One of the bonuses of my second marriage is the new family I acquired. Stu has four children and they have between them nine children. I have three children and four (and a half, since Josh’s wife, Tracey, is expecting) grandchildren, so we have multiple celebrations. This past weekend was one of those. Ben Broner, the youngest son of Stu’s daughter Mimi and her husband Jim, who live in Manhattan, celebrated Ben’s Bar Mitzvah, a religious ceremony for boys in their 13th year.
Ben had prepared for many months, studying his Torah portion to be recited at the Bar Mitzvah.
The event was actually a weekend of celebration and Stu’s sons and their children who live out of town flew in. It was the gathering of the clan!
The celebrations began Friday night with an informal dinner for all the out-of-town guests. Jim’s family and all their friends came from Michigan, and we all gathered at a pub on the Upper East Side.
There was a little drama when Stu went to get his Burberry raincoat at the end of the evening and found a similar one but five sizes smaller. Fortunately it had stopped raining and the owner of the pub gave us his cell phone number and promised to follow up.
Ironically, at the service the next day, we discovered it was his daughter Eve who had taken it mistakenly and had just put it over her arm, realizing it wasn’t hers when she tried wearing it that morning, so the mystery was solved and the raincoat retrieved.
The Broners worship with a unique congregation that is part of the Temple of Universal Judaism, Congregation Da’at Elohim. The group meets for prayers at a majestic Protestant church on Park Avenue. We saw no crosses and the ark holding the Torahs is brought out for the services. The congregation has made the facility their home for years and I felt it was a warm, inviting space encouraging prayer.
Ben, as we expected, perfectly performed the prayers of our ancestors. I was given the honor, along with his Broner grandma, Lil, of putting on Ben’s tallis (a religious prayer shawl), bought for him by his two grandpas. I felt so full of joy for him that I thought I’d cry as I went up the steps looking at his smiling relaxed face. He is a special person who, at his tender age, has already shown us his caring, intelligence, his great friendships, excellence in sports, respect for his parents and a loving nature.
An added bonus was that my daughter, Samantha, and her children Blake and Morgan, were also included, as were my son Josh and his Tracey. Blake, my beloved six year old (this week), came to sit with me during the ceremony. I was amazed at how engaged he was and especially happy that he sat on my lap taking everything in.
Since Ben was sitting on the bema (stage) the whole time, his big brothers Sam and Zachary sat in front of me. Whenever we stood up for a prayer they gave Blake a high five and made my little one feel 10 feet tall!
The celebration had been planned for two years and yet it all went by so quickly!
On Saturday night we continued the festivities at the Bryant Park Grill. I had already been to the beautiful restaurant just behind the Fifth Avenue Library at 40th Street. The park runs from Fifth to Sixth Avenues and has become a happening place with ice skating and boutiques in glass “houses.”
We took over the whole place and we danced the night away. Since there were at least a dozen young boys Mimi had a basketball game set up next to a make-up artist. The children in attendance were enthralled and engaged for hours. Mimi is the best party planner.
The weekend ended with a beautiful, bountiful brunch on Sunday at her home. Ironically the caterers were old friends from Terrace on the Park and Towers on the Green at North Shore Towers.
Exhausted but joyous we made our way home, having stayed at a hotel for the weekend. Our partying was complete but Ben had a party for 100 of his best friends Sunday evening — no adults allowed!
The joyous weekend gave us many memories of precious moments to relish in the days ahead.