In 1995, when my husband and I married, I remember dancing to the hora. At some point, someone brought out two chairs. As the traditional music played, we sat down as friends and family members held the legs of our chairs and raised us gently into the air, turned us in circles, together, my new husband and me. I remember staring at my husband from my chair. Noticing his wedding ring glinting on his finger, how foreign it looked.
Over the last several years, I’ve been to a lot more bar and bat mitzvahs than weddings. I’ve danced the hora at least nineteen-hundred forty-six bazillion times. To the uninitiated, the hora is a dance where everybody forms a circle and holds hands. You are supposed to step forward toward the right with the left foot, then follow with the right foot. The left foot is then supposed to be brought back, followed by the right foot. In my experience, almost no one dares to do the crisscross thing with their legs because dance floors are generally jammed so everyone mostly just goes around in circles.
At bar and bat mitzvahs, it is customary to raise the honoree, and sometimes his or her family members, on a chair during the hora.
The last time I sat in the chair was nearly seventeen years ago, when my husband and I were married.
Let me tell you something: the wedding hora is different from the b’nai mitzvah hora.
First of all, by definition, there are waaaaay more kids at a bar mitzvah than there usually are at a wedding.
I don’t think any of our friends had kids when we married so our wedding hora was pretty sedate.
During certain parts of the hora at my son’s bar mitzvah, I felt like I was in a mosh pit. All those circles going in all those directions. And then all that going in and going out. I was digging our DJ’s version of Hava Nagillah and feeling pleased that I was managing to move so easily in my four-inch heels when some kid gave me a pretty good elbow to the chin.
I wasn’t going to let a blow to the face ruin my night. In fact, I barely felt it.
As the mother of an only child, I knew I needed to pay attention. After all, my husband and I recognized this would be our one chance to experience everything. I watched friends pull a cushioned chair onto the dance floor. Surrounded by cheering friends and family members, Tech went first and made it look easy. He laughed and smiled as the strongest men in the room bounced him around in a circle.
“Hold on, Mom!” Tech warned as we traded places.
I now understand why some friends had warned me before the fact:
I don’t know who was holding the legs of my chair but who put all the tall guys on one side and all the short guys on the other? I was positively crooked. At one point, I bounced so high off my seat, I thought I was going to have an emergency landing.
Listen, I have no fear of being lifted by people who are scampered. I just wasn’t prepared for the “let’s-try-to-eject-the-momma-from-the-chair” thing that was happening beneath me.
This video is every Jewish mother’s nightmare:
Someone snapped this picture and posted it on Facebook.
Someone asked me: “What were you thinking about while you were up there?”
You wanna know know what I was thinking?
That I needed to keep my legs together like two tightly twisted vines.
Because there would be no “junk” showing at my son’s bar mitzvah.
Would I do it again?
In a heartbeat.
That night, I couldn’t stop smiling.
I am pretty sure I was radiating something close to pure joy.
All day, my son amazed me with his comport, his flexibility, and composure; I could have danced all night.
And once I got off that chair, I did.
What is the happiest dance you ever remember doing?