Sophisticated Living Indianapolis

SEP-OCT 2018

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Jen and I recently celebrated our daughter, Gracie's, bat mitzvah. Any parent who has been through this rite of passage knows that the weeks and months leading up to the big day are fraught with all sorts of challenges. In many ways, it's comparable to organizing a wedding. As Jen and I were planning the celebration, I began to realize how different this event was going to be from my own bar mitzvah, and how much the focus has shifted over the intervening years. ese days there are DJs to book, playlists to make, dancers to corral, photo booths to find, not to mention the expense of paying for all of the above. And lest you think you've covered all your bases, don't underestimate the importance of caterers who understand proper nutrition—for 13-year-olds. is includes, but is not limited to, chicken fingers, fries, nachos and cheeze with a Z, and donut walls. Yes, donut walls. Although my wife and I are by no means obsessed with keeping up with the Joneses (or in this case, the Bernsteins or the Levins), believing that in modesty there lies virtue, Jen certainly knows how to entertain in style. She threw a beautiful and tasteful party for family and friends. And much as we strove to get each detail just right, and rigorously did our best to make sure the event went without a hitch, it was Gracie who undertook the lion's share of responsibilities. After all, she was the one who had to learn Hebrew, memorize a lengthy Torah portion, and recite it fluently, in tune—and in front of a small crowd. We owe no small debt of gratitude to Rabbi Brett Krichiver and his cantorial soloist wife, Tami. ree days before the bat mitzvah, rabbi made us feel completely at ease, and he seemed pleasantly surprised at Gracie's proficiency in Hebrew, to the point of saying she could stop practicing. Gracie being Gracie, she didn't, of course. Readers familiar with my letters know I can be something of a worrier. Before the bat mitzvah, I struggled with my parent speech, trying to strike precisely the right tone of pride, hope, fatherly love and all those other emotions a parent feels need to be expressed. is had to be accomplished in just a couple of minutes, which required some curbing of my loquacious tendencies. A few weeks before the big day, I wandered into Gracie's room and asked if there was anything special she wanted me to say. "No," she replied. "Just tell me how wonderful I am. And no kisses. Hugs are OK. And no crying!" So I wrote the speech and, boy, was it fun to stand on the bima with her, along with Jen and our son, Izzy (he's next!), and speak. Gracie's headed to high school in a year, then college and, ultimately, adulthood. Her celebration gave me new perspective on the experience of being a father. Parents know the everyday joys, heartaches, worries and work of raising children. At some moments we experience parenting's official "accomplishments." During Gracie's bat mitzvah, I found myself anticipating her wedding. Not that I'm in a hurry to kick her out of the house. Or for her to start dating, for that matter. What I think I'm looking forward to, setting aside the neutron bomb to my wallet, is another ceremony honoring a rite of passage, when our daughter will strike out into the big wide world. She'll always be my little girl, but she's quickly becoming so much more. I'll probably start working on my wedding speech soon. Right after I open a separate savings account. Jeffrey Cohen jeff@slmag.net From the Editor-in-Chief 30 slmag.net

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