Monday, January 31, 2005

A price far above rubies...

Monday morning - nearly lunchtime. Had a wonderful time yesterday. Met up with HW for lunch. Her little boy is the mirror image of Scrappino. Scrappino is quiet and reserved and her little one is loud and confident. And since opposites attract they got on like a house on fire. We took them to Highgate woods for a walk. HW's little one hit a tree. She told him to stop because the tree was crying. I told her she was a mad bloody hippy. She agreed.

Later I went to a bat-mitzva party. It's a bit like a bar-mitzva. Only for a girl. The main difference is that at a bar mitzva party there are always hundreds of 13 year old boys looking ridiculous in suits that are 2 sizes too big. It usually resembles a Bugsy Malone theme party. A bat mitzva is an altogether more grown up affair. Although it's still a fairly new phenomenon. When I had my bat-mitzva (some time back in the eighties) there were four of us lumped together and we had afternoon tea catered by the ladies guild in the shul hall. The ceremony constituted a painful recitation of Eshes Chayil (definitely Eshes - never Eshet) and we each read a couple of poems about famous jewish women from the bible. (We had one each and there were just enough to go round.)

In preparation for the big day we spent a year learning about Being a Jewish Woman. This, in a nutshell, consists of the following:
1. How to kosher liver. Liver has been sold ready-koshered for over 40 years. Despite this, we spent 3 consecutive sundays (and remember, I was 12 at the time!) learning about salting meat and leaving it for an hour. In a bucket. Or was it a tray? No, it was definitely a bucket. I think there might have been two buckets but I forget what the second one was for.
2. Plaiting challah. It's a bit like plaiting your hair. Only you end up with quite sticky hands. But the house smells lovely for hours. Trouble is, you can never make challa as nice as the kosher bakery. But nobody has the heart to tell you. I think that's why we started having hummous on the challah. So you wouldn't quite taste it.
3. Sew a challah cover. Challah covers are cheaply and readily available in all good Jewish book shops in a wide variety of colours and designs. Yet somehow it was deemed appropriate to force us to produce a challah cover in time for the bat mitzva party. (I don't recall the boys having to build a bima in a parallel woodwork class in preparation for their bar mitzva.) We had no training in embroidery, little talent and even less interest. But hey, overlooking talent and championing a lack of interest is all part and parcel of the Jewish Woman's Experience.

Not for the Bat mitzva girl yesterday. No koshering liver for her. She was joyously welcomed into the community as an equal adult in her own right in a ceremony perfectly suited to her talents, interests and ambitions. Of course, this was only to be expected. Many of the women who champion the cause of the bat mitzva celebration are those who fall into the category that some call the 'hemp skirt and sandals' brigade. The kind of woman who looks forward to childbirth as a validation of her place in the world and spends the nine months of pregnancy looking up recipes for placenta. But I did think in the car on the way home, "so what if they want the bat mitzva girl to eat her own placenta. At least they're not expecting her to kasher it"


Blogger bangedmyhead said...

keep them coming...
had a great laugh

5:34 pm  

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