Weekend in Florida

It was a good bat mitzvah. On Friday night, after dinner, the bat mitzvah girl spoke to mixed-seated-group in the Orthodox synagogue sanctuary, saying something meaningful about the weekly Torah portion, citing several medieval commentaries, and thanking her parents, friends, and teachers. Her mom gave a talk. The Rabbi ended his speech with the blessing that the girl should grow up to become “a leader in Israel.”
They didn’t say and do such things in Orthodox synagogues when I was bat mitvah age!
On Friday, we visited a small, beautiful reconsitituted wetland which holds storm waters and houses local creatures: ducks and herons and anhinga and swallows; turtles, frogs, and lounging alligators; citidwellers strolling on a boardwalk; young couples with children visiting grandma and grandpa; intent people with binoculars and the names of all the birds; intent people with military telescopes on tripods waiting for bobcats (they spotted one while we were there).
Had some travel-related misadventures involving lost rental car keys that ended well. The highlight was watching my parents cope with said misadventures with calmness, aplomb, assertiveness, creativity, and the occasional strategically effective tantrum in dealing with braindead people and processes at Budget Car Rental. My parents have matured tremendously in later adulthood.
Had a good time with various relatives, and returned to Austin without trouble (see airplane reading.)

4 thoughts on “Weekend in Florida”

  1. It IS nice to see change in Orthodox circles. Unfortunately it comes much too slowly and much too late. And of course the biggest obstacle to change is that once a certain degree of change is affected the core constituents no longer consider those that have accepted that change as Orthodox – by definition they’re trying to make Orthodoxy unchangeable (which was NOT the case till a few centuries ago!!!).
    There is an opening here for a whole line of discussion of the obstinacy of religions in general and Orthodox Judaism in particular, but as I’m digitally insecure and tend to avoid group-forming I’ll leave it at that.

  2. Too bad about Mark’s insecurity. I would have enjoyed hearing what he had to say. Imho, orthodoxy–whatever the religion–is one of humanity’s worst aberrations.
    As for your observation about your parents’ maturation, I wonder if it was inspired by Mark Twain’s comment–in his usual tongue-in-cheek fashion–that, as he moved into his twenties, he was amazed to discover how much smarter and mature his father became.

  3. You’re absolutely right, Tom, but I still find it difficult to specifically express it so harshly due to a lifetime of habit… inculcated habit.
    And while it is true that “religion is one of humanity’s worst aberrations” and that countless atrocities have been performed in the name of religion, it is also true that many atrocities have been performed with no relation to religion at all, so perhaps religion is just co-incidental to these events and not the prime cause.
    And while some individuals knowingly abuse religious beliefs for their own goals, most are actually well meaning, sincere, good, decent people… just blinded by a lifetime of indoctrination.

  4. Tom, the Twain quote doesn’t apply in this case. When my parents were younger, they were more likely to get quite stressed over this sort of misadventure. They really have matured over the course of my conscious lifetime. I’m proud of them. It gives me hope for the ability to learn important things well into adulthood.

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