Where to even begin?? Let me just start by saying this weekend lived up to my dreams, and even surpassed it. Big huge shout out goes to our caterer who listened to me, and provided delicious meals, an abundance of food, and set everything up perfectly. His staff were so courteous and respectful. Truth be told, I walked in to the hall to check on the kiddush and was moved to tears by how beautifully it was all set up. So L’chaim to Rabbi Kiss of L’Chaim Catering (seriously, call them for your event. 845 354 2626 – you will not be sorry. I have not been compensated in anyway to bring you this message!)
The family started arriving Friday afternoon, after I had spent the day getting prettified and getting the house ready. The photographer showed up at 2.30 for 2 hours of shots with us and the boys. He certainly managed to work around four rambunctious boys who were not very interested in posing for pix. It was so lovely to see my boys all dressed up in their new barmitzvah finery, ties knotted properly (for once), cufflinks twinkling at the wrists, and their shirts perfectly white.
At this point, I want to add a note of thanks to the community. The warmth that they have shown us for the simcha was truly amazing. Before Shabbat there were candy and chocolate platters delivered, cakes and delicacies – just to wish us mazel tov. We have been so surrounded with love and light by our new community – it makes me truly grateful to be living here. They welcomed all our guests into the shul, gave up their seats for them, all out of the goodness of their hearts.
By the time we had to leave for shul, all the guests had arrived, hugs and kisses had been exchanged and the excitement was palpable.
We headed to the shul for candle lighting and evening services. After services we had Friday night dinner in the shul hall for about 40 family members and out of town guests. The barmitzvah boy made kiddush and hamotzi, although I had to help him hold up the challah as it was HUGE!!
Now, you have to understand, there were 5 grandparents celebrating HockeyFan’s barmitzvah, but only ONE of them is actually biologically related. There were 2 parents and 2 step parents, siblings and stepsiblings, and a whole bunch of friends and family – and everyone made a huge effort to get along. There was tremendous simcha in the room. Not one note of disaccord. We are blessed that we were able to make this simcha all together, but it’s something we all work hard on every single day.
There were no speeches Friday night – I made a quick welcome remark, nothing major, and Prince Lenny peformed his grammen.
Shabbat morning we were up early – I hadn’t slept much that night, so was raring to go by 7 am. We walked to shul looking forward to the big event.
It was truly a family affair. My oldest son davened shacharit (seeing him standing at the amud (podium) I was struck by how grown up he’s become, HockeyFan’s father and stepfather, grandfather and uncle, had aliyot, Lenny had Hagba (lifting the Torah) and Squiggy and Chatterbox both had Gelilah (dressing the torah). His step brother sang anim Zemirot and another stepbrother opened the aron. But the main event was when HockeyFan was called to the Torah – the chazzan called him up in a special way and I would like to say it brought tears to my eyes, but by then I had already been crying for a while!
I watched his father drape him in a tallit, my little boy who is now halachically a man, and I got chills. This was the moment we had been working towards since his bris, and here it was! His voice rang out – young, unbroken, and clear. Soon enough his voice will break and he will sound like a frog, but for now it was perfect! His father stood next to him encouraging him throughout.
Once the last note of his brachot died away it was time to throw candies. A very good friend, Lady Florence, had put together candy pecklach (packages) of soft candies and marshmallows for us. The boys had handed them out earlier during the Torah reading. There was mayhem as the little kids scrambled on the bima to collect up the candies – but there was plenty for everyone.
Once the mussaf service was over everyone descended to the shul hall to enjoy the delectable array of yummy foods set up for the kiddush. It was a chance for all to mingle and wish mazel tov and enjoy some food.