Here's how it happens....
Four years ago, a year after we moved into our neighborhood, I figured I was "established" enough to organize a women's reading. My biggest challenge would be finding a place to do it. My house was a disaster zone (still piled high with boxes from moving), so there was no way I could host.
I had no idea who, in this open, but relatively conservative, neighborhood, would be willing to host.
Then, I mentioned it to the woman (IA) who, at that time, was organizing our Shabbat women's shiurim (classes). To my surprise, she was totally into it and offered to host. She even owned a Megillah!!
She also suggested that we all bring something light to eat and hang around afterwards to sing and eat. I thought that might be overly ambitious, but she was so excited about the idea that I had to agree.
That first year, I was worried that no one would show up, besides the three of us: our host, my friend (TS) who would be reading most of the Megillah (everything, but the one chapter I read), and me.
I need not have worried. About 12 women showed up!!
The next year, we decided to do it again. The second year, my friend (TS), read the entire Megillah. I LOVE her reading! She is precise, acts out the parts (with voices) and is diligent about reading correctly. She now has a PhD in Lashon (Hebrew Language), which she was working on then; she wrote her doctoral thesis on Ta'amei HaMikra (cantillation or trope). So, having her read for us is always a real treat!
The third year, our lovely hostess could not host us.
I did not know what to do. I could not find another enthusiastic host.
In the end, I realized if I wanted a local women's Megillah reading, I would have to host it.
I was so anxious about both the change in location and the state of my home. I had a bit more energy, but not enough.
My eldest daughter saved the day! She was highly motivated and, quite literally, transformed our apartment. (Much of the clutter was still there, but so cleverly camouflaged!)
On Purim night, my living room was packed! We had to set up extra chairs in our dining room!
For the third year in a row, my good friend (TS) read the Megillah for us.
Doing something three times is a "chazakah" (establishes a pattern). I felt like we could do this forever.
Then, our phenomenal reader (TS), was offered a post-doc in Toronto!!
So, this year, I had to find other readers.
I had wanted to try to involve as many women as possible in the reading. In the end, I only had 4 readers, and one dropped out at the last moment. I did not have enough time or energy to look for more readers. I was not even certain I even enough of a desire, or the motivation, to get it together this year.
I did not know, until last Friday (two days ago), whether I could pull this off.
I would have not been able to do it without two other phenomenal readers, ABC and RJ, who are each reading 4-5 chapters! Both of these women are also very precise in their readings, and I know I can count on them to read well!
Since I was focused on finding readers, I never bothered to find an alternative host.
I had mixed opinions about hosting this year.
On the one hand, it is best to have a permanent place, so people know where to go. I would love my home to be that place.
On the other hand, our house is still not put together. I had really wanted to get it together (at least in the "public" zones) for Purim, but it just did not happen. To make matters worse, we just got a new (used) fridge, but we have not yet sold the old one, so we currently have two refrigerators in our kitchen!
When it came down to making a decision, it was "my place" or "no place."
So, what could I do?
"What would you do, if your mother asked you?"*
You are welcome to join us!! (women/girls only) The more, the merrier!!
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism,
* Do you know who asked this question?? Just answer "yes" or "no." There are surprises yet to come!!
Reflecting on This Succot
3 hours ago