Tomorrow my niece will have her Bat Mitzvah. She will get up in front of the congregation and friends and family from near and far and she will read from the Torah. It is a Jewish rite of passage and she is well prepared for it. She will do great.
I, on the other hand, will bomb.
I never had a Bat Mitzvah. I was raised in the same synagogue where she will have her ceremony, and while it is a beautiful house of worship, it’s also quite large. As a kid her age I was quite shy. I begged my parents not to make me do it, and they agreed. I still don’t entirely understand that decision, but I’m happy with it. As a result, I never had to go up there and recite Hebrew in front of all those people. I dodged a bullet. Or so I thought.
A few nights ago my brother mentioned that he would like me and my mother to recite two prayers during the service. One is recited before reading the Torah, and the other is recited after. I’ve heard both of these prayers many many times during my life, but could I tell you the exact words? Did I mention that they’re in Hebrew? Gulp.
My brother told me not to worry, they have a laminated card right up there on the pulpit so you can’t mess up. The words are written in english syllables. Sort of. And the tune… well, let’s just say it’s a kind of sing-song chant thing. I should know it. But I don’t.
My internet access has been somewhat limited, so it wasn’t until tonight that I was able to hunt around on youtube to find these prayers. Finally, a Jan Lieberman, a cantor from Florida, had what I needed. I know most of it, but there’s still one line that’s tricky. The sounds she makes and the english letters on the laminated card don’t seem to match up in my brain, so I’m still a little stuck on that part. Add to that the fact that my mother is completely tone deaf, and I don’t have a great voice to begin with, and I think we’re in trouble.
The good news is that I’ve got the first prayer down. The further good news is that the second prayer is only about 15 seconds long on the youtube video. It will be fine, I have all night to listen to it. Besides, nobody will be paying attention to me anyway, it’s my niece’s day, and she will be perfect.
July 18, 2014 at 8:38 pm
I think I have it… the tricky part sounds a little like “bit o’honey”… I can remember that!
July 19, 2014 at 12:20 am
I brought my own transliteration to my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah because I disliked the laminated card so much (it was written with Ashkenazic pronunciations instead of Sephardic if that makes any sense) and I stood there at my son’s Bar Mitzvah 4 years prior mouthing it. So I brought my own and it went great. Good luck and Mazel Tov!
July 19, 2014 at 1:09 am
I’m sure it will work and I agree, it’s your niece’s day :o) I hope she will have a wonderful day.
July 19, 2014 at 4:23 am
I know she will. She is a wonderful girl, and she knows her stuff! I am honored to share this special occasion with her, even if there’s this small amount of discomfort involved. Thank you for your kind words.
July 19, 2014 at 1:13 am
Your post made me smile. Do you know that i live in Israel, speak Hebrew, read Hebrew and I STILL panic every time I need to have an aliyah to the Torah. Trust me, you’re not alone! You will be great and if not, don’t worry. In the audience people always think it’s cute when people are singing the blessings. My father always does it with a traditional ashkenazic “S” instead of “T” and I laugh at him. But from a place of loving not judgment
July 19, 2014 at 4:22 am
Coming from your point of view, that’s a huge help! Thank you Jen. 🙂
July 20, 2014 at 8:16 pm
I’m delighted my video was of some help in learning to chant the Torah Blessings. Hope it went well. …….. : )
July 21, 2014 at 7:15 pm
And I’m delighted not only that you helped me be a part of my niece’s day, but that you found and commented on this little post of mine! Thank you so much for making me feel a little more confident as I played my role. I managed, but my niece was wonderful. 🙂