Last night I was cuddling Zella and noticed that her head smelled really nice. Like the barest flowery hint of the shampoos and lotions of a dozen people. It was just the right ending to a lovely day where Zella was passed from relative to friend to relative to friend, smiling and dozing and occasionally letting out the tiniest of wails.
It was Zella’s Simchat Bat, a celebration of our daughter, welcoming her into our family and the Jewish community. Unlike Ezra’s bris, which was run by a religious professional and followed a pretty set script and involved a frightening medical procedure, we created Zella’s ceremony ourselves and there was no blood involved. We washed her feet, a gesture meant to recall the biblical Sarah’s method of welcoming guests into her home, said the barest of ceremonial Hebrew (enough for me, but not too much for Sandy, a fine balance), and invited her four grandparents to bless her. We gave her a Hebrew name, Golda Tzipora: Golda for her great-grandmother Gizela and her great-great Grandmother Golda, and Tzipora, a Hebrew name we like that means bird.
After the ceremony, Zella coasted on a wave of friendly arms while a mass of friends and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins ate bagels and toasted with shots of slivovitz, and Ezra joined an army of small friends and cousins stomping around at what I liked to think of as a separate, floor-level party. The day was perfect, and the immense help of so many people (especially cousin Caroline, going the extra mile to make things special for our poor second child) made it so that our house is only in slight disarray after hosting a brunch for sixty people, about a quarter of them under the age of eleven. And who could complain about disarray in the form of piles of new children’s books, vases full of purple tulips, and a lot of leftover coffeecake?