Searching for a Simple and Sweet Bar/Bat Mitzvah During Covid19?

Andy Goldfarb Bar/Bat Mitzvahs

How can you focus on the essence of your Bar/Bat Mitzah in the context of social distancing?

Exactly 39 years ago last week, my bar mitzvah celebration took place on March 21, 1981 in Allentown, Pennsylvania. We did not meet in a synagogue, school, or hotel, but in my family’s two-car garage! I vividly remember my mom and dad moving our cars onto the street and sweeping and decorating our garage. It was so simple and so sweet. I have been to many beautiful (and much more lavish) bar/bat mitzvah celebrations since that time, but when I think of our garage bar mitzvah, it reminds me of what is most important about these festivities: family, friends, and the celebration of life.

Here are my tips and suggestions for how you can have a magical, meaningful and memorable Bar/Bat Mitzvah no matter the circumstances.

Stimulate the mind: This involves the meaning of the Bar Bat Mitzvah, exploring and embracing the wisdom of the Torah.

  • Be counted in the minyan (of 10 Jewish adults) via Zoom or other teleconferencing apps.
  • Chant a selection from the weekly Torah portion (parashah) and/or prophetic reading (haftarah) and its accompanying blessings.
  • You can take a virtual Torah of Israel, connecting with the holy land from the comfort of your own home.

Touch the heart with 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.

  • Read teachings connected to your Torah readings and the experience of becoming a bar or bat mitzvah.
  • Share your thoughts and insights with your family by email.

Uplift the soul: While you may be socially isolating it doesn’t mean you have to be alone. There are many ways to meaningful interact with others.

  • Connect with your family and community digitally.
  • Donate to Charity and perform Tzedakah, in these times a helping hand means more than ever.
  • Share photos and videos with your family and loved ones.

My daughter Caroline spoke at her bat mitzvah of the importance of balancing the “holy day” and “holiday” aspects of this rite of passage:

The way you decide to spend your bar or bat mitzvah day determines whether it is a holiday or a holy day. Notice how close these two words are. A holiday belongs to us; it’s about what we want, when we want it, and how we will do it. It’s about having fun, without necessarily thinking about why we are celebrating. A holy day belongs to God, and it requires us to reflect on the meaning of our lives… Any special occasion can be either a holiday or a holy day.