How to Have the Bar Mitzvah You Want

In August of 2017 I was asked to share my thoughts on Breaking Matzo and throwing a magical, meaningful and memorable bar/bat mitzvah. Here is what I had to say:

Jewish home holidays have been an incredible passion of mine. I loved Passover. I loved Sukkot. With my family, we actively celebrated the holidays, and we cooked all the time. Breaking Matzo started with my children: At Passover, I would write a custom Haggadah every year.

Now with the site expanding to offer bar and bat mitzvah insights, I hope to make these rites of passage magical, meaningful and memorable, not morose, morbid or maddening.

If you’re overwhelmed with planning, costs, interpersonal woes, family dynamics or squabbling with your child over visions for the event, remember, it:

  • should stimulate the mind
  • touch the heart
  • uplift the soul.

The most important thing is to make sure it’s personally significant. I had an extravagant bar mitzvah, but unusual. My parents moved our cars out of our two-car garage, swept it and decorated it. The kids’ party was downstairs in the basement. My uncle, who was a rabbi in Israel, made freshly baked challah. It was sweet and simple.

So, how can you have a bar or bat mitzvah that’s significant, not stressful?

Step one: Stimulate the mind. This involves understanding the history of the bar or bat mitzvah.

Step two: Touch the heart. The heart is the Torah. Connect with text that has been around for thousands of years, but make it meaningful to you. Find something in your heart that connects with the words on the page. If you can do that, you teach the congregation

Step three, and perhaps the most important: Uplift the soul. Remember, this is about your child’s journey, not yours, he says.

Many parents interfere too much and are too heavy-handed. It’s about the kid. Remember what matters the most. Parents might think it’s their social event and overlook the interest of the kid. Ask, ‘What’s good for my child? How can I help them go from being a Jewish child to a Jewish young adult?’

If you’re still overwhelmed with logistical woes or wondering whether Aunt Debby will cause a scene on the dance floor because the event wasn’t to her liking, take a pause.

Close your eyes, go to a quiet place and try to imagine the feeling that you would like your son or daughter to have at the end of the day. The bar or bat mitzvah is about the beauty of unique expression. If your kid wants to do something unique, you should be so proud that he or she wants to do something meaningful. You don’t want them to just follow the course.

You can read the full article of my interview here.