Monday, May 23, 2011

Suburbs of Our Discontent

As some of you who've been reading us for a while may remember, I am a true religious mongrel.

Most of the time this doesn't bother me. I figure that not being religiously committed is like having a Global Eurail Pass to visit any afterlife I want. Even if I'm only allowed to make out with a spirit in a Discoteque before boarding the train for the next stop. Metaphorically speaking.

But there are days, like this Saturday, when I get a glimpse into what it's like to belong to a religious community. My friend's son was being Bar Mitzvah-ed, and most of the people I knew there were the mainstream Protestants who also grew up with her in our Preppy summer community.

It's been thirty years since I went to Rebecca Lipman's Bat Mitzvah, so I'd forgotten how moving the ceremony is. Every family member participated; Matthew sung his Hebrew verses with sweet, geeky confidence; and then his parents stood up, and in front of God and everyone, told him how proud they were of him--all the things they admired about him, and how much they loved him. I turned to one of my friends sitting next to me and we both had the same thought: Can you imagine our WASP parents getting up in public and talking like this? ("Well, son. Job well done. Chin up. Punch and cookies for everyone in the Atrium.") Imagine the years of therapy we'd have saved with all of that verbalized love and support to lean on!

Of course, as Michelle reminded me when I shared this epiphany with her before seeing "Bridesmaids" last night (which I'm still laughing over, but that's for another post), it depends on your family. Shylock, after all, wasn't exactly a fount of support for Jessica. And talking about love (as Cordelia proved) can be vastly overrated.

But, whatever one's religion (or lack of it), it's great to see two parents doing it right.

Mazel Tov, Matthew.

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