When a Jewish boy turns 13 and has his bar mitzvah, he is told, “Today you are a man.” Roughly translated, that means he is old enough to take on adult responsibilities.
Aside from the religious ceremony showing he is able to read and chant Hebrew and learn Jewish law, the event is usually followed by a festive celebration. Being the only girl between two brothers, growing up in a time when bat mitzvahs were just coming into being for girls, it was not an option for me. So at 13, I simply became a teenager. Saddle shoes and poodle skirts, but no official religious ceremony lifting me into adulthood.
I never outgrew the longing for what I had missed. Many many years later, as I approached a birthday that surely signaled adulthood, I decided to give life to my dream. Haltingly, because I had serious concerns about being able to learn Hebrew at an older age, I joined an adult bat mitzvah class at my synagogue.
My late husband, who at the time was neither late nor Jewish, jumped on board to help his wife fulfill her goal. He studied with me, held up Hebrew letter flashcards and reassured me daily that I could and would accomplish this. It made the process, as well as the ceremony, a very happy time. In an unexpected turn of events, George’s participation in my dream project prompted him to convert to Judaism.
During my year of searching for my next goals, a companion piece to having a bat mitzvah was to write a column again. Many years prior, while I was a single mom, I had created On Single Parents, a column that kept me in touch with many readers who were addressing the same issues. Now I wanted to address the later and last years of life, hence Senior Moments was born. The first column was published 13 years ago this month.
Senior Moments, and the family of readers it has created, has a life of its own. Together we have come of age sharing moments of the joys and less joys of blending families, marriage, serious illness, negotiating loss, life after loss, fires, windstorms and even a pandemic.
Discovering that the everyday little moments are actually the big moments.
Just like my bat mitzvah, writing this column has been better than I could have imagined.
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