Banging on the Melting Pot

Our nephew at at my mom's pool party
Our nephew at at my mom’s pool party

Norman Rockwell painting

When I was growing up there was nothing but Catholics in my family but then my parents jumped ship and switched us to public schools and we really took advantage of the freedom. There were six of us before my youngest sister came along and I remember the thrill of entertaining “pagan” names for her. “Amy” won out and there was certainly no Saint Amy then. There may be now that the last pope named more saints than all others combined.

Two of my cousins became nuns, my aunt became a Jehovah’s Witness, Amy married into a Jewish family, Peggi’s sister did too and one of my brothers converted to Judaism. His oldest son had his bar mitzvah a few years ago. His youngest, shown in the middle above becomes a bar mitzvah tomorrow. This happens automatically upon turning 13 years old. No ceremony is needed but since the 15th century it became customary to mark the occasion by whooping it up. Further adventures into the melting pot have me playing my djembe behind Hebrew chanting at the Temple.


3 Replies to “Banging on the Melting Pot”

  1. For clarification, a Jewish child becomes a “ bar/ bat mitzvah” or the historical non gender term, “bnai mitzvah”, only after they read from Torah in front of the community after they turn age 13. No celebration is historically common, and that whoop it up stuff started around 1960 when the economy was good and Jews were trying to prove their prowess. (my interpretation, my mother may have had another). But for example, my 80 year old cousin read from Torah at Saturday morning service, went home and had a simple lunch with extended family, no gifts, no DJ.

    Regardless no matter what time period 1900-2000, one must be able to read a significant portion of Torah to become a “bnai mitzvah”. A Bnai Mitzvah (adjective not noun) essentially means one is a member of the adult Jewish community that can read from Torah, and as such are expected to participate in services by reading from Torah, and doing Tikum Olum (community service).

    Neither I nor Mark have are a Bnai Mitzvah, though our 3 kids are.

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