Monday, December 2, 2013

It’s official: Bailey Rebecca becomes Chana Tovah

Bailey all decked out in her Etz Chaim
T-shirt that she was given as a present during
her baby naming last weekend.
Want to know what perfection looks like? I came close to spotting it over the weekend when Georgia won, Alabama lost and my granddaughter was “officially” named during Shabbat services at my synagogue.

The football games were nice – actually, incredible – but the icing on the cake was Bailey’s debut in the Jewish community, a transcendent moment of high ritual and ancient prayers when my eight-week-old granddaughter received her Hebrew name, Chana Tovah.
Boys are circumcised and given their Hebrew name when they are only eight days old; an ancient practice, the Brit Milah, which makes them officially part of the covenant of Abraham. This all might seem a bit bizarre for those of you outside the Tribe. Let’s just agree it’s a Jewish thing, and leave it at that.

Meanwhile, in recent decades, little girls have been welcomed into the community with a small, significantly less traumatizing event: the baby naming. We Jews take formal Hebrew names both to honor and recall family members who have died and to use in Jewish rituals – being called to the Torah for an aliyah or on religious contracts like a ketubah. Again, it’s a Jewish thing!
Those are some of the esoteric details, but the moment is mostly a celebration of family and culture, an opportunity to embrace who and what we’re about as individuals, a community and a people. For a moment Bailey, her mom and dad, stood beaming on the bima, our rabbi declaring to the world that Chana Tovah has become part of our ancient covenant.

He then cradled her gently and offered up the Priestly Blessing, that God bless and keep Chana Tovah; that He fills her life with light and is gracious with her; that He lifts up His face and grants Bailey a life of Shalom, Peace!
Apparently the blessing worked!

Bailey was not only at peace, she pretty much took a ho-hum attitude to the entire affair. She managed to sleep through the entire service, only fluttered awake momentarily during the celebratory luncheon, and completely ignored the dozen or so folks passing her about like a pop-star fan in a mosh pit.
So this is for you Bailey, a little remembrance that perhaps you’ll read on the eve of your Bat Mitzvah in 2026 or when you graduate from the, ah, University of Georgia – okay, we’ll discuss school options later.

More importantly, maybe this tiny blog will remind you of who you are and what’s important in life as you prepare to be sworn in as the first Jew and second woman to be president of the United States.
With great parents and doting grandparents, loving aunts, uncles, cousins and friends – many present and kvelling this festive weekend – it seems there are no limits on what you might accomplish with your life.

I’m just happy that I’ll be around to watch it all take shape in coming years.

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