I did a post after Yom Kippur a couple of months ago that contained a couple of mental snapshots from the day. Today, the person who stood up on the bimah and gave the announcements and guidelines for today’s service mentioned that, except for the official photographer who the family hired to capture the day, those who were there for worship services were not allowed to use cameras (of course I knew that already), but should instead capture memories of the service mentally, for keeps. Naturally I’ve done this all along, but it suddenly occurred to me that when I don’t have a camera, I really am good at taking mental pictures. Here are some more for you, from today’s events.

1. We arrived at the temple a little early for once, and we were able to choose our seats and watch the entire sanctuary fill up with people. As our friends (the family of the Bat Mitzvah) moved to the east coast earlier this year and flew “home” for this weekend so their daughter could mark this major milestone surrounded by the community she has grown up with, it warmed my heart to see so many people there to support the family, and Allie.

2. There is a beautiful piece of the Bat (or Bar) Mitzvah service during which the Torah is removed from the ark and literally passed from grandparents, to parents, to the Bat Mitzvah. It symbolizes the passing down of Jewish traditions, knowledge, and values from generation to generation. This part of the service always makes me teary-eyed, but today I thought I was going to burst out crying. When the grandparents and parents were called up to do this, my friend Debbie–Allie’s mom–helped her parents (Allie’s grandparents) up to the bimah and stood behind Allie. Debbie’s dad was in between Debbie and Debbie’s mom, and he put one of his arms around each one. Debbie’s husband was on her other side, and they held hands while the Torah passing was going on. The love was completely oozing all over the place, and I was a mess. I was so happy for my friend in that moment…and there were many more moments like that afterwards.

3. I watched Allie, who suddenly looks and sounds so much more grown up than when I saw her last, completely dazzle a sanctuary full of people with her total preparedness for today. She was confident, clear-speaking (and clear-singing), and she just did such a great job that I was weepy about that, too. She really did her entire family–and most importantly, herself–proud today. It was stellar. As she carried the Torah around the sanctuary followed by her family, the pride and joy that was all over their faces was reflected back onto them by the rest of us. It was such a wonderful way to enjoy the service, feeling at one with everyone else in our community.

4. Though the service is the most important part of the day by far, there was a reception/party as well, and those are always fun. One of the things that is great about being fairly involved at my temple and having lots of friends there is that we usually get invited to one or two simchas each year. Though they are made up of the same basic pieces, they all end up being very different because of the personal touches that are always thrown in. Allie and family made an entrance into the room that was worthy of something the Chicago Bulls would get. Allie’s dad read her a poem made up of song titles by her favorite artists. It was really, really sweet. Allie’s brother read his own poem that was great in that sibling humor kind of way, and Debbie made a short speech that left me weepy AGAIN. (darn her!) Like I said, love oozed.

5. I always keep my fingers crossed when I go to a reception that the DJ plays at least one of the following dances:

~The Cha Cha Slide
~The Cupid Shuffle
~The Electric Slide

Well, today I felt like I won the lottery. The party got started for me when, right after the family was introduced, the DJ had everyone fill the dance floor and jump around to the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Got a Feeling”, which always drives me nuts because of that “Mazel Tov!” line, but obviously here it was in the right context. Right after that song was over, the DJ played the Cupid Shuffle*. Yay! After we ate, not only did they play the Electric Slide** AND the Cha Cha Slide***, but they also squeezed in the Chicken Dance****, the Twist*****, and a dance medley, which were silly, fun bonuses. To top things off? Lady Gaga. “Poker Face” came on and I thought I would go ballistic******. I had such a great time dancing with my friends today; it was just what I needed.

As good parties always do, this one flew by. I had to say goodbye to Debbie, which was hard, and we promised to iChat very soon. Sharing this day with her family will be a mental snapshot that will stick with me for a long time to come.

*Debbie actually taught me the Cupid Shuffle at the younger boy’s Bar Mitzvah!
**When the Electric Slide came on, just about everyone under nineteen left the dance floor. More room for us old fogies, I guess!
***I rocked the Cha Cha Slide. Seriously.
****The Chicken Dance is so silly, but always a great time.
*****I think my waist might be sore later on.
******I’m not a very good dancer when I don’t have choreography; I hope my friends weren’t paying attention.