What does a modern grandmother do in honor of her granddaughter’s bat mitzvah? Well, of course there’s the gift which must be special and meaningful, but beyond that, what can she do to symbolize the significance of this day in her granddaughter’s life.
While her grandfather will have words of torah to share with her, and in his gentle and eloquent way, he will welcome her to the congregation of Israel, her grandmother, will be just as proud, but in a more private way.
I will be there beaming with joy because I will be seeing her join the chain of women who carried on the traditions of our people. And because I want her to understand just how momentous her role is and how she fits into this grand chain, I am working on a PowerPoint presentation for her.
I have been combing through literally hundreds of pictures and finding those which tell the story I want her to hear. I see once again my mother and my father who would have loved to see this day. Through their pictures, they are invited to be a part of this celebration. I include pictures of my grandparents on both sides whose joy would be unbounded. I include pictures of my husband’s parents as adults and as children and I know how proud they would have been. I include people I have never met—my husband’s sister who passed away at age sixteen and his grandparents and great grandparents. I include pictures of my paternal great-grandmothers. I am overwhelmed with the sense of connectedness I feel with these people and with my realization that I have not let them down.
I look through the pictures seeing smiles and laughter and love. I remember the warmth of my father’s smile, the wit of my mother’s humor, the softness of my grandmothers’ arms, the brightness of my grandfathers’ eyes. I see my own daughter growing from infant to toddler to child, pre-teen, teen, young woman, wife, and mother.
And I am grateful.
Will Hadas appreciate this? I think she will. She is caring and sensitive. But if not now, she will later, and perhaps she will add these pictures to the gift she will give her granddaughter someday as she becomes yet another link in the chain.