Parents are known for nagging their children. Jewish parents are known for a great deal of nagging their children about anything and everything. Jewish parents whose children are prepping for a bar or bat mitzvah ceremony are in excessive, hyper-drive mode of nagging.

And that was my situation for the past several months, as we got my younger daughter ready for her bat mitzvah ceremony. And now that they day has come and gone, I do feel relief, but also a sense of emptiness. Momentary!

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Our younger daughter was thus the fourth member of my family to celebrate this coming of age at Brooklyn's East Midwood Jewish Center. My ceremony was a Friday night service in April 1977; my brother paired up with a boy named Yossi in December 1979, and my older daughter's time was October 2013. So our family has sweated it out, reading Torah and Haftorah portions, speeches and prayers for our big days.


I have to admit that my younger daughter worried more than my older girl. My older child was more organized, and more willing to practice. She would often say "Let me get it over with," and practice her layning for me without much fuss. My younger girl's more typical response to my persistent nagging had been "Later!" And yes, it would happen later in the day, with more stops and starts, more fussing, and more hand-wringing on my part.

But she came through and did a very nice job. The two times I grew worried were first, when she began to skip a line. I whispered a word prompt to her and she realized she had skipped a whole line, so she smoothly went back and found her spot. But later while she chanted the brachot she panicked and lost her place. Unfortunately that was when a woman ( and we think we know who) loudly snapped "She lost her place!" That was an unfortunate utterance, to say the least. But the hazzan quietly sang a two-word prompt for her and my daughter regained her momentum, and completed the brachot nicely.

So Shabbat Chayei Sarah was a mixture of pride and joy, angst and relief. And my daughter greatly enjoyed the nice party we threw for her at night. She's a big kid now, no more little girl (to paraphrase a soul song of the 1970s). And she is taller than I by about an inch! But I have to pinch myself to realize that she is no longer the little curly haired girl she once was, clad in princess costumes. Now she is a long-haired, tall young lady wearing rock 'n roll T-shirts, griping about Algebra homework. Sunrise, sunset indeed.

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