Christian is the last of (no less than) four people (or groups of people) with whom I've had a reunion in the past four days; of whom three were people that I met in South America. I met Christian while doing the Santa Cruz-Llanganuco hike in Peru, back in April. He lives in Wallonia (French-speaking Belgium) with his wife Nancy, and his two daughers Marine and Florine. I had a great time this evening, enjoying dinner with Christian and his family, and catching up on old times.
After six weeks of backpacking around Europe, this afternoon I arrived in the lovely Swiss city of Zürich (on the Cisalpino express train), to have a small "holiday from the holiday", and to spend some time with my family here. I got a lovely warm welcome: I stepped off the train, and there was my uncle Mark, standing right there on the platform, and wearing an unmissable Akubra hat so I could spot him! Mark drove me over to his plush dental practice, where he showed me around the establishment; then we were joined by Susi, and the three of us returned to their apartment, for a delicious home-cooked welcome dinner, and a long (and long-overdue) catch-up chat. Looks like I'm going to get very spoilt here, and that I'm going to have a fun and relaxing time in Zürich as well.
Although he grew up just like me, in Sydney Australia, my mum's brother Mark hasn't lived there for more than 25 years, since he wandered off around the world, met his Swiss-dwelling wife Susi, and became a qualified dentist. My uncle Mark and auntie Susi have now lived in Zürich for over 10 years. This is the first time I've been to visit them, and also the first time I've seen them, since they last visited Sydney about 7 years ago. It was very nice to see them again, after all these years, and to enjoy their hospitality while here in Switzerland.
We haven't seen much of him so far: so today, my dad and I went and met up with Paul; and he took us for lunch, and also treated us to his own special tour of Harvard. Since Paul is currently working at Harvard, as a professor, it was much more unique and memorable than the standard tour that we went on last week. Lunch was great, too.
Paul Bempechat is Janine's older brother, and hence also my dad's first cousin. Paul's a pianist, a writer, and also a Harvard professor. We saw him at the barmitzvah; and today, we also had lunch and a university tour with him.
We finished off Adam's barmitzvah celebrations today, by doing something that we really didn't do enough of yesterday: eating! Hahahahaha... yeah right, as if we needed to eat more this weekend. This morning's brunch was an informal little affair, at the Goldstein house, where we just kinda popped in and shmoozed for a bit. The brunch was catered separately to yesterday's big lunch, which was insane — as yesterday's lunch has provided the Goldsteins with enough leftovers to end world hunger in 22% of Africa. Anyway, nice morning finale to the simcha.
This was it: today was Adam's barmitzvah! In the morning, we had the service and the torah call-up; and in the afternoon, we had a colossal lunch in the shul hall. All of this was at the conservative synagogue that my cousins go to, just down the road from their house in Newton Center. Adam did a great job on stage: read his portion very confidently, and gave a solid and well-intentioned speech. And needless to say, the lunch was scrumdiddlyumptious.
Adam and Becca's cousins from New York are great guys, and they came up specially for the occasion. Can't remember the name of the 15-year-old kid and his friend, but Josh is 17, and is endeavouring (with little success) to master a good Aussie accent. These three boys kept me company for much of the celebrations — good to have some mates around, since I didn't know many other people here.
Adam's barmitzvah celebrations began tonight, at the Goldstein house, with a fully-catered shabbat dinner. Big crowd — much of the extended family arrived this evening, mainly from New York and Philadelphia — and plenty of new (and very distantly-related) relatives to meet. The food was great, and it flowed from the kitchen in copious quantities. A very nice, heimische start to the simcha.
My uncle and aunt from back home in Sydney, Ivor and Manuela got into Boston late this evening. Like the rest of us, they're here for Adam's barmitzvah, as well as for the general family get-together surrounding it. And like my dad, this is the first time I've seen them, since leaving Sydney 8 months ago. "The other Epsteins" (as I sometimes call them) are in town for about a week, after which time they'll be going on a little road trip through the New England area.