Bat Mitzvah Blues
Feature by Nava Waisman

Pow, posh, plink, tsss…

My dad's silver Acura drove smoothly in the pounding rain with both of us inside, sitting on the chilly black leather of the front two seats. We were suspiciously driving in the direction of my grandparents' house. That's strange, I told myself in a concerned manner, noting that I usually go to my grandparents’ on Wednesday, and it was Thursday. By then, I had settled with the fact that people had been cancelling left and right for my Bat Mitzvah on Saturday due to the coronavirus. The coronavirus is a mean virus that is shutting down many excitedly awaited events. But despite all of this madness, I was sure the worst of it was behind me.

The sound of the engine slowing down and then stopping directly in front of my grandparents' house filled my ears. I looked out the window and saw the familiar light blue home where much of my Bat Mitzvah planning had occurred. It was then, reminded of my big day and out of pure hope nothing new had come up, that I asked my dad, "Is there anything new on the Bat Mitzvah?"
"Well, let's wait to go inside and then I'll tell you," he said, anxious to get in the house. Just like that, my heart started beating vividly and rapidly with nervousness and surprise, what could he possibly need to tell me inside?
"Please, tell me now." He then gave a deep sigh and explained,

"Alright. We aren't having the luncheon and only close family are coming to your service”. The world around me suddenly froze. I felt this loss all over me. My heart stopped like a sudden decision, my eyes watered like the rain outside, my brain was in a million different places at once. With this, I bawled like I had never before. My mind raced to all of the blood, sweat and tears that had been put into making March 14th the perfect day. This couldn't be.

My dad and I walked with a cold, unprecedented disappointment on our shoulders up to the front porch. I greeted my grandma with a wet, teared-filled hug.

After that, I trudged unhappily to my grandparents' room, where my parents and I sat down on the light green comforter to hash out the unexpected facts. “We can’t have gatherings over 50 people” they both seemed to be saying sadly.

“I can’t believe this is happening” I barely screeched between sobs. It was like in the past week, I had been playing a game of Jenga. Every time someone had cancelled, a piece of the tower got taken out and I was doing my best for it not to fall. But now, the piece that was stabilizing the tower had just been taken out and the whole tower had collapsed.

I spent the rest of the afternoon recalling all of my sessions studying the Hebrew I had to learn; stopping and playing the recording about a thousand times until I could get it right. The Wednesday afternoons my grandma and I spent talking about the cutlery and plates we would have at the luncheon. All of the other ceremonies people had had without a noticeable kink. The bottom line is I spent so much time and put so much effort into this and now none of my family from out of town or friends could come. There had to be something I could do to smooth out this rudely enormous bump in the road.

Over sweet potato pie, I convinced my parents to let my friends come to the service. I figured that, if you're going to read from an ancient text you have been practicing for over eight months, you might as well have your cherished friends there. We called all of my friends, asking if they would still come to be with me on Saturday. After many rings and voicemails, we got the message to my friends that I would so appreciate them to be there with me, to rebuild the Jenga tower.

I then realized that maybe this won't be so terrible. My fantastic friends are coming, we're still having a rocking kids party and my amazing close family will be with me every step of the way.

My Bat Mitzvah washed in and out like a meaningful and refreshing wave that rolled over my toes with ease. The emptiness of the sanctuary where I had spent so much of my childhood practicing my religion, felt wary. Although, there was a certain feeling of togetherness and overcoming that filled the room with a fresh hope everyone needed. Something I will always remember are the smiles on peoples faces, happy they could celebrate before the gates of civilization closed. I am proud that I was able to spread a vibration of strength through Judaism. I realized that after everything that I went through, it was all worth the beautiful ride.