Tuesday, May 24, 2005

knitting kippahs for the big event

So a year ago I said I was going to knit kippahs for this event. I took Max to the LYS and he picked our two nice cottons in fingering weight. I got some size 2 needles and started fiddling around. I didn't mind knitting the kippah it just didn't look like I had hoped. The decreases weren't semetrical, seems I got off by one stitch and didn't notice. After starting over several times, I decided that maybe, since it's a Havdallah bar mitzvah and there will be no Torah portion per se, that kippahs were not required. Max will do his tiny bit of Torah Friday night when we have an intimate setting of family and a few exceptionally close friends. I'll share our stash of a zillion kippahs and Maxwell will wear the one I made. Maybe for William's bar mitzvah I'll actually make the kippahs, but William is saying he wants a rock climbing bar mitzvah. I don't think I'm ready to deal with that just yet. I'll post a picture of the one and only completed kippah. I don't think I understood the math of decreases when I made it. A friend said I should knit it in Wool of the Andes on giant needles and felt them! The problem with that is his Bar Mitzvah is in AUGUST. Can you imagine wearing a felted kippah in August?

Sunday, May 22, 2005

and the volunteering goes on

Look at these pictures and you'll only see 2 of the several places Max has volunteered over the year. Max has logged hours volunteering at the following places:

Pink Palace Museum, special exhibits, Memphis, TN
Lichterman Nature Center, trail building and maintenance, Memphis, TN
Memphis Zoo, nutritional research, Memphis, TN
Ronald McDonald House, special events, Memphis, TN
Cumberland Trail, trail building, TN
Ozark Trail Association, trail building and maintaining, MO
Memphis Public Library, donated books, Memphis, TN
P.A.W.S. of Tulsa, fostered cats and kittens (in his room), Tulsa, OK
Low cost Spay and Neuter, monitored recovering dogs and cats, Tulsa, OK

Repairing and maintaining the world are the main focuses of Max's service projects. These pictures show him either volunteering or just hanging out in the last few months.

William and Maxwell having a great time at the Greek Festival in Memphis Posted by Hello

Ginger (mama) and Max reading (as usual) Posted by Hello

Max and Nathan at St. Louis' City Museum and the Puking Pig. They played in there for an hour until staff chased them out. Posted by Hello

Max got a kayak as an early bar mitzvah present and he's learning to paddle. Posted by Hello

Max with 3 of his favorite things.  Posted by Hello

Max broke his foot on the trampoline and had to miss some of the fun during Spring Equinox celebrations. Posted by Hello

Max fire wood at Council Bluff trail build Posted by Hello

Max and William left a giant arrow to tell our hiking partners that we had gone a different direction on the trail. Posted by Hello

Max and William volunteered at Ronald McDonald House and packaged cookies for major contributors Posted by Hello

Monday, May 16, 2005

One of Max's service projects

One of Max's service projects is donating his hair to Locks Of Love http://www.locksoflove.org/ this non-profit group collects hair 10 inches long or longer and makes wigs for children suffering from long-term medical hair loss. Max has been growing his hair out longer than any of us can remember. I've even cut it at least once a year for the past 4 years just to get rid of 3-5 inches of truly fried beach bleached hair. We can't imagine what he'll look like without long hair, but years ago he said he was going to donate his hair because;

"People think I'm a girl because I have long hair and that used to upset me, but I think it's harder for a girl to NOT have hair. If a girl can live without hair I can live with the teasing until my hair is long enough to donate"

Now if that doesn't make you just about qvell, nothing will! His hair has been long enough for quite a while, but he also wanted to make this coincide with his Bar Mitzvah. He thinks he's going to get it cut off a week before the event. We've told him he doesn't have to cut it if he doesn't want to at the last minute. He can always make a financial contribution instead. We just found Fantastic Sam's has some colored bracelets and we'll be including them for the guests. We had briefly thought of having T-shirts "Max gave 12 inches at his bar mitzvah", but that didn't come out like we'd hoped so we scrapped it.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Do-it-yourself Bar Mitzvah is possible!

In the ensuing months I have consulted multiple authorities from conservative, reform, reconstructionist and secular humanist branches of Judaism. The consensus in this family is that a bar mitzvah happens whether you have an aliah or not. Max is a wonderful, quiet, introverted individual and has always wanted a havdallah bar mitzvah. He shall have one! We have picked and gleened multiple pieces of bar mitzvah and havdalah ceremonies to create the one he will be using. I will publish it in it's entirety for everyone to benefit from AFTER his bar mitzvah (so the suprise is still there for those of you that attend)

We've decided the theme will still be outdoors/backpacking/trail buiding and I have agreed to a menu that is less than I'd like, but fits the theme; hot dogs and hamburgers! The ceremony will start about 5 and the entire family will lead it with max having about 1/3 of the speaking parts then he will lead the Havdalah ceremony himself. We will finish with a low-key party. We'll have some funny games for kids to do and shmoozing area for adults. We're keeping the guest list to under 100 and having this entire thing at a local nature center www.memphismuseums.org/nature.htm so the nature theme is around us in the comfort of air conditioning and indoor plumbing!

I've designed several invitations with the help of MS publisher, though I'd hoped to make it in adobe photoshop, but given up in frustration. Max picked one and we'll print it ourselves. He's been given a checking account to manage the budget for this entire thing, from the postage to the party gifts. We're asking close friends to help out by bringing some food and help decorate earlier in the day on the day of the actual party. It seems kind of cheeky, but we're not a wealthy family with a budget to make this on par with many bar mitzvahs we've attended. We want this to be a meaningful marker of this important transition in Max's life, not a budget breaker, marriage wrecker event (which so many bar mitzvahs are!)

Non-traditional bar mitzvahs without synagogue affiliation are not easy. It requires organization and determination, but it can be done and we ARE doing it! Different doesn't mean less than, it means different. We're making this meaningful bar mitzvah to match our beliefs, eclectic family and friends and our bar mitzvah boy. For some it's sacrilige. Bar mitzvahs should include the child in the community, bring the mitzvah to the community on it's own terms and put the child into existing services. Our children do not have the benefit of existing services because our narrow-minded conversative rabbi (interim, I might add) has excluded them from the synagogue. They are strong enough to know they are Jewish without a synaoguge. This service is Jewish and without the blessings or supervision of a local rabbi. We remain deeply grateful to the rabbis who have shared their resources, services and reasonings on our son's bar mitzvah. Without them it would have been much more difficult.

Secular bar/bat mizvah: http://heh.pl/&eq
Humanistic bar mitzvah: http://heh.pl/&er
and more: http://bethchai.org/MitzvahPage.html

Next I'll explore my son's service project; building hiking trail and volunteering as a part of tikkun olam and bal tashchit.