I don’t know why, but big projects tend to freak me out. Two years ago, relief flooded me when Uri chose to build a synagogue model for his third grade project with his dad. Similarly, last year, I felt as happy about the two of them working on Uri’s science experiment together. This year, when Eden announced that she decided to build the synagogue model with me, I felt very tentative about it. I didn’t know how to begin or how to go about it, and I felt like if she insisted on working with me, the project might never get done. I think Eden noticed my hesitation, because a few days later she came home and declared that actually her plan is to build the synagogue with her grandpa, my dad. Big sigh of relief. Responsibility off. Now, I thought to myself, there is a chance that she will have a synagogue!
My dad, who has prepared models like that before, immediately imagined Eden and himself working in his wood shop, covered in thin wood dust, building a synagogue out of balsa wood. I suggested that perhaps using foam board would be easier. My dad submitted. He began working on the sanctuary, the most difficult-looking part which is shaped like an ark. Eden seemed to have little interest in the process, instead immersing herself in creating a torah and aron kodesh.
Seeing how uninvolved she was, I thought we could switch to building the synagogue out of lego. Eden sparkled back to life. In an hour, the walls were up. Another hour or two, and we had ceilings. Without so much as a peep for help, she built a bimah and a little rabbi. We put everything together, and voila, a synagogue! I felt a huge surge of pride. Of myself as much as of Eden, I think. We had done it! Perhaps we couldn’t have done it without my dad’s help, who told us where the windows ought to go, and where the door is, and to which side the huge ark-shaped sanctuary must look. But we did a lot! My first project!
When we entered the school this morning, one of the girls in Eden’s class looked at our synagogue and said, “Why is it so small?” Upstairs, mega-projects lined the walls. I think some of these synagogues are the work of parent more than child. Some I know were done by the kids alone. I am proud of Eden for having done more than half the work on her project by herself. Yes, her grandpa helped her with the sanctuary-ark, and I gave her the idea for the ceiling, but most of the execution is her own. And it’s beautiful. It might be small, it might be in many shades of grey, black and blue, because we didn’t have all grey pieces, but to me, it is beautiful.