Last evening I attended three events: My son’s end-of-the-year party celebrating the completion of the book of Bereshith (Genesis), a get-together in a local cafe, and my book club.
The party was planned well, but overly ambitious. A choir made up of the four second-grade classes sang three songs. Then the children learning the recorder played two more songs.
The parents were seated at tables divided according to the twelve tribes. Each family had to fill in four pages, answering questions about what the children had learned. For the first exercise, a teacher held up an object related to an event in Bereshith. The children needed to write the name of the object, the midah, or positive trait, related to it, and the Torah portion it appeared in. We got into a debate over whether a striped cloth was Rivka’s (Tamar’s?) tzaif or Joseph’s coat of many colors.
A few parents from each class presented scenes from Bereshit for the children to guess. One group did the story of Abraham sending Hagar away, portraying Sarah as a jealous old hag and Hagar as a pitiful but beautiful young woman. We found it inappropriate.
Finally, each class performed a dance based a biblical dream. Readers may recall that last year my son refused to participate in the siddur party. This year he was excited to get the “starring” role of Jacob. His job was to walk around the stage for a bit and collect some “stones” to use as pillows. He then lay down and “slept” while the girls danced around a ladder—they weren’t actually allowed to go up and down.
My friends and I were treated to another “performance” as we sat at an outside café at the downtown midrechov plaza. The word midrechov is a cross between midrecha, sidewalk, and mid-rechov, or mid-street. I had nearly finished my glass of juice when a man of about 30 tiptoed over to our table and, with a flourish, removed the straw from my glass and walked quickly away.