The Cake I’m Making for my Daughter’s High-School Graduation
This month, my oldest daughter, Hadas, is graduating from high school. And in honor of her graduation, her high school invited all the parents, girls, and faculty up to Beit El to attend a Shabbaton together next week.
This has been a dream of a high school for Hadas, who has made so many dear friends and learned so much and grown up into such a lovely young woman over the last 4 years. But among the parents of students, Josh and I really don’t fit in.
There are very few other parents there who were born outside of Israel, and close to none who are baalei teshuva. Religiously, I don’t fully fit in anywhere (or to be more exact, I fit in many places, and therefore nowhere), but at this high school, which represents a very specific sector of the right-wing of the National Religious/Chardal community, my Weisberg out-of-the-boxness feels especially pronounced.
Yesterday the high school sent out an email to all the parents requesting that each mother prepare an “uga mefaneket” for the graduation Shabbaton– a special cake to “spoil” the girls. And as I read those words, I felt my stomach fall into my toes… I almost never bake, but when absolutely necessary, I prepare the most basic kind of stuff. The simplest white cake from Spice and Spirit, frosted with chocolate spread and sprinkles for a birthday. I wouldn’t even know how to do mefaneket if I tried…
And I imagined next Shabbat, all the other Israeli mothers in their regal, layered headscarves that make my neck ache, swooping in with one cake more mefaneket than the next. And then my cake, which (thankfully) got squished on the busride up, so none of the other mothers could see my white cake frosted with chocolate spread and colored sprinkles.
On the Friday morning before Shavuot I went on a walk around the block to get some air, and I saw a mother in her thirties coming my way. She was driving along the side of the street in a motorized wheelchair, a smiling toddler balanced on each leg as she drove along.
Seeing her, my eyes welled up with tears. Thinking of this mother who couldn’t walk, but who took a weakness, an inability, and chose to focus on what she can do rather than on what she can’t. And I prayed I should learn how to do the same.