Summer Bookends

Our granddaughter Sophia reading from the Torah at her bat mitzvah as her parents Jodi and Adam look on.

Since I wrote my last blog post two months ago, it’s been an eventful family summer for Sandra and me — and for our kids and grandkids. It kicked off, as summers in the U.S. traditionally do, at the end of May, on Memorial Day weekend, with the wedding of our daughter Naomi in Ann Arbor, Michigan. And it ended with the bat mitzvah* of our granddaughter Sophia in Kensington, Maryland (just outside Washington, D.C.), the weekend of August 27-28, one week shy of Labor Day.

The wedding and bat mitzvah were fabulous bookends to our summer.

Unlike the bar mitzvah of Sophia’s brother Jonah in May 2020, which had to take place at home and be “broadcast” to family and friends via Zoom “thanks to” COVID, we and the rest of our family felt enabled by our vaccinations, boosters and masks to attend Sophia’s celebration in person at their family synagogue.

 

Mom and Dad give their blessings to Sophia …

… and hugs

And, as can be seen from the photos below, it was quite a celebration, with Adam and Jodi — Sophia and Jonah’s justifiably proud parents — pulling out all the stops.

After the Torah readings, Sophia and her brother Jonah prepare to return the synagogue’s two Torah scrolls to the ark. Their aunts Naomi (left) and Melissa then shut the ark doors. The Hebrew letters on the curtain spell the word hallelujah.

Taking advantage of our presence in Washington, Sandra and I spent a little more time after the bat mitzvah to hop in a rental car and go see friends and family in the New York area — people we hadn’t managed to visit and had greatly missed for three years or thereabouts.

The only fly in the ointment of this trip was that in my last few days “back east,” I somehow picked up the COVID bug and brought the plague home to “share” with Sandra (who had flown back to California a week or so before me to help out with our daughter Melissa and granddaughter Amarie — what we call “grandma duty”).

It took each of us about two weeks to recover. Luckily, neither of us got severely ill. It affected us both like bad colds whose main symptoms were respiratory congestion and major fatigue. We’re both feeling better now — we’ve each tested negative for the COVID bug — but the fatigue has yet to entirely dissipate.

To turn back now to something much more fun than COVID, here is my pick of the zillion (at least) photos of the bat mitzvah and the party that followed. Most of them were taken by friends, family and the professional photographer whom Adam and Jodi had asked to chronicle the bat mitzvah and gala celebration that followed.

***

* In Jewish tradition, the bar mitzvah takes place when a boy reaches 13 years of age. It marks his initiation into adulthood — presumably because centuries ago, when this tradition was born and lifespans were short, puberty marked the beginning of adult responsibilities. The bat mitvah (the rite of passage for young women, which has come to be practiced only in modern times) generally takes place at age 12, presumably because girls mature earlier.

The heart of the bar and bat mitzvah ceremony is for the young person to be called for a reading of part of that day’s portion of the Torah — the Hebrew Bible — which Orthodox Jews read in its entirely over the course of a year. In many, if not most, cases, the bar mitzvah boy or bat mitzvah girl is expected only to say the blessing that accompanies the recitation of each portion of the Torah being read that day. The actual chanting of the words carefully hand-inscribed on the Torah scroll’s parchment is usually done by someone trained in this special art. Both Sophia and Jonah, respectively, had learned to chant from the Torah itself, a considerable accomplishment for each of them. I’m certainly no expert in this area, but the consensus of people more learned than I was that both Sophia and Jonah (two years previously) did themselves proud. And that makes this grandpa very proud of them both. Mazel tov! (Congratulations or, literally, Good Luck!)

Now, the rest of the photos:

I begin with family …

Sandra and I with all four Jodams (Jodi and Adam’s moniker for their family)

Jodi, Adam, Sophia and Jonah

All five grandparents join with the Jodam gang. Mel & Ellie Goldstein (Jodi’s parents) at right in the top two rows; Martha Daniel at left in the middle row.

Sandra and I with the Jodams

Sandra and I with Sophia and Jonah

Mom and Dad giving Sophia a hug

No caption needed

No caption needed here either

Three generations of Daniel guys

Our five grandchildren. From left, Amarie, Sophia, Jonah, Lucas, Nathan. Wish we could see them all together a lot more often!

Granddaughters Amarie and Sophia

Jodam with their sibs, kids, niece and nephews. From left: Melissa, Amarie, Kerri (Jodi’s sister), Chris (Kerri’s husband), Jonah, Jodi, Sophia, Adam, Naomi, Lucas and Nathan.

Adam and his sister Naomi

Adam, Chris and Jonah hoist the girl of the hour into the air!

Now a few photos from the gala celebration in a tent erected in Jodi and Adam’s back yard:

But first, Sophia in the front yard, appropriately decorated

Before the gala gets started, a little “39th birthday” celebration for our kids and me, all of whom have August b’days (except Adam, who, having missed August by just one day, is an honorary member of the club).

Entertainment included shooting hoops. Here, Jonah competes with Mel, a college varsity hoopster from way back.

Cousins!

Amarie with Aunt Jodi

Amarie with her mom

Lucas

Nathan

Sandra, beginning to fade out

Sophia and Jonah are NOT gonna fade out!

Looks like Sandra and I are finally ready to call it a day! (Spoon in shirt pocket is a trick I learned at a Harvard dining hall when visiting a friend there more years ago than I can count.)

Finally, a few shots from some of the friends and family we visited while we were on the East Coast:

Well, here’s what we looked like that morning!

A day or two before the bat mitzvah, I got together with three high school friends, “the Bethesda Boys.” From left, Steve Klitzman, Arlee Reno, Jerry Spechler.

About to enjoy a seafood dinner on Long Island’s north shore with cousins Trude and Moshe Aroch.

Sandra and Trude enjoying a moment!

Sandra on the fire escape just off the balcony of Guy and Anna’s Manhattan penthouse. Guy is Trude and Moshe’s son.

That’s me, keeping an eye on the goodies in Guy and Anna’s kitchen.

Sandra with Rayelle, one of our youngest “cousins by the dozens.” Wish I’d had the presence of mind to take more photos of all the other friends and family we visited!

 

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