Rob probably is too polite to boast and play the doting father, but the social event of the season, heard all cross the Upper East and Upper West Sides, was his daughter’s Allison’s Bat Mitzvah last Saturday. For this unbiased and neutral observer, a more stylish Bat Mitzvah was never seen, and I have never heard a perkier D‘var Torah. She just swept all before her. Allison’s parents, Rob and Clara, have every reason to be extraordinarily proud of their daughter, and everyone who was there discovered, if they did not know already, that Allison is a very special young woman. Mazal Tov.
But this is a blog of political commentary , not a jotting of social notes, so to remain on message, the question must be asked, what does Allison’s Bat Mitzvah have to do with the election of Barack Obama? In her excellent D’var Torah, Allison spoke about the first meeting of Isaac and Rebecca, and their love at first sight. Allison was of course correct to suggest that falling in love at first sight is a tad superficial, and that those who form connections solely on the basis of first appearances and impressions are generally condemned to a romantic life of disappointments and ephemerality. And yet the paradox of first impressions is that sometimes (as the book of Genesis certainly intended for the initial meeting of Isaac and Rebecah) our first impressions are true, and form the basis of lasting commitments.
Most Americans met Barack Obama on the basis of his keynote speech in 2004. Four years later he was elected president. No one in American politics, perhaps since William Jennings Bryan, has gone further on the basis of a first impression. Of course, in romance and politics, all you really gain from a good first impression is the chance to make a good second impression, and onto the third, the fourth, and so on. So far Obama has passed all the tests, and we have made a real commitment. If, as Allison points out, there is reason for skepticism for a relationship based on early impresions, there is also reason for much optimism. If this is not our time, our time will never come. But to return to the main theme of this post, whether or not, in the person of Barack Obama, the American people have a rendezvous with destiny, Allison’s rendezvous with her growing maturity was carried off with her usual aplomb. Mazal tov.