Sunday, November 19, 2006

Game Fingers: A Bat-Mitzvah Series of Events

Game Fingers

What are game fingers? Game fingers are the ingrained habits your fingers come to learn due to having played a particular game, or a multitude of similar games, that require the same repetitive digit manipulation.

Go players have game fingers, for instance. There is a certain way of holding and placing a stone. I doubt they could just casually pick up a small stone on a beach without holding it "correctly".

I didn't realize that I had it until tonight.

Yet Another Bat-Mitzvah Story

My cousins Avi and Robin have six children, and this is their third bar/bat-mitzvah. They have an interesting tradition now for their children: projects.

Gather round, and I'll tell you.

For Rami's Bar-mitzvah, before we got to eat, Rami gave a speech about how it was important not only to "be" bar-mitzvahed, but to take the obligation seriously. And therefore, since his celebration was a few weeks before Passover, he decided to distribute several hundred containers of cleaning supplies to needy families.

All he needed was our help in putting them all together and packaging them. So saying, he revealed a side room where a dozen tables were laid out with cleaning supplies and buckets. The guests had to (they didn't have to, but most did anyway) take one item from each table and lug it out back to the waiting truck from Yad Eliezer. I made about forty odd trips.

For Sarit's bat mitzvah, the celebration was in a restaurant out in a remote location. It was before the school year started, so we all walked around this nature trail, collecting school supplies and returning with them to be loaded off to needy children, again through Yad Eliezer.

This time at least, no one had to leave their seats. For Eliora's bat-mitzvah, she had been collecting 10 agorot pieces from people for the past year or so. She traded them all for shekels, and gave a basket to each table. We had to assemble them all, 25 to each bag, 20 bags per table, and include a little note and a candy, to be sent as Hanukkah gelt to homeless children.

Here's where the game fingers come in.

In what game do you take hundreds of little circles (shekel pieces, in tonight's case) and count out batches of twenty-five at a time?


Yes, Puerto Rico, my game of games. I am so used to counting out the little colonists in Puerto Rico, it was disconcerting to feel my fingers fly so instinctively in counting out little coins the same way. And amusing, I suppose. Is there no end to what games can help you with?

For the record, the idea is to allow all of us to help participate in the mitzvah; they don't really need our help assembling all of this stuff. It took them longer to set it up to begin with. But the idea is that God is going to provide for his poor anyway, and we are given the privilege of being the ones to help out.

For their bar/bat-mitzvah, they also learn the Sefer Hinuch, do a nice speech, and so on.


It has been a long standing tradition of the Berlingers to bring a deck of cards to a celebration. I think it's because we were raised without proper manners. Something like that.

If you look at all of our wedding albums, each one has the obligatory picture of the three brothers and someone else playing Bridge right before the huppah. We always used to sneak off during some boring part of any event to play a few hands.

For some reason I never taught either of my children Bridge, except cursorily. I don't know why. It's a great oversight on my part.

So when I found myself bored this evening, along with Tal and my mother, we had to settle for a game of 500 rummy. Pretty silly game, really.

Emergency Call for the Game Doctor

I had to interrupt the game to take my first ever emergency game related call.

I received a call from someone who didn't even remember my name, but had written down my number to call in Jerusalem about game related information.

He was in a spot. He had been set up on a shidduch and needed to find a copy of Othello to play with his shidduch. Because, that's one thing that religious couples can do with each other when they are still forbidden to touch each other.

Luckily, I was able to point him to the Hebrew names of Othello-like games in Israel, as well as a recommendation to try Blokus and/or Ingenious, as well.

Now, do I bill for an entire hour, or pro-rate?

The difference between Hebrew and English

Since some of the attendees spoke only Hebrew, and some only English, and most both, the speeches were repeated in both Hebrew and English in entirety.

Robin announced this and then apologized for this. Her apology in English was "Sorry". Her apology in Hebrew was "ככה", which literally means "that's how it goes" and colloquially means "tough s**t".

"Sorry"? What does that word mean? What are you trying to say? Get out of my way!


Why do I see my cousins so infrequently? Why? Why? Tonight, I was introduced for the first time to my cousin's new one and a half year old girl, and I saw my other cousins for the first time since a month before they were thrown out of Gaza (they are still in a caravan, by the way).

So anyway, a nice party, a nice but brief reunion, and my parents came back to my house to sleep because they needed to go for a checkup at the hospital tomorrow, anyway.


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