This was very exciting! A month(ish) ago, my friend Amy invited me to her daughter’s Jewish naming ceremony. It was super small, with mostly just family and one or two friends there (along with a few members of her congregation). Of course I wanted to be there for her and Charlotte and Brian and the rest of her family, but I was also curious about the ceremony itself… organized religion has fascinated me since….well, forever!
This wasn’t the same thing as a Baptism like you’d find in Christianity. That deals more with washing away the original sin that we’re all seemingly born with. Instead this was sort of a birth announcement – “Hey! We had a baby! And we want the congregation to meet her! And we’re going to raise her in the Jewish faith!” It’s also a way to honor past family members. Catholics must wait until their confirmation to pick a Saint’s name that will become “their name” in the Church, but the naming ceremony in the Jewish faith gives the new baby past family members’ names. Charlotte’s name in the synagogue is Leah Miriam, Leah (Hebrew for Lena), from Amy’s grandmother’s mother and Miriam (Hebrew for Mary), from her grandfather’s mother.
The ceremony started at 9:30, and the Rabbi explained (afterwards) that this part of the service was a warm-up for the “major prayers” that came later, sort of like how you had to warm your car up in the winter. The service really started at around 10:15, when they took out the Torah and started reading from it. For the naming ceremony, the first prayer (called an Aliyah) has to be done by a member of the Cohen tribe (there were a bunch of tribes in Israel…I think 12?!). Amy’s family is from the Levi tribe, so they had to ask a member of the congregation (who was from the Cohen tribe) to fill in and do the first prayer. Afterwards, she had her cousins fill in to do the other prayers. The service was over around 12:30.
The ceremony itself was awesome to be a part of. I didn’t understand most things that were happening, but what did capture my attention was how musical the ceremony was. Catholic services were originally all chanted/sung, but are now just spoken. Most of the prayers yesterday were sung (albeit in harmonic minor), but sung nonetheless. There were actually a few times when the Rabbi was pounding his hands on his table to go along with the rhythm! I caught myself swaying more than once.
Afterwards, we all went into a little room next to the place where the ceremony took place and ate a Kiddush lunch. There were a few different types of herring, some tuna salad, challah, and what I thought was that pink marshmallow-y stuff (ambrosia?!) but turned out to be cream cheese with lox in it!!!! (Like, one of my favorite things in the world!!). I also got to try Rugelach, which is a pastry stuffed with chocolate and DELICIOUS!!!!
I wasn’t allowed to take pictures in the building because it was the Sabbath and electronics couldn’t be used. I was able to get this picture snapped with the lady of the hour after she had been strapped into the car:
She was a bit cranky….she was sleepy and hungry!!! (Don’t worry girl, I know what that feels like….)
Overall, it was awesome! Got to see a little theology in action, eat some awesome food, and see a good pal be a great mom. The only awkwardness came when the Rabbi came up when I started to get into the food line and said “Shalom Shabbat!” and I answered with “Shabbat!”
I’m such an idiot.
Other notable firsts:
* I had never seen sunblock with SPF 100. My father has two tubes in his car for when he goes golfing. Irish much?!
* I had never been so enlightened by a 7th grade student on puberty:
* I had never gone to the Red House in Deep River before. My cooperating teacher took me out this past Thursday to thank me for all of the curriculum that I wrote/re-wrote. It was delicious and it was super fun meeting his wife and 5-year old daughter.
*I hadn’t sat outside in a bikini in the year 2014! Summer made a breakthrough today!! Hooray!!!