Lughnasa Waning Summer Moon
Tanya. Carla. Kenya. Mom. Mary. Mark. Grandma Ellis. Jean. Others whose names I can’t remember. Teachers. All of them. Now, for one night, me. Well, I’ve taught adults in various formats over the years, but never kids. Last night I sat down with 13 kids, 6th and 7th graders, and talked with them about what makes them anxious or worried about their bar or bat mitzvah. “Falling off the chair. I watch a lot of fail videos.” “Chanting the Torah and my voice cracking.” “Having to give a speech.” “Being the center of attention.” “I can’t afford the outfit.”
It was a sweet moment and I got so into listening to them that I forgot the beach ball toss game we were supposed to do. We went from that question to what Jewish values do you want to express at your b’nai mitzvah? What values do both you and your parents share and want to express? “Being a good host.” “Honoring my friends.” “Honoring my family.” “Learning the Jewish tradition and passing it on.” “Throwing a good party.” “Learning Hebrew.”
It was the kickoff event last night for the religious school and it was well attended. Each kid came with one or both parents. Usual glitches. Somebody forgot to order food. Solution: Dominoes. I forgot the beachballs. Solution: listen. Facilitation was by committee. Alan did the introduction. Jen Kraft, the regional person from Moving Traditions, spoke about the development of the curriculum. Jamie facilitated a piece about what the sages thought was appropriate for ages from 5 to 100. Tara facilitated a group exercise in which adults and kids called out descriptors for child, teen, adult.
There were some gumups, but on the whole I thought it went well. I dressed up, which always means I’m nervous. Realized last night that I’ve been doing that long enough that wearing fancier clothes make me nervous, rather than more confident. Makes sense. Learned behavior.
21 sessions still ahead. Most of them won’t be this complex. I have a different sort of respect for all you teachers out there. Will have even more, I imagine, as the school year continues.