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I write, mostly to keep my head from exploding. It threatens to do that a lot. My blog is the pixelated version of all the voices in my head. I tend to dive into what connects me to God, my community, my family and my doubt. I do a lot of searching, not as much finding. I’m good with that. I have learned, finally, to live comfortably in the gray. In the meantime, I wrestle with God, and my doubt and my joy.

Monday, July 9, 2012

From Generation to Generation

Just a few weeks ago, Nate and I were in Rosenblum’s Bookstore, ordering kippot for his Bar Mitzvah-- those omnipresent black suede head coverings, imprinted with his name (in both Hebrew and English) and the date, to be given away at the service-- and on impulse, I asked him to pick out a yad (a pointer to use while reading from the Torah).  He walked over to the case and carefully inspected the array displayed there, and then said “Mom, I want to be able to pass this down to my children.”  

Here's a surprise-- my eyes instantly welled with tears. But my primary thought was "He's getting it."  All the years of talking and teaching and trying to live what's important, and he was getting it: family and connection, from one generation to the next, stretching out to forever in every direction, what was and what will be.  We are a part of it all, the center of it, the border of it, a link in a chain as fragile as memory, as strong as thought.  

So my beloved boy steps into the whole messy, vibrant, jumbly mix, with his own offering: a yad.  It is small and delicate, gold wire wound around a garnet sheath, ending in a hand poised to guide him (and all who will follow) through Torah, that whole messy, vibrant, jumbly and beautiful gift that generation after generation have studied and chanted and struggled with and wept over.  All the love, all the questions, all the doubt, focused at the end of that small and delicate yad.
As he creates a new tradition with that beautiful yad, we practiced an older tradition on the day of his bar mitzvah: I presented him with my grandfather’s tallit. My grandfather wore it as he prayed, and as a cohan, he wore it as he blessed his congregation with the priestly benediction. My father, in turn, gave it to me.  It was the first tallit that I wore, and now I’ve passed it to Nate, l’dor vador –from generation to generation. It is my hope that he will feel the blessings and love of all the generations who have worn it before him.

And so he stands, poised himself, right there, at the entrance-- to adulthood, to community, to his Judaism, to the adventure of his life.  It all waits for him, waits for him to step through

In honor this day, I also composed a series of poems to introduce each section of the service. The poem that follows, The Gate, can be just as much about how we all wait to step through, to enter, to begin as it is about how we gather together to pray.

I hope you enjoy this.  I hope we will meet all together at the gate one day soon.
The Gate
We start, as we always do, standing at the gate.
It’s a good place to wait,
This gate.
It is the entrance to our service,
to a holy place
and a sacred community.
As we step through,
We step outside of
and into Time.
We come together
to celebrate
with friends and family,
with strangers and loved ones,
with song and prayer,
words and silence.
As it happens every Shabbat morning,
We start at the gate.
We start with mystery and wonder,
If we allow it.
We welcome small miracles
And stretch our souls
Outwards and
And meet one another at the gate
This gate
This holy gate
And we enter