Okay, I am not one to disparage my own people but the phrase “family bar mitzvah weekend” has never caused me to shudder with anticipation. Not that bar or bat mitzvahs are horrible. They’re not. But I do think it is fair to say that they are predictable. That’s why you invite the crazy cousins – to add the element of surprise. But I imagine it must be hard to plan a party where the ages of the guests range equally from 7 to 70. Do you play songs from American Bandstand or American Idol? Chicken nuggets or chicken marsala? I have heard many Jewish mothers justifying their choices by uttering the phrase, “after all its for the kids” yet still personally wrestling with the fact that adults may not be happy with some of the selections.

But suffice it to say that my people have figured out this conundrum over the years and the result is a formula that seems to work for most families. Service. Luncheon or dinner party with a variety of music that is always too loud for anyone over 40 60. Separate menus, usually with a fair number of the grown-ups sneaking over to the kid’s buffet for the mac and cheese. And the “fun-o-meter” is directly connected to your relationship with the family, the people sitting at your table, and the number of people who go up in the chair for Hava Nagila. Noah will have a bar mitzvah in 2010 and I had resigned myself to the fact that sticking to this approach is the only way to go. But no more. Now, there is hope because this past weekend I attended:


(And this is coming from an in-law)

For their son, Jake, Dave’s cousins reserved a conference center in Massachusetts. We basically had the entire Inn and grounds to ourselves for the weekend. The service was held outside on a gorgeous day with a guitar player and, might I say, one very hip Rabbi who understood this kid as well as the family did. My kids sat in the grass for most of the service. And there were no bees. (You parents know the havoc this could wreak).



But after the service is where it gets more interesting. Instead of the traditional luncheon/dinner dance thing, we were all given different colored t-shirts and divided carefully into six teams. We spent the afternoon in a heated friendly competition on the field together with our kids. Whacky games that cracked us all up. A corporate team building coach was hired to run the entire Olympic event. He kept us all honest with the rules and by the end of the afternoon we all wanted to kill him. Shalom!! It was a blast.





We spent the late afternoon swimming in the lake and had a barbeque at night – complete with a campfire and s’mores. And my brother-in-law’s band played! (I was a little worried about this part as I had never heard his band play before – and he is a lawyer for God’s sake.) But they were terrific and we stayed up late singing and dancing along.

I learned a lot this past weekend. My potato sack prowess is not what it was when I was twelve. When attending an outdoor bar mitzvah service, use sunscreen on the back of one’s neck. And when it comes to throwing a bar mitzvah, yes, you can make everyone happy.

15 Minutes of Fame Announcement

For those who are awake tomorrow morning (Wednesday) around 7:40 a.m., I am going to be on the 95.7 Ben FM morning show! Some very nice person (whom I have yet to identify) nominated me to be Woman of the Week. I think we are talking about a story I did for Chicken Soup for the Soul this year – and hopefully the MoB. For those in Philly, you can tune in directly (95.7 fm) or you can listen on the web (www.957benfm.com). I just hope I get to wear those cool headphones. Then my life will be complete.

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