Friday, October 15, 2010

Peri's Bat Mitzvah

Our second Bat Mitzvah. We attended Hannah's--a.k.a. Peri's sister--ceremony last summer.

The exterior of the temple. It's in Northwest Portland and quite beautiful.

The facade is very much like the churches built at the same time as it was but with Jewish symbols and Hebrew words, instead of crosses and scripture.

The interior is beautiful. Behind the dias is the Ark. It rolls back to display the temple's Torah Scrolls. This was a very moving part of the ceremony for me the last time I saw it. One of their Torah scrolls is from Eastern Europe and was rescued during the Holocaust. All B'nei Mitzvah students at this temple read from this scroll as a symbol that the children's voices were not silenced.

A detail of one of the light figures, suspended from the ceiling.
The ceremony itself was very moving. Peri's Torah portion was Genesis 12: 1-12 which is the story of Abram's journey to the land of Canaan and Egypt. In her speech after her Torah reading, Peri talked about her own journey from China to her forever family and the angels who have watched out for her over the years, such as her grandmother who suspected that Peri had the metabolic disorder P.K.U. Because of her Grandmother's suspicions, Peri was tested, diagnosed and put on a special medical diet. Without this diet, Peri would not have been able to process protein and would have been severely mentally retarded. Peri spoke of hopeful new research and a treatment that may allow her to eat a normal diet. P.K.U. is one of the genetic disorders that all US born babies are automatically tested for at birth. In China, she was not tested.

I've watched Peri grow up from a shy third grader who never spoke to me, to a chatty seventh grader who always works hard to get things right. It was thrilling to hear her speak so clearly about her struggles and her hopes. I found myself several times wishing for a handkerchief, and I know that everyone around me dissolved into puddles too. The Rabbi commented that he didn't think he had ever seen so many tissues at a Bat Mitzvah ceremony before. Peri was incredibly joyful to take on this new role in her congregation.

At the brunch after the ceremony, the centerpieces were make of items to be donated to the Oregon Humane Society, where Peri has been volunteering.
A delicious spread.

Matt and I with the happy bat mitzvah (Daughter of the Commandment.)

1 comment:

Sara K. said...

How fantastic! I still have never been to a Bat Mitzvah. This year I have more Jewish students...maybe I will get the invite some day!! I love the centerpieces. Great idea.