Sunday, January 07, 2007

Simchat Bat

On Friday night we welcomed Ahuva Yonit into our tribe at the Moriah Synagogue. It was a stormy night and many people were unable to make it but we were thrilled by everyone who did manage to come. It was lovely.
Regular kabbalat shabbat services were given an extra boost of ruach, of spirit, by the presence of some thirty teenaged scouts attending a shabbaton at the shul. Together with our guests, we filled the cozy space. We hadn't really discussed or planned the ceremony in detail with the rabbi, but we couldn't have been more pleased if we had. During lecha dodi, a prayer which welcomes the sabbath queen, the rabbi signaled for me and Adi to take Ahuva back behind the congregation. I pried her out of her Bubbe's loving arms and we walked back where four cute young scouts were holding the four poles of a chuppa formed with a talit. Our little family stood under the shelter of the chuppa, much as Adi and I had stood at our own wedding back in March. One of the young scouts was quite short and Adi had to nudge him to hold his pole higher.
At the end of the prayer, the entire congregation rises and turns to face the door to welcome in the sabbath queen. Today, our Ahuva Yonit was symbolizing the sabbath queen! We then walked slowly and with great pride to the front of the congregation, escorted by our trusty scouts. The rabbi said a few words of blessing and mentioned that in the bible, it is Joseph's blessing for his sons, for the children, which is most significant. He also recalled how I had sent my parents racing from the hospital to the shul just seconds after delivering her on Thursday the 21st so that they could announce her name for the first time during an aliya at the sefer torah. Until that moment, Adi and I had successfully guarded the secret of her name as tightly as an envelope at the academy awards. I hadn't even written it down yet and had to scrawl it on a post-it, my hands unsteady, with Ahuva on my chest for the first time. I told the rabbi and the congregation that the idea of shaharit services at 8:30 had motivated me to get her out on time. There was a huge clock facing me in the delivery room and I kept hoping we'd make it on time.
The rabbi then asked the families to rise. Our parents, Ahuva's grandparents, were all seated in the front center row. On one side, Adi's aunt Noga, Uncle Israel, and cousin Tal rose. Together we said the shehechianu, the blessing thanking God for sustaining us to reach this moment.
Adi then read the text he prepared about Ahuva, explaining how his beloved grandmother inspired him to love the Hebrew language and pursuit of knowledge and that these were qualities we hoped for our Ahuva. I read the text I prepared on Yonit, the name chosen by my friend Janis Coulter. I expressed the hope that like Janis, our Ahuva Yonit would actively choose to live her life as a Jew, that she would be respectful of others, and that she would overcome adversity. (Full texts in the previous blog entry).
We returned to our seats until the end of services. After services, we gave our daughter the traditional blessing for daughters after the kiddush, that she may be like our foremothers. One and all then enjoyed the appetizers my parents ordered. There were salads, vegetables, cookies, fruits, and because she is a girl, strawberries! We had a few moments to visit with our friends and Ahuva's admirers. Ahuva collected some wonderful gifts, including a used stroller in excellent condition.
"It's like you're giving us a car!" I told Maggie, sincerely moved by this gift. A high school friend of Adi's showed up and even brought an adorable outfit. Friends of mine came all the way from their home north of Karmiel, and another dear family of friends who happened to be here from France were able to attend.
Ahuva Yonit, by the way, slept peacefully during the entire event! She only woke to be changed and fed when we got to her grandparents' house for dinner.

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