The NY Times published this feature today on Cecelia Nealon-Shapiro (a lovable Chinese orphan with adoptive Jewish Parents) and her induction into what I often refer to as “The Tribe.”
For those who don’t know, I have long sought entry into the Tribe. I attend Passover Seder. I host many a Shabbat dinner. I make a mean apples and honey plate. I may or may not spend hours creepily lurking on J-Date (doesn’t hurt to look).
No matter what, though, I’m never really in.
But little Cece is.
Here’s the thing. It’s a beautiful story. She was but a tiny, unwanted, unloved babe without mother or milk in her homeland of China when the country sanctioned international adoption and she was scooped up by the Nealon-Shapiros. She has spent the last twelve years and seven months coming to terms with her unique ethnic identity, one that melds both an acquired history of a perpetually persecuted people and a personal history with the land that had to let her go. She’s done the work. She’s eaten the gefilte fish. She’s practiced the Hebrew. She’s found her Torah selection. She’s ordered the ying-and-yang yarmulkes for the party. I adore her.
The doesn’t change the fact that she basically taken the steam out of my plan to have the world’s first and most and only balls-out, dim sum/pho tai/egg rolls bat mitzvah celebrating the fresh adulthood of a jew-adjacent Vietnamese woman creeping towards thirty. The theme: skulls and polka dots. The decor – streamers and balloons. The entertainment – Blonde Redhead would perform! We’d kick open an 80-year old bottle of scotch!
I’ve had this thing planned out for some time. And I was going to submit my request for a Saturday at the temple but nobody called me back, and then I called them again, and then I missed their call when they called back, or something like that, and blah blah blah.
Now I fear my Mitvah is going to end up as a miserably small event in a dismal rec room: me, Rabbi Frankel, and three sad 13-year olds that didn’t get invited to any other bar(t) mitzvahs this year because they snuck a meal on Yom Kippur.
Sigh. Anyway. Congratulations, cutie pie. You deserve it. I wish you long life of bagels and self-loathing.
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