Saturday, May 03, 2008

Immigrants: "may day! may day!"

Yes, the crowds are smaller this year than they were last year. But so are the remittances to struggling relatives that the immigrant workers send back to Brazil and Mexico. What a brilliant solution America has devised for its impasse over immigration! Become as third-worldly as the places immigrants fled ...and back they will go!

Time travel policy: I am at a Bat Mitzvah on the 3rd, you wouldn't want me typing in the middle of the drash now would you? So the third comes a little early


cul said...

Will she be called Bat Girl afterwards?

How does the drash relate to the Bat Mitzvah...or does it? Is it part of the ceremony? Sorry, I'm a complete ignoramus when it comes to Jewish ceremonies.

Hope it goes well.

GreenSmile said...

I am responsible for several information defects at work here:
1. I did not realize post-dating in Blogger now has the effect of having posts actually withheld from the web until their date comes around.

2. Inside jokes: Drash is a short discourse given more or less like a mini-sermon but essentially limited to expanding upon a short passage in the bible,for instance, the modern moral implications of some verse. Points are given for novel spiritual insight or literary elan in finding connections to other parts of the tradition. Any learned Jew should be able to give such an address. SOME reform synagogues inaugurate religious adulthood with the honor of giving one's first drash to an assembled congregation. Those from the Rabbi get at least courteous attention.

In practice, bar mitzvahs vary enormously in budget and spiritual focus. from the young man reading a torah verse at sabbath services held with only men in the room and dad breaks out a bottle of schnapps afterward [orthodox and Hassidic do not make a big deal of this] ..... all the way to the extreme, that is the "Long Island Bar Mitzvah" which can blow more cash on catering, DJ's and decorations than a good wedding. The big deal is that in a temple where the focus is selfconsciously on the quest to make useful guidance out of ancient text an egalitarian denomination would even allow a girl [the orthodox will not go here] to read a portion and to give a drash. This is the custom in the temple I attend. Yesterday's bat mitzvah was an egalitarian denomination but all the opportunities for reflection were blown away by a rather materialistic pageantry.

The affair I attended was of the type long on expense and short on what I consider the benefits of religion. There were fairly empty "thank you for being my parents" and "thank you for being our daughter" speeches and only the rabbi said anything interesting. He connected Sarbanes-Oxley to the Levitical commandment "you shall not place a stumbling block before the blind". Now that I think of it, that was slightly courageous of a rabbi in a shul that could not even afford a cantor and was holding services in a presbyterian church: all the money of that well to do bat mitzvah family in particular came from brokerage houses and trading.

The party after was really something though...

cul said...

Hey, thanks a lot for those insights and picturesque examples. I appreciate you taking the time out to educate me.