I had prepared for the hardest test ever. I prepared to answer the 13 principles of faith from Rambam, the 10 commandments as categories for the other 613 mitzvot. I knew the 39 categories of work prohibited on shabbat that mirror the tasks of the temple, the 3 pilgram holidays Sukkot, Shavuot, Pessah and why we don’t pilgrim to Jerusalem anymore. I prepared to list all the months of the Hebrew calendar, and the names of the 3 prayers each day, and the laws of yom tov, and to list the yom tov days, to explain Tisha B’Av and the 5 calamities, to talk about Pessah, Rosh hashana, Yom Kippur, Purim, Hannukkah, to list the 2 major fast days and the 4 minor ones, to explain the laws of family purity and what shiva is and shloshim.
I prepared all month, I re-read everything I had already read. I researched as much as i could so that I wouldn’t embarrass my rabbi. I didn’t sleep, my back hurt and I was stressed so much that the night before I had to be at the mikvah at 8:30 am I woke up every half hour to an hour checking the clock 3 am, 4 am, 4:30, 5 am, 5:45, 6 am, 6:30 I was up. Wake up Shiyara we have to go!
The crazy thing is that I liked studying. I loved it. I am such a nerd.
We waited outside of the mikvah 30 minutes early…sometimes it’s good to be neurotic. The rabbis gathered and there was a rabbi of Moroccan origin and they asked us questions that had my voice shaking. I am surprised I remembered my own name.
We went to the changing room. The lady said when we were finished to ring the bell. We showered again after showering twice the night before and removing all make up and nail polish and jewelry. The lady Gitta came for us and took us into the mikvah. I removed everything and I went into the water. I went to the deep end and dunked in then I said the prayer. The door was cracked where the rabbis stood outside to hear my voice. I dunked again and when I came up the lady called Kosher for me. I almost cried. I took shiyara in next and said the prayer for her and then had to let her go under by herself. I told her to take a breath and not to breathe. She was happy to oblige. And I let her go under and saw just a shape and distant shadow under the water. The lady called kosher and I grabbed her. She didn’t cry. She wasn’t afraid. She loved it and asked if she could come everyday. The lady joked that it would have to be until her wedding and the rabbi said it would be too expensive.
We dressed and I covered my hair and paid the mikvah lady for her time and help. She gave us a hug. My rabbi took no money from me. Nothing. And he took me out for breakfast with Shiyara and didn’t let me pay a single thing. He’s amazing.
I got a certificate in preview of an actual one that is going to be sent to my address in Morocco. I was elated and humbled and relieved and excited and had all those emotions in me so what better way then to go to the Natural History Museum across the street to see the exhibits and play again in water outside where the kids ran through the water and it was the most fun I have had ever with Shiyara. Who knew it could so much fun.