Last Friday, we attended Joshua’s first ‘show’ at Carmel School. This was the Grade 1 Siddur presentation. Now, Joshua had already had a siddur presentation last year at Rosh Pinah, but putting that aside, I was looking forward to seeing how Carmel did things and most of all I was delighted that my parents were here and were allowed to attend – no ‘one parent only and no siblings’ rules here! Although I enforced a ‘no siblings’ rule anyway!!
Those who have seen me in action at Rosh Pinah will know that on occasions like this I am always there early and secure myself a front row (usually) position – Joshua expects it and I do my best to deliver! We left the flat 30 minutes before the ceremony was due to start, plenty of time. However, it took us 20 sweaty stressful minutes to get a taxi and then we had the only taxi driver I’ve ever encountered who didn’t know where the school was, so we arrived rather stressed and with about 1 minute to spare! And shockingly I had to sit in at least the 4th row, grrrr.
But once the music started and the kids marched onto the stage and began singing in such a lovely well-rehearsed way, my stress left me and predictably I welled up! If I’m honest, my initial emotions were centred around me thinking that Joshua didn’t belong here, it felt weird, and we should all be cheering him on at Rosh Pinah in Edgware, not at Carmel in Hong Kong. But as the ceremony progressed, I began to see how much Joshua really did ‘belong’ now. He was in the front row, confident, happy and acting as if he had been there for years. After his difficult first few weeks at school, I was just so proud of my boy, who is now the most settled one of all of us. I looked over my shoulder at my mum in tears at the back (thank goodness she was at the back!) and didn’t dare imagine what must have going through her mind otherwise I really wouldn’t have been able to hold it together!
The ceremony was really very special. The songs were beautiful, the kids all had their own solo lines giving a photo opportunity for everyone. Then, after a moving speech from the headmistress where she showed the children her own well-used siddur that she had had since she was a young girl, she presented each child with their siddur that they had all carefully decorated at home.
The show ended with a lovely video montage of photo highlights of all the rehearsals and preparations plus footage of each child saying what they loved best about the Jewish side of their education. Really lovely.
And at the end there was coffee (Starbucks no less!), cakes, biscuits, crisps and a big ‘mazel tov Grade 1’ cake served up at the end – you don’t get that at Rosh Pinah!