Oct 24 2013
We recently held my older son’s bar mitzvah. I had heard many stories about all the pitfalls of these events–which are really supposed to be focused on the meaningfulness for the young people involved– but assumed I would get around them and plan an event that would be successful and well-organized, without much of the tsuris that other families seem to have to deal with. I am an executive in the government, after all, accustomed to dealing with a wide range of stakeholders, conflicting priorities, and tight timelines.
Boy, was I wrong. Events conspired to bring me to a near state of panic, and my only way of coping was to start keeping this blog. In the end, humor saved the day. So enjoy.
November 2012: T-9 months
- Established bar mitzvah budget. Figured we should have no problem staying on budget. I’m an auditor, after all.
- Called local Museum to book room for Saturday night party. Museum tells me for my budget, I can order pizza from their cafeteria. Called Delta Hotel.
December 2012: T-8 months
- Delta tells me (more politely than the Museum) that they can’t do it for my budget.
January 2013: T-7 months
- Booked party room at City Hall. Room is good price and we can bring in our own caterer and buy our own booze. Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 10 2013
My daughter studied Hebrew for four years, giving up free time after school and many weekend slumber parties in pursuit of Jewish knowledge. After all that effort, she wanted a fabulous party to mark the occasion of finally being called to the bimah as a bat mitzvah.
And I wanted to give her one. She’d worked hard for it. But I didn’t have a savings account marked “bat mitzvah” set aside, nor did I have tens of thousands of dollars open on credit cards. I’m sure that many parents must save for this from the moment they get a positive pregnancy test, but I was a very young parent, a single one until she was in elementary school, and for most of her life I had been struggling to finish college and pay the bills. I wanted my daughter to have a Jewish education. But I couldn’t take out a mortgage to do it.
I was supposed to be excited about this milestone, but as it drew ever closer, all I felt was dread. It became a chore, an obligation, a source of massive anxiety, not a joy. I wanted nothing to do with the words “bat mitzvah” anymore. And that broke my heart. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 9 2013
Over here at Kveller we know a thing or two about outrageous bar and bat mitzvahs. (Just last month we posted a video of bar mitzvah boy Sam Horowitz shaking his groove thing alongside paid dancers shaking their [well formed] groove things all in celebration of little Sam becoming a man.)
Now, the Reform movement is recognizing that there’s a problem with the American b’nai mitzvah. But it’s not the elaborate parties they’re taking aim at–those have been going on for quite some time (I recall swan ice sculptures at the Harvard Club and my own cousin who imported Olympic athletes to his fete). Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 5 2013
My daughter is in fourth grade, and believe it or not, it’s actually time to start thinking about her bat mitzvah.
When I was pregnant with her, I couldn’t fathom how she’d be able to have any kind of clear religious identity. Wouldn’t she feel torn between her Jewish father and my own hard-to-describe-but-still-incredibly-important-to-me spiritual beliefs? She was the springboard for me to learn about Judaism in the first place. And it feels like it was just the other day that I realized she thought of herself as Jewish the way she considered herself Irish. But because neither of us had converted, according to our Conservative synagogue, she wasn’t Jewish. Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 7 2013
As a rabbinical student, I know that one day I will have to tutor your kid for a bar or bat mitzvah. But guess what: I don’t want to.
Don’t get me wrong, because I love kids. Especially during holidays. There’s nothing more fun than watching kids beat each other at dreidel, or get their hands all gross from honey on Rosh Hashanah and chase after one another. That’s good stuff. The bnei mitzvah? Not really worth anyone’s time or money: and there are four big reasons why. Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 19 2012
It’s my son’s big bar mitzvah year… but Miles is a different kind of bar mitzvah boy.
Miles is a child with ADHD. You might be thinking, ahhh, another parent that says their child is ADHD. Why don’t we just add it to the list, right? That’s what we thought. We thought to ourselves it’s just a label. It’s a teacher telling us something is wrong with him just to label him because he’s wiggly, obstinate, and uncooperative at times. Well, you’re wrong. It’s real and it’s here and it’s a huge part of our life.
My husband and I were both brought up Jewish. We both went to Hebrew school. He, conservative. Me, reform. We always had the view that Miles would go to Sunday school and Hebrew school just like we did. Why wouldn’t he, right? Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 17 2012
Oy. Did I cringe reading the piece in the Sunday’s New York Times about the bad behavior at bar and bat mitzvahs! A shanda!
(Although why the Times thought that article was worthy of publication has me bewildered.)
I’ve been to those affairs–and seen the disrespectful behavior. On the other hand, the speeches are long and boring. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 9 2012
My eldest son turned 13 in June. We didn’t arrange a traditional bar mitzvah for him, for reasons I outlined earlier.
However, my son still became a bar mitzvah. He didn’t read from the Torah, make a speech, or hand out glow sticks to a few hundred of his closest friends. He was, nonetheless, according to Jewish law, a man.
Anyone who has met a typical, American, 13-year-old knows how ridiculous that notion is. (Though my son is a responsible boy–he navigates New York City by subway on his own, he takes his younger brother to school every morning, he babysits his siblings, and even other kids for pay, he does his homework without prompting, and earns good grades. But, a man, he is not.) Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 18 2012
A little while ago, our editorial assistant risked permanent public embarrassment and shared pictures from “Mollypalooza,” a.k.a. her bat mitzvah. We then asked our readers to send in their own bat mitzvah pictures, and chose a favorite to feature on the site. Without further ado, we present to you Gili Warsett:
Here, we ask Gili a few questions about her bat mitzvah:
What exactly did a “peace” themed bat mitzvah entail?
I became a bat mitzvah during the onset of themed b’nai mitzvot, and my mom, ever the Jewish feminist, would not allow me to have a non-Jewish related theme. She wasn’t totally sold on the theme idea at all, but if I had to have one, it certainly meant I couldn’t have a shopping, drama, baseball, or Disney-themed party, which was very popular in Florida at the time. A lot of my friends chose themes that highlighted an aspect of their identity like playing the flute or being a champion swimmer, but I failed at piano and caused my softball team to lose every game. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 4 2012
Our little Molly, officially a woman.
One thing we haven’t talked a whole lot about on Kveller is the quintessential milestone of a young Jewish person’s life: the bar/bat mitzvah. Alina just opened the floodgates with her post about deciding to not throw her son a standard bar mitzvah. On the other side of the spectrum, Kveller’s editorial assistant Molly just uncovered a number of pictures from her own bat mitzvah that are… how do we put this… absolutely amazing?
And now we want to see some of your pictures. The good, the bad, the over-the-top. Did your party have a theme? Were you sporting a sharp power suit? Was your whole family forced to hug in front a professional photographer? Read the rest of this entry →