The 40 Year Old Bat Mitzvah

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.


2 Responses

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  1. crystal beutler said, on January 1, 2011 at 3:35 PM

    So cool that you had a Bat Mitzvah as an adult. Is that common?? I’ve always wanted to attend one. It sounds like yours was special — maybe even more now, than it would have been if you did it when you were a youth.

    BTW, love the way you write.

  2. Juliet said, on January 2, 2011 at 9:38 AM

    Thank you, my fellow Temeculan:-) It’s not common but it’s done often enough that it does happen. Bat mitzvahs for girls weren’t that common until the past 20-30 years or so, so there are many older women who now feel like they missed out. There are also people who converted and now feel like they want to go a bigger step beyond the conversion process to a bar or bat mitzvah. There are plenty of people, men and women, who are like me and were born Jewish but for whatever reasons never did it as a kid. I loved doing it as an adult but learning Hebrew was hard. I think it’s probably easier for kids just because languages tend to get harder the older you are, and also kids are in the habit of learning because they’re in school already.

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