Last time I checked, I was Jewish. Such an appellation does not mean that I am from a particular part of the world, that I hark back to an extended family that lived in a certain way or another, that I cover my hair with one type of modest wrapper rather than with something else, or that I eschew prayer cantillations that are unfamiliar to me. Rather, the reference “Yid” marks me as: awestruck by The Almighty, needing to constantly work on my character traits, and revering the Holy Land and the Holy People.
Accordingly, given that my husband and my kids hold similar views about being Jewish, our friends tend to range across the entire array of Yiddishkeit, b’ayin tova. Consequently, in recent weeks, we attended weddings, Seudot Bnai Mitzvah, Brit Milot, and engagement parties celebrating Chassidic, Modern Orthodox, Sephardi, and Litvische families. My mishpacha is blessed.
Regarding my family’s Chassidic friends, although my knees no longer allow me to take part, I love watching the simcha dancing these friends facilitate at weddings. Joy is essential to serving Hakodesh Baruch Hu as well as is a telltale sign of emunah. When we Jews act sincerely on the belief that The Boss is driving the bus, we have no reason not to be happy.
As per my family’s Modern Orthodox pals, it’s important to exclaim the success with which these dear ones integrate select parsimonies of the greater world with complex Torah values. For instance, at a Seudah Bar Mitzvah, the parents of a celebrant born during Parsha Noach made sure that the hall’s surfaces were decked with comestible abundance as well as with collections of plastic critters. Whereas the youngest guests were enamored with the many available bowls of candies, the pancake station, and the cake table, they also made sure to claim fists full of lions, tigers and bears. Simultaneously, we slightly more mature partakers were impressed with how our friends had taken an often trivialized parsha and had transformed it into something both palpable and memorable.
Later that week, some of my family’s Sephardi friends, as is their wont, set new standards of Jewish hospitality at a vort. Words of Torah flowed. Guests were greeted at and later ushered past their door. Many introductions were made among well wishers. There was a place for all visitors. Many smiles were shared. I lingered, not wanting to leave.
As per our Litvische friends, all comers to their party found themselves among true princes of Israel as we listened to Drashot. At that celebration of a bar Mitzvah boy, the apparel of the Bal Simcha and his family was elegant, the food was served unobtrusively, and cute, yet practical, gifts were given to all participants. However, the most important aspect of our friends’ warmth was the care that they gave to the very young, to the very old, and to travelers that had journeyed literally across the world to attend the festivity. Royalty, among Yids, as evidenced at this happy occasion, remains not just the province of lineage, but also of manner.
In a settlers’ community, outside of Yerushalayim, my husband and I again sat among Jews gathered together for a wonderful reason. In that Yeshuv, we welcomed a future scholar warrior to the tribe. After the brit, itself, we sipped, supped, and talked of ways to advertise the glory of our Maker. Among the scarf-covered heads and knit kippot, the depth of our covenant with The Almighty was clear. For those generations of loyal Jews, the need to cleave to the imperative to use all of our internal and external resources to attend to the ways of Torah is unequivocal.
During the next few weeks, B’ezrat Hashem, Computer Cowboy and I will join with other families whom are special to us at additional sma’achot. May it be the case that such exultations continue to show Am Yisrael’s devotion to The Boss! May it be the case, as well, that such communal excitement continues to join together Jews!
Brachot are necessary to life cycle events. Dvrai Torah are integral to them. Food, drink, dancing, and other forms of shared delight are either required or are traditional at such junctures. Nonetheless, it is our collective observation of these vital moments that helps keep us front and center, that enables us to create Kiddush Hashem. Our sma’achot, simply, remind us that our Yiddishe communities truly are concentric.