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Feb 5 2013

Time to Start Planning My 4th Grader’s Bat Mitzvah

By at 11:50 am

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

Ban the Bar Mitzvah: A Rabbinical Student Rethinks The Time Honored Ceremony

By at 12:21 pm

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

Preparing for a Bar Mitzvah with ADHD

By at 4:01 pm

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

Do Kids These Days Have Any Manners?

By at 3:57 pm

bar mitzvah boy reading torahOy. 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

An Unexpected Bar Mitzvah Boy in Oxford

By at 10:42 am
oxford, england

Oxford, England.

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

Bat Mitzvah Photo Contest Winner: My Theme Was “Peace”

By at 9:30 am

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

Share Your Embarrassing Bar/Bat Mitzvah Photos With Us

By at 1:39 pm
molly tolsky bat mitzvah

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 →

The Case of the Missing Bar Mitzvah

By at 12:42 pm

Almost three years ago, when my oldest son was only 10, I received an e-mail from our temple’s Hebrew School, which he was then attending, informing me that it was time to put his bar mitzvah date down on their calendar.

I responded with what I thought was the perfect, Jewish reaction, “Oy, we should all live so long.” (Let the record show that the above response was only in my head. I sent the temple a more dispassionately worded answer, merely declining the opportunity.)

I was informed that, should I fail at committing to a particular date almost three years down the road on the spot, I risked it BECOMING UNAVAILABLE. Read the rest of this entry →


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