Be honest—when you think of a temple sisterhood, do you think of your grandmother, mahjong and coffee cake? Um, I might have.
While planning my son’s bar mitzvah last year (no, I still have not printed out any photos—see to do list), I met with the lovely woman who runs the kitchen committee and is responsible for the congregation’s kiddush luncheon. I was focused on what to order, how much, normal pre-celebration anxiety. She, of course, was relaxed, chatty and supportive. She had a form, she walked me through it and all seemed fine. As I did many times during the process, I was very thankful that the temple knew what they were doing.
This woman is also the president of the temple’s sisterhood. And in the course of the conversation mentioned that it would be nice if more people came to the events and got involved. So when Sukkot rolled around, I went to the sisterhood’s Soup in the Sukkah event. Not to be confused with the kids’ Pizza in the Hut event. Catchy names are obviously the key to a great event when you are eating outside.
Here’s the thing—I am all about sisterhood. The sisters who I marched with in Washington, D.C., last January with the funny pink hats. The sisters who posted “me, too” on Facebook this week. The sisters who I shared a house with in college (no, not sorority!) and saw last weekend after a decade that passed in a blink. And the sisters in my neighborhood who have known me since my oldest was born, who drive my kids when I cannot possibly be in two or three places at once, who loan me an extra soup pot when I need to make double matzoh ball soups, who I write in as my emergency contacts on all camp and school forms. It has taken me a while, but I can now ask for help, usually. And I feel so comfortable with the community in our town.
I confess: Temple has always felt a tiny bit like middle school, and not the good parts. I worry about what I’m wearing, who I will sit with and if I will “faux pas” in front of everyone. And being me, since I do not know folks, I stay away so I cannot possibly get to know them. This got a lot better when we went on the temple’s trip to Israel last February and had our son’s bar mitzvah in March. I found a new sisterhood of b’nei mitzvah moms. Women who talk each other down from the emotional ledge of planning a big event, make the centerpieces you swore you did not need (when you decide the week before the event that you do actually), and work all night to make your luncheon food when the catering order is messed up.
Yes, it happened to me. There was a mistake with our kiddush luncheon catering order and the sisterhood women ran around buying everything on a Friday afternoon and somehow miraculously got it all cooked and ready. If that is not the definition of sisterhood…. It is now a funny story that we can all laugh about while eating soup in a sukkah, but oy vey, it easily might not have been.
So here I sit, at Hebrew College, waiting for my son to finish his session with Gateways and thinking about my sisters at our temple. And I vow that next year, I am volunteering to make one of the soups for the dinner in the sukkah. It is the absolute least I can do for this sisterhood.