Let’s Schmooze!
Like Me, Pretty Please!
Subscribe to the Tribe!

Enter your e-mail address to get Mishegas of Motherhood in your Inbox:


Planning Dream Bar Mitzvah is a Nightmare

Let the countdown begin. It’s officially the time to freak out about my son’s bar mitzvah, which is scheduled in March 2008. I know what you’re thinking. What took me so long? What can I say, except that I’ve never planned this kind of lifecycle event, not even a bris, which only my obstetrician was invited to.

So far, this is what I have in mind, roughly. First and foremost, I either book the synagogue or a plane ticket to Israel. Next, I find a place for the reception and make a down payment on an eight-piece rock band that includes motivational dancers, a laser light show, live video cams, and a full-blown sound system that causes everyone to need hearing aids. Then, I secure a videographer, photographer, caterer, florist, and whoever else convinces me that I need their services. Right away, I hire a party planner to add her two cents when it comes to a theme, decorations, invitations, calligrapher, menu, centerpieces, place cards, seating chart, slide show, more entertainment, party favors, and the name of a reputable therapist for me to visit for when this is all through.

Quick, I find a hotel and request a block of rooms for out-of-town guests, including those whom my pre-adolescent son has never met before. Meanwhile, I keep everything a secret so that no one steals what I think is an original idea. Eventually, I scramble to update mailing addresses from both sides of the family and then hassle my husband to input the data in a spreadsheet. Sooner than later, I get a “real” job to help pay for this bar mitzvah blowout. Finally, after all the contracts are signed and reservations are made, I ask Jack what kind of coming-of-age ceremony he would like.

“I want to become a bar mitzvah in the rabbi’s office. And I don’t want anyone else in the room,” he tells me, matter-of-factly. “Afterwards, I want to eat pizza and play basketball with my friends. And one more thing, no girls.”

So, while Jack continues to focus on his Hebrew studies and prepares for his D’var Torah, it looks like I have my work cut out for me, too. While I embark on a party planning and spiritual journey of my own, I have to remind myself what’s really important in the year ahead. The term bar/bat mitzvah means “obligated to perform the Jewish mitzvot (commandments),” and this life-changing moment represents the beginning, not the finale, of the development of my son’s Jewish identity. With that said, planning a bar mitzvah makes hosting a wedding seem like a piece of cake.

“Mishegas of Motherhood” is the creation of Ellie S. Grossman, a St. Louis freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom who never stays home. Her stories are inspired by the real life of her family, including her two children, toy poodle named Luci, and her husband, but not necessarily in that order. Feel free to send any comments, prayers or recipes to ellie@mishegasofmotherhood.com.