A place for random thoughts, ideas, and fun!
|**note - this was written for Facebook, and not edited for my WDC blog.
On Friday evening, November 28, 2014, Ari received a new Hebrew name at a ceremony held at our synagogue in Media, PA. It was such a beautiful evening, being surrounded by friends and family, and the community that had been our home for so many years.
I hardly know where to begin. The service itself was unique – Shabbat Around the Table, with 6 rectangular tables placed in a semi-circle, and one table jutting in toward the center of the semi-circle, from the open end.
We began the service with a few of the traditional Friday night prayers – favorites that never fail to bring a smile to my face. Watching Sophie as she recalled some of them and sang along was wonderful. Watching Jake and seeing that he did not remember most of them made me a little sad. I need to find a way to bring that into our lives in a meaningful way, since we are not part of a community in California.
The ceremony itself was absolutely amazing. I was so moved, that I’m having a tough time remembering specifics about what Rabbi Linda said, but I will do my best. Hopefully some of the people who were in attendance will jump in and fill in any gaps I’ve missed. She began by welcoming us back, and talking about how this had been our community from the time Ari was very small, and how wonderful it was that Ari was taking this step within the community.
Ari gave their speech, which was beautiful, full of personal introspection on the topic of names, and gender, and an attempt to describe to others with no common frame of reference what it feels like to not have a gender. They talked about Judaism, and being a part of the community as their true self, and asked for the gift of the use of correct name and pronouns.
My own speech, which I will post as well, spoke of unconditional love, and teaching, and a shared view of the place of Judaism in our lives, as well as my gratitude for being a part of such an important moment, and my blessing for Ari’s shining future.
My mom, and dad, and stepmom all gave beautiful speeches expressing love, and pride, and the powerful sense that their support will never waver. I am not doing justice to their speeches, but each one brought me to tears.
My sister-in-law, Meg, read a poem that I had found, called Extract from “Education of the Affect,” which I will also post. I am so grateful that she and my brother-in-law, Josh, were both there to celebrate with us!
Then Sophie and Jake read a poem. Sophie was so excited when Ari asked her to say something during the ceremony, but she was having a tough time writing a speech, so I suggested a poem. She found one online, and adapted it. The original was called “Three Sisters,” but she changed it to “Three Siblings.” I’m not sure there was a dry eye in the house after that!
The service continued with Rabbi Linda’s blessing, conveying Ari their new Hebrew name, and then talking a little bit about being an ally. An imperfect ally, because that’s what we are – as humans, we are imperfect, and we make mistakes, but the fact that we are allies means that we are trying, and that we are learning. It was powerful and amazing. We sang joyfully to Ari to celebrate!
During the remainder of the service, my dad read an alternate reading for Ma’ariv. It is called Twilight People, and I found it posted here: https://www.facebook.com/TheJewishMindfulnessNetwork/posts/690389664361199?fref=...
After the service was over, Ari’s friends presented them with a gift . . . a beautiful, vintage pirate hat, with rainbow feathers pinned in place with a vintage pin. It was gorgeous, and it was perfect!
And then there was the cake. There was some hesitation over cutting into it, so I finally grabbed the knife and began cutting, only to hear “wait, wait!” I turned around . . . and there was a sword. Yes, a sword. One of Ari’s friends, who had come to the service in kilt and sword, had presented the sword for cutting the cake. So Ari cut their cake with a sword! My mom got it on video. I’m hoping it gets posted!
Rabbi Linda was so amazing, I cannot even express in words how truly moving it was to be there, to have her perform this wonderful ceremony, and to really go above and beyond to make the entire evening special for everyone. Some of Ari’s friends were asking questions, and at one point I turned around and they were standing on the bima, and Rabbi Linda had a Torah out of the ark and was showing it to them. Talking, answering questions, showing them the different elements.
It’s difficult to convey just how remarkable the evening was.
The overwhelming feeling that I had was of deep, profound love, acceptance, and the support of family, friends, and community.
**Edited after all, because I wanted to add this . . . the pirate hat? It was a decoy. The real gift, which has not yet been given to Ari, is a laptop that their friends got together to purchase for them! Because once again, their laptop is not functioning. I was so overwhelmed when the frriend with the kilt pulled me aside to tell me!