Return engagement anyone?

Years ago, in Montreal, I went to an astrologer who told me I was an old soul, that this wasn’t my first life. Although I’m certainly no expert — not even close — and can’t even say I’ve done a lot of reading, or thinking, about reincarnation, it does interest me.

As a subject it came up many times when I was in India — especially in Varanasi — the spiritual capital of India.

It was there I learned that in Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism, Continue reading

A real hodge podge …

Do you ever think about who lives in your neighbourhood — not just your closest neighbours, but even those who live blocks and blocks away.  I can’t neighbourhoodsay I do, but today’s WordPress Daily Prompt has given me pause.

“Every city and town contains people of different classes:  rich, poor, and somewhere in between.  What’s it like where you live?  If it’s difficult for you to discern and describe the different types of classes in your locale, describe what it was like where you grew up — was it swimming pools and movie stars, industrial and working class, somewhere in between or something completely different?”

I live in an area of downtown Toronto called the Annex; and I’m happy to say it is truly a mixed bag. Here you’ll find it all.  Students, young families, singles, seniors, gays, straights and bisexuals, working class, white collar, professionals, professors, not-for-profit workers, creatives, every race, Continue reading

Day 69. Special Ceremonies

Yesterday I wrote that I was on my way to Kingston, Ontario for a family ‘do’.  It’s my cousin’s daughter’s bat mitzvah, which is this morning.  I’ll be heading over to the synagogue, shortly.  Which means I won’t be able to tell you how she did.  I have no doubts that she’ll be terrific.  She’s a great kid.  A wonderful, loving, bright girl who works and studies hard.  She’s always done well in school, and continues to.  So no worries for her, for today.

While Jewish boys have to have a bar mitzvah when they turn thirteen, it’s not a ‘must for girls.  Not a hard and fast rule. I never had one.  They weren’t all that fashionable back then, not that I would have paid attention to that.  If I’d wanted one, I would have said so.  I didn’t.  But it is much more common now. The other difference is,  girls have their bat mitzvahs at twelve.  I have no idea why.

That they have them at all is quite a break in tradition, actually. Jewish women have always been prohibited from participating directly in religious ceremonies.  But I guess there must have been some militant females in the late 19th century (early feminists), because many Jewish communities began commemorating girls turning twelve, with a ceremony.  A bat mitzvah.

The first in recorded history took place in the United States, in 1922, when Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan performed the ceremony for his daughter, Judith; and she was allowed to read from the Torah.  And while this didn’t come close to the complexity of a bar mitzvah, it is significant none the less, because it Continue reading