The iconic song, “Sunrise, Sunset,” from Fiddler on the Roof, evokes the deep feelings parents have regarding marrying off their children.
Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don’t remember growing older,
When did they?
When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn’t it yesterday when they were small?
This Motzei Shabbat, my wife Joan and I will marry off our “baby” daughter, Talia, to a wonderful young man, Corey. “Is this the little girl I carried?… Wasn’t it yesterday that she was small?”
It feels as if it were yesterday that she was small. It reminds me of the saying that all parents of young children should heed: “The days are long, but the years are short!”
I have often asked myself, what would it feel like when the time came to walk my baby girl down the aisle to stand underneath the Huppah? The image and emotions are so powerful. I had this honor when we walked our younger son to Huppah – would it feel differently this time?
I remember Talia’s Simhat Bat [baby naming] as if it were yesterday. The traditional blessing we recited was filled with such hope and expectation. Holding a newborn baby, safe and snuggled in our arms, we knew in our hearts that this was just for a moment. As parents, we pray at that moment that we should merit to raise our child to a life of Torah [Jewish learning], Huppah [the wedding canopy], and Ma’asim Tovim [good deeds]. Now, here we are, having reached the occasion of Huppah.
It is our job to teach our children to become independent individuals, to learn to spread their wings and ultimately to fly off and build their own lives. There is, however, an important caveat: No matter how independent a grown child becomes, each one still needs anchors – and that is the significance of raising a child.
Our children grow and leave the nest, yet we pray that they are still attached to something beyond themselves – a family, a people, a history, a heritage, a destiny, and a community. All this helps to make up the identity of our children that we want them to carry forward. We encourage our children to chart their own lives, create who they will become and follow their dreams, yet we also pray that a life of Torah, Huppah, and Ma’asim Tovim will anchor them and keep them closely connected to family and the Jewish people.
That is our dream as young parents.
Walking down the aisle to Huppah, our daughter Talia will join Corey and in front of friends, family and all of Israel, declare her love and commitment to Corey, and Corey to her. The sanctity of that moment will be expressed in the hope and excitement that they now will build their own Jewish home, bringing our heritage, traditions, and values with them, and claiming their place in being part of our common destiny. Just as we raised her in a loving Jewish home, we ask for the Brakhah [blessing] to live and watch Corey and Talia build their own, loving Jewish home and live their lives filled with Ma’asim Tovim.
I am excited to see her dressed as a bride and I will cherish every moment walking her down the aisle, privileged to be escorting her to Huppah, ready to commit to Corey and begin her next sacred journey.
At this moment, I am also thinking of you, our Schechter parents, and with a full heart, I wish the same for each of you someday. You are already on this journey. By sending your children to Schechter you are raising them for a life of Torah and Ma’asim Tovim. My prayer for you is that you are also blessed to raise them to Huppah as well. For now, enjoy this time raising your children and remember, while the days are long, remember to keep in mind that the years are short! For, I can tell you, I don’t remember growing older, when did they?