The 40 Year Old Bat Mitzvah

Weekend in Pictures: The Goods

Posted in Uncategorized by Juliet on December 20, 2010

Each of us was presented with a siddur (prayerbook) personalized with our name and the B’nai Mitzvah date:

Belinda Singer was a member of our B’nai Mitzvah class for several months, before her life got really crazy busy and she had to stop. She teaches the 7th graders and one of her duties for the kids’ B’nai Mitzvahs is to present them with “brown bags” — small gifts personal to each student reflecting something about them. For us, Belinda handmade these amazing slate wall hangings engraved with the Shema:

As a kiddush cup, I use a sherry glass from a set that belonged to my great-grandma, Grandma Eva. She bought these one at a time with green stamps. They aren’t “valuable” but they are precious to me.

I think of “depression glass” as being green, but I believe this cranberry colored style of glass was also popular at the same time. (Grandma Eva’s are from 1920s LA.) Here is a display of similar glass at the Gibson Girl ice cream parlor on Main Street at Disneyland:


This Ain’t Over

Posted in Uncategorized by Juliet on December 19, 2010

(L-R) Louis, me, Lorraine, Sybil

It’s not an ending, it’s a beginning…

I am normally better about pictures but the day went by SO FAST! I actually found myself coming to the last few words of my Torah portion and regretting that it was almost over.

I was still feeling iffy about my Hebrew skills and I figured the only way I could accomplish helping to lead an entire Saturday morning service is to be very in the moment. I was fully involved and engaged with each prayer, song, or blessing, as it was happening. No peeking ahead to what’s to come. No mental checklists for what is happening five minutes from now. Five seconds from now was the only advance thinking I allowed.

It worked. I really enjoyed the entire day. The service was a lot of fun. Lunch was a wonderful chance to catch up with friends and family.

When I try to remember the entire day, what I get instead is random images floating through my mind’s eye: Cantor Lori and Rabbi David looking proud as we each finished our Torah portions; Belinda’s eyes welling with tears as she handed us our brown-bag gifts, which she carved herself; Jane’s stage-whisper during a very quiet moment: “What is that man doing, anyway?”; Elliott’s amazing Adon Olam (he is only 16 and should definitely head to Hollywood, or cantorial school); the surprise moment of drinking from my kiddush cup (a sherry glass from my great-grandmother Grandma Eva’s set) and realizing that unlike last night, when we sang the full kiddush and drank from these same glasses and they used grape juice, today they used actual wine; Gary Glitter and the Rocky theme playing during lunch because I couldn’t figure out my itunes playlists so just used my workout music; ganache icing on cupcakes.

The most moving part of the day for me was receiving a blessing at the ark from Rabbi David and Cantor Lori. Rabbi David said each of the priestly blessings in Hebrew and Cantor Lori sang them in English. These are blessings many of us have heard over the years (“May the Lord bless you and keep you….” etc) and they can seem corny in the abstract but at the moment of being blessed, I really did feel blessed. Later that day, after lunch, Rabbi Barry also gave me a blessing. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

I didn’t take enough pictures of the winery where we had the lunch afterward. Gershon Bachus is a beautiful small winery on the De Portola Wine Trail in Temecula’s wine country.

I not only went home with all of the leftover Sweet Layers desserts, but I also am excited to have some GBV wine in the trunk of my car. Awesome! Chef Adrian Halmagean of Sorrel Bistro in Temecula did the food.

Of course the only thing I took pictures of was the Trader Joe’s rose pot centerpieces. I really wanted a picture of the meal and the dessert table, but I was distracted.

The day was blustery. Go figure that Temecula actually gets winter weather for once during December.

The Wardrobe Situation

Posted in Uncategorized by Juliet on December 18, 2010

I put some decent thought into what to wear for the Saturday morning service and lunch, but when Friday afternoon rolled around, I realized I hadn’t set aside anything to wear for Friday night’s kaballat shabbat (“welcoming the sabbath”) service.

I ended up wearing this green silk Talbot’s sheath dress. I recently got rid of a bunch of clothes from my former working life, but held onto this because I love the color. It has a matching long-sleeved loose jacket with single button.  You can’t tell from the angle of this picture but I am wearing my blue and  black beaded kippah (head covering.)  I ended up using a tortoiseshell clip to get my hair off my face, too.  My hair had a lot of things going on last night.

When I wear it with pearls I feel like Michelle Obama.

Dressing is easy for men. Scott just wore what he wore to work:

The girls like to dress up, but about five minutes before we had to leave, they ran into the room where I was enjoying a Salada green tea for the road. “We don’t have any shoes!”

No shoes?

No shoes!

They really have NO shoes appropriate for a religious occasion? I am sure this is wrong but it wasn’t the time to figure it out. We got home late last night so they probably still won’t have appropriate shoes today either. When you’re four and eight years old, you can get away with fashion faux pas.

Jane ended up wearing crocs:

Eva took off the sweatshirt once we were inside the sanctuary. The Kirkland (Costco) brand ugg boots stayed.

Down to the Wire

Posted in Uncategorized by Juliet on December 16, 2010

It’s almost adult B’nai Mitzvah time!  Friday night (also known as tomorrow), we’ll lead a short kabbalat shabbat (“welcoming the sabbath”) service, and Saturday morning is the Big Show.

Today, I’m having major college and law school finals flashbacks, as I waver between, “If I don’t know it by now, I’ll never know it,” and a desire to cram.

The thing about the Hebrew prayers and Torah reading is, some days, everything flows and I breeze through it effortlessly.  As the blessing at the beginning of the Torah service says, I am “immersed in the words of Torah.”  I’m in the zone.

Other days, though, I still confuse my dalets and reshes, or worse, look at a word and completely freeze.  My mind goes blank.  No zone.  In the ozone.

Rabbi Castiglione gave us a little pep talk at our final class/rehearsal last night.  “You’ve already proven yourself to everyone who matters, including YOU.  What you’re doing on Saturday is leading the service for the congregation.  Relax and enjoy it.”

What I decided to do is NOT cram.  I’m going to do my regular daily study, but I’m going to focus on doing the things that put me in the zone (or at least zone-adjacent):  sleeping enough, eating right, resting, and laying off the stress.

(I’m also figuring out importing and exporting itunes playlists for music.  We have a “dance area” not a “dance floor” but I still will have music.  I’m dropping potted rose centerpieces and finalizing seating.  I’m giving directions to people driving from various directions.  You know…..all the typical bar and bat mitvah stuff.  It’s actually kind of fun.)

Next time:  pictures!



Posted in Uncategorized by Juliet on December 4, 2010

How cool is this? Camp Ramah sent Eva a custom pack of silly bands in these shapes: baseball bat (sports), Israeli flag (Israeli dances, songs, and activities), challah (shabbat), paintbrush (chuggim, the extracurriculars), tree (hiking and sleeping under the stars), and the word “Ramah.”