Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Good Friends, Good Hiking and an Epic Simcha

Man, what a weekend.

It started with a delicious lunch with my college buddy Jen in NYC. She works in Times Square, and after lunch, we took a stroll through the surrounding streets. I've been to the area a number of times now, but I still stand in amazement at the diversity and energy in the area.

After lunch, we made our way to White Plains, NY, where we would be celebrating Ariella's Bat Mitzvah! This was a momentous occasion for us, as this was the Bat Mitzvah of the daughter of Shira's oldest friend. Literally, oldest friend (they've known each other since they were born). Shabbat Morning, Ariella just killed it. She lead services, read from the Torah and did a masterful job with her Haftarah. Services were held at Bet Am Shalom, a Reconstructionist shul. I can't recall ever having attended a Reconstructionist service, and I have to admit I was expecting it to be wildly different from the Conservative shul I attend. Instead, I found that the services were nearly an exact match.

Ariella and Keith, both of whom spoke about the weekly Torah portion, had an additional challenge to deal with. Mainly that the topic of the reading was the story of Tamar. As Keith deftly put it, the story of Tamar has less in common with the folksy bible stories you may recall, and more in common with Game of Thrones (and I don't even watch Game of Thrones). Both of them found powerful lessons in this R-rated story.

The Rabbi who conducted Ariella's Bat Miztvah, not only officiated at Becky and Keith's wedding, but officiated at Becky's Bat Mitzvah. With all four grandparents in attendance, and with a set of great grandparents there, one couldn't help but be amazed at the connections on display in front of us. Truly, l'dor v'dor.

Saturday night, we tore up the dance floor and partied as best as a bunch of old folks could (though, can you really call yourself old when Ariella's great-grandparents, who have been married for *74 years* were in attendance?). Mostly we couldn't stop being amazed how the itty bitty bundle of joy we still remember had turned into the young woman in front of us, dancing with her friends. The night, like the service earlier in the day, was just perfect.

As I told Becky, if we ever get a foster placement that needs a Bar/Bat Miztvah planned, our first phone call is going to be to her. What an amazing job she did!

Sunday morning, the responsible thing to do would have been to pack up and head home. But thanks to a friendly salesman at Westchester Road Runner, I had got my hands on a map of the Rockefeller State Park Preserve. The trails were just too enticing not to explore. And so with a couple of inches of snow on the ground, we made our way through this winter wonderland. Sure, it was 35°F, but the perfect snow covered scenery more than made up for the chill in the air.

After a couple of hours of hiking, it was time to call it a trip. I definitely feel like there's more to explore at the Preserve, so I'll be lobbying to get back if we find ourselves in the area.

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