Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"King's Kafé": A Maven-style Bar Mitzvah in Wisconsin

By Marge Eiseman

Storah On The Road

I've finally come down enough to write about the Storahtelling experience of my son Zach's Bar Mitzvah on Sept. 6, 2008, for Parashat Shoftim at Congregation Sinai in Milwaukee. From the moment I walked out from behind the lectern with the bright red "King's Kafé" sign in hand, we had their total attention!

As I introduced myself as Huldah, the waitress at the King's Kafé, I mentioned that we have lively debates -- such as the one going on at Table Two. There were two kings, Solomon and Josaiah (my sons Jona and Zach), and they were arguing about Justice and the consequences of their actions. Remniscent of an old Yiddish folktale, they brought their dilemma to a Levitial Priest (Jona's twin, Jacob) who declared that each was right, and that the law was on their side. Overhearing that, I asked, "Wait, how can they both be right?" And my point was well-taken. We obviously needed to take it up with the rabbi! Rabbi Cohen stepped in, and introduced Storahtelling, the concept of the Maven and Meturgeman, and then facilliated the whole Torah ritual.

So began the Seder Kriyyat HaTorah (Order of Reading Torah), which was now the high point of this Bar Mitzvah on an otherwise normal Shabbat morning in a Reform congregation. We picked up the characters at the 5th and 6th aliyah, and found the kings in conflict again about the biblical limits that are written into Deuteronomy 17:14-17 and then found our young king writing his own scroll with the help of the Levitical Priest (Deut. 17:18-20).

I heard from the parents of Zach's classmates that "this was not a regular bar mitzvah -- it was cool!" and friends asked when the next Storahtelling could take place.

Having just finished the Maven Training in July, it was a gutsy move to offer to do this, but it was fantastic! Big thanks to Jake Goodman for his assistance and advice; to Terri Schuster for help with translation, and to Jona for help writing the script (which should be in the Storahtelling archive). I only have one regret, that this was my last son to become a Bar Mitzvah!

1 comment:

  1. I was privileged to be part of the congregation that Shabbat morning. One great part of the morning that Marge didn't mention was that she introduced an entirely interactive element. As Hulda, she asked a question of the congregation and there then ensued a lively conversation as numerous congregants responded. Kol HaKavod!