Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Reflections on Becoming a Savta

Reflections on Becoming a Savta

So, our oldest daughter, Yoella, and her wonderful husband, Jeremy are now parents of adorable and very beloved (so quickly they come into your lives, these new souls entered this world a mere 13 days ago on September 15, 2010) identical twin girls. We had the privilege of being part of the very special naming ceremony (Simchat HaBanot or Zeved HaBanot – to cover both Ashkenazic and Sephardic ground being the pluralists and Klal Yisraelniks we are!) this past Sunday, Chol HaMoed Sukkot for Neima Hadar and Neli Shimona. Beautiful names, a beautiful ceremony shared with family and friends, and so well thought out by my daughter and son-in-law. In these almost two weeks we already see that they are going to be fun parents with a fun family that will embrace, value and nurture these two girls, truly presents from G-d (the translation, rough though it may be, of the Sephardic name for the ceremony).

As I was sitting there for yet another special occasion (as if Tishrei does not throw enough special days and events our way generally), I noticed the wonder of the moment. The birth of these beautiful girls, the joy in my daughter’s and son-in-law’s faces, the presence of about 120 family and friends, skyping in (thank you, technology!) our daughter Talie from Be’er Sheva where she is in Medical School, and Mira, Jeremy’s sister who is presently in Australia, and so much else.

One profound highlight of the service, aside from the naming itself and the subsequent ceremony and explanation of the names, was an unusual and deeply moving Hoshanot procession with Torahs, Lulavim and Etrogim and babies in tow! Everyone was near tears! We brought together my daughter and son-in-law’s Modern Orthodox congregation from Center City Philadelphia (M’Kor HaBracha), a sizable number of their fellow Akiba Hebrew Academy alumni and classmates, members of our own Young Israel shul, a representative grouping of Germantown Jewish Center, a Conservative synagogue in the area, active Reform and Reconstructionist Jewish practitioners, and people who are part of the larger Jewish community, those who are part of other faith communities, and so many other wonderful human beings.

During the explanation of the names of the newest members of the Jewish community (though we did wait 11 days for this, so there are no doubt newer ones by this point), it was clear the amazing thought and consideration that Yoella and Jeremy put into these choices. The souls that are recalled in these names were all people of great faith and character and their legacies will be carried on in these new lives and in this newly configured family. What honor (and responsibility) these girls carry with them as they begin their own exciting journeys!

I am watching all of this with tears in my eyes and a swelling of gratitude in my heart that was difficult to contain. How dare any parent be as happy and fulfilled as I am – how can it be possible to be so blessed?! G-d has truly given us so much. I am looking at my children – Yoella and Jeremy, Talie (on the computer screen), Rachie who came back from New Orleans and her work in repairing the world, and our fourteen year old Brian who is already the proud and care giving uncle, and of course, my wonderful husband Ken and it is hard to put into words the depth of feelings I have. The greatest blessing of all for a parent is to feel that your children are exactly what you had dared to hope they would be – wonderful human beings, caring individuals, committed Jews (in our case), and grateful for all that they have.

I know that Neima Hadar and Neli Shimona are truly blessed to be their parents’ children, the niece of their uncles and aunts, grandchildren to seven grandparents, and the member of this wonderful family with four great-grandparents, cousins, friends and community, and oh yes, among all of this a new Zaide (Ken) and as for me….. we don’t use the G word or the B word, just call me Savta!

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