu purchased the Maarah (Cave) to bury his beloved wife, Sara. It has been an essential and beloved location for Jews for thousands of years, and it is where most of our forefathers and mothers are buried from Sara and Avraham to Yitzhak and Yaakov.

And there we were, for a party that could have taken place in the school gym in Washington, NY or London, as so many do, celebrating the amazing work of these first grade children at one of our absolutely holiest locations.

And that is the juxtaposition that I love. NBA basketball at sunrise; Cave of the Patriarchs in Hevron at mid-day.

Can’t get much better than that for a Friday morning in Israel