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Derek's Bar Mitzvah

Today we got up early and dressed in shirts, ties, jackets, good shoes and trousers and dresses and things, and drove to the synagogue. (If we were being "observant" we would have had to have walked, because you are not supposed to drive cars on Shabbat.) We had to get to the synagogue by 9:30.

The synagogue is composed of quite a few buildings in a cluster. The Sanctuary is truly a beautiful piece of architecture, designed by a member of the congregation apparently. It is based on a motif like the bottom half of a capital letter "A" - two uprights sloping inward capped by a horizontal. The back wall is composed of two stained glass windows from floor to ceiling composed of odd-shaped triangular glass pieces of various shades of blue, on either side of a white stone triangle section in front of which is situated the ark. (The ark is the cupboard that contains the Torah.)  All throughout the service, my eyes were continually drawn to shapes in the windows, the network of lines in the stained glass that traced out abstract stars of David. Beautiful.

We sat down near the front row, because Derek had asked Lisa to read one of the aliyoht, or blessings, and was required to get up "on stage", which is called the bima. In fact, I was asked to come up as well, to be "introduced" to the congregation.

Derek's involvement in the service was almost total. Being Bar Mitzva is not just a case of reading one of the lessons, or anything, but a true rite of passage - a grueling two and a half hour session of readings and stuff, of varying difficulty. Derek acquitted himself extremely well, of course. Derek is smart and quick and drives himself hard, and would have done well no matter what.

This was the second jewish service I had been to, and I was pretty comfortable with everything and all the different elements in the service.

After the service, we strolled out into the courtyard for wine and challah, which is a honey-egg bread thing, followed by a lunch. For the Shabbat, this is called Kiddush.

After lunch we went back to the house at which we are staying, and brought with us Josh and Derek and several extended family friends of the kids such as Kevin and Merlin. We played cards (Oh Hell and Hearts), drank coffee, ate dried apricots, watched TV and took naps <g>.

Later, Lisa dropped the kids back at their house, and then came back here and we napped some more. Finally it was time to dress up again, this time more casually, for the party.

The party was good, with dancing, and talking, and a really good meal. One of the caterers noticed Lisa's jade pendant that I had given her a few years ago (on her first trip out to NZ) and asked her if she was from New Zealand - apparently she used to live in Gore (!!) and was familiar with the style <g>. Of course, we explained (the potted-history-in-1-minute version.)

We are now back home again, rather tired. What a wonderful day.