A Family Occasion
Yesterday I went to 2 family celebrations: the first was a form of orthodox Jewish cocktail party, normally after the religious service called a kiddish, given by my niece to celebrate her latest child and a smaller family lunch given by the wife of my nephew. A big difference between Gentiles and Jewish people in entertaining is that the former will normally offer you an alcoholic drink and the latter food. True to form there were cakes and jellies for the 50 kiddies and big spread for the adults at the kiddish but only 2 bottles of Scotch and 2 jugs of Pimms. Most of the adult men and women were overweight and from the amount of food available you can see why. It’s a a community based on family, one of the strengths of Jewish life. I wondered therefore as a single man arriving with a gentile how I would be received and it was with great warmth; whatever my life style I am family.
Orthodox Jews do not travel in motorised transport on the Sabbath but my companion had mobility problems with a painful back so my driver drove us discreetly to the house of my nephew nearby. He is a traveling rabbi involved in holocaust education and missions, which takes him abroad as he was on this occasion. I was delighted to be present to develop my relationship with my 9 grand nephews and nieces.The most spirited was one who had been born deaf requiring 2 implants. The trauma of these operations as a baby must be unimaginable but as often in life produced a spirited if excitable child. The two daughters of my nephew were rather feminine and soft and the eldest was his own man as he had formed his own political party DRIP, the DR Independence party to which I immediately subscribed. One aspect of a gathering of kids which always vexes me is the noise level. At the kiddish I could hardly hear myself or anyone else and the lunch the decibel level was high. We did not start eating till 2-45 – roughly the time our driver was set to drive us back to Sussex. I received no timings probably because there were none. Nonetheless I came away with a warm feeling of belonging in my heart. Uncle Bob may be different and we don’t quite understand him but he is our slightly maverick uncle. Perhaps in time they may even veer towards my life style and values, or more accurately lack of them.
As I looked down the table at 9 children aged from 11 to 3 months, I wondered what sort of world they would inhabit. Taking 6 as the mean age, my parents would have been born in the Great Depression and 10 years later experienced the Second World War. As Jewish people they would have been concerned to witness 4 wars in Israel. I was born in 1954, 2 years before Suez but by 1960 the Cold War was in swing. Suez would probably be more momentous than leaving the EU but both will be game changers. Everyone round the table who could vote were for staying but there was some estimation of Boris Johnson as future PM. My view is that those who voted for Brexit have let the young and next generation down and much was made of stuffy old farts with dogmatic views of anti-immigration and Europhobia speaking for them.