Today at the Bar Mitzvah

The last time I was in Indiana to see my sister, it was September 2001. Now, I’m back for my nephew Forrest’s bar mitzvah. Deb and I haven’t traveled for one of these in ages and we couldn’t miss it. Family was coming from Georgia, Florida, New York and Connecticut which thrilled Judy no end.

Our trip Friday should have been routine. We got to White Plains, flew on time to Chicago and were there with time to spare before the connecting flight to Indianapolis. I even had time to write some of Iron Man.

The flight boarded on time but after taxiing for a bit, we were informed that there was a computer malfunction and they were going to fix it back at the gate. Once we arrived, it turned out to be more complicated so we had to change equipment. So we disembarked and waited. And waited. Finally, we boarded the new plane, flew the 26 minutes west and landed. We arrived three hours late. There was still time to get the rental car and make it for Friday night services. Except for the accident on I-465. Deb said if we got off at 86th Street we could cut over on the back streets. So I got off and we then crawled seven miles over the next 75 minutes.

We therefore, missed services but got to the hotel in time to unpack and freshen up before everyone returned for the “light deli” dinner being hosted. We finally got to see family and enjoy one another’s company. At the end, Judy informed me I needed to be at temple at 9 for a 10:30 service because they need that long for pictures. Sigh.

After dressing, I ran to the lobby for coffee, did some work (being off line for a day makes me twitch, just ask Deb) and then headed to temple. We posed for pictures and were done by 9:45 so had time to kill. At 10, we visited the Rabbi in his office for what amounted to a rehearsal.

In the Jewish tradition, honored members of the family come up to the altar and say a prayer before a portion of the Torah is read. This was to be my first such experience and was saying it with Mom and Neil. Judy sent out the prayer transliterated a few weeks back and I knew most of it from sitting and hearing other bar mitzvahs these last few years. I was fairly relaxed about it but Mom and Neil were stressing for weeks. We rehearsed a few times and everyone felt better.

The service is fine. Forrest hesitates here and there but overall, does a terrific job. We all stand with him and parade through the congregation as the Torah is displayed. Then the readings begin. Marcy and David, from his father’s side, go first and do well. We go next and do the first part fine. Forrest reads then we have a short bit at the end.

I read from the wrong paragraph.

Mom and Neil get flummoxed and Neil goes off to the side to collect himself, I’m laughing like a loon and the Rabbi kindly says, “Let’s start that again.” We get through it and I hear the Rabbi said, “You did that to make Forrest look really good.” Sure. I’ll accept that.
The remainder of the service went without incident. Much of the family went off for a long lunch to catch up and then back to the hotel so the diehards could watch college football. Tonight’s the big party and boy, do I look forward to just celebrating.

2 comments

  • Beth Goodwin

    At my bat mitzvah, I had memorized my portion and no longer looked at the page. I was sailing along until the Rabbi interrupted me to rebless the Torah. I then had no idea where I was and stood their silently for what seemed like an eternity until he prompted me and I continued on my way. That was 27 years ago and I remember it like now. The pure terror… Ah memories…

  • Reminds me of when I missed my brother’s wedding–so close! Glad you got there for the rest of it.

    (We lived for a year in West Lafayette IN…)

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