Friday, June 24, 2011

Mazel tov all around!

Family Simcha’s are the best! Family members fly in from all corners of the country/world to spend three days and nights, dressing up (some of us are more comfortable with this than others ... ), filling our tummies with delicious Jewish food, commenting on how great we all look, and kvelling about the latest accomplishments of our children or grand children. In the middle of all of this, is the actual reason for us being together — The Wedding, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Brit Mila or Baby Naming. No matter what the Occasion is, there are always tears of joy, mazel tov’s all around, and a few extra pounds on the scale by the time all is said and done. Those of us that couldn’t make it to the event wait impatiently for the facebook updates and online slideshows. In our family — news travels so quickly — that any noteworthy tidbit makes it from Vancouver to Jerusalem and back almost simultaneously! By the time the pictures arrive we are all convinced we were actually there, even if we weren’t!

In May this year, our family was lucky enough to have two beautiful Simchas in very close succession. One in Vancouver and one in Toronto — and Marc and I were lucky enough to be able to enjoy them both first hand. In anticipation of both events, I started planning what I would make for each of the girls experiencing their rites of passage this past May. 

India Raine (Is that not the most beautiful name you have ever heard?) came into this world on December 13th 2010. I think that it is safe to say, that there is a competition going on between the parents, grandparents and super baba (India’s great grandmother), as to who can love this beautiful baby girl the most! And the rest of the extended family is not far behind. 

I set to work creating a baby naming certificate for India several months ago. I was so excited about it, that I came up with a number of ideas. The final design is pink pink pink! India’s favourite colour. Lots of pretty flowers and two happy peacocks. The final artwork was ready for her naming ceremony mid May, here in Vancouver. India, dressed in pink (of course), was a perfect lady during the proceedings, letting mommy and daddy, all of the grandparents and super baba do all of the crying! It was amazingly beautiful and meaningful. I still get teary just thinking about it. 

Less than two weeks later we were on a plane to Toronto for the next amazing family extravaganza. 

Sarah is many years past her baby naming ceremony. This year was the year for her to prepare for becoming a Bat Mitzvah. Anyone that has gone through this process, knows it is a lot of hard work. There is a whole year of study. A Torah portion and Haftorah to understand and learn how to read, and how to chant. And then a speech to write about the whole experience. And on top of everything, this all has to be performed in front of a packed Synagogue of family and friends. It seems impossible to expect this of a 12 year old ...

But I forgot to tell you that Sarah plays hockey. She is a goalie, and a really good one — She doesn't shy away from difficult tasks.

I knew I wanted to create a keepsake for Sarah that included her Torah portion and symbols of her coming of age this year. Her Torah portion is called Bamidbar, which means “in the desert”. As we all know — lots of crazy stuff went down in the 40 years our ancestors wandered in the desert. G-d didn’t have a lot of nice things to say about the experimentation, and some of that tantrum ended up in Sarah’s portion. I didn't dwell on that though — I had my own interpretation. The way I see it, everyone makes mistakes. The important thing is to learn from them and to always remember who you are. So for Sarah, I incorporated the symbols of the sabbath, the Torah, and scenes of Israel with the words she studied and learned to chant so beautifully, into a keepsake that I hope will remind her of her incredible achievement becoming a Bat Mitzvah and her connection to the Jewish people. 

Like the 40 years in the desert, preparing for a Bat Mitzvah, was no picnic. But with hard work comes big rewards. The Bat Mitzvah weekend was amazing. Sarah outdid herself. If she was nervous, it didn't show for a moment. We all got to dress up and eat non-stop for three days — and — really enjoy each others company. Seeing her beaming parents and grandparents as the Bat Mitzvah girl recited her haftorah and delivered her speech at the Synagogue and later at the evening dinner party, was priceless. 

Sarah’s younger sister Chloe was the master of ceremonies for the Saturday evening party. We have a few years to wait for her turn on the Bimah — but if the previews are any indication, it will be a Simcha not to be missed! 

Mazel tov to India and Sarah and to families everywhere celebrating — and eating — and crying tears of joy!


  1. Absolutely stunning pieces and I love your 'story' behind them both too. India and Sarah truly have received amazing keepsakes.