I am a Jewish mom who has survived 3 mitzvahs! I know 3 hoftorahs by heart! Planned the parties. Communicating with the whole family to make sure they know the dates, times and what to wear. Who has honors. Who needs to be picked up and dropped off at the airport. One cousin needs a booster seat. Hunting down RSVPs. Not forgetting anyone on the invitation list. My kid having a melt down because they don’t want to practice and doesn’t want a bar/bat mitzvah, but then there is a melt down because a few friends they really wanted to be at their mitzvah couldn’t come. Did we order enough bagels?? Melt down at family pictures! Did I remember to pay for the photo booth? Did I miss inviting anyone important? You have to have the correct color kippahs Mommy and the exact kind of candy to throw. How many meals am I responsible for the whole weekend??? We have some vegetarians, some family who don’t eat fish and some who don’t eat dairy. One cousin is allergic to eggs and no one wants to sit next to Cousin Gina. WAIT…… did you outgrow your good shabbas shoes 2 days before your bar mitzvah??? Did I order enough challah for all the meals? And I hope the tape holding up the seam on my son’s pants holds through services. We keep running out of ice and a server didn’t show up! We ran out of stamps for the thank you cards & the credit card magnet is wearing thin!
I pat myself on the back and to all Jewish mothers before me and after me planning a bar/bat mitzvah. It becomes a beautiful family experience, even though I can’t say I was able to relax and enjoy the whole event. AND did anyone notice what an accomplishment it is just to get everyone in the family to shul dressed in the proper clothes ironed with socks matching & hair done- not to mention Shabbat dinner and the party attire! I don’t regret it and would do it all over again! I have it down pat now! It was a great experience for the whole family & there was so much nachus, everyone could feel it! Seeing your kid finish their hoftorah with a smile- HUGE ACCOMPLISHMENT! Best of all, you get to tell your pre-teen how much you love them and how proud you are of them in front of everyone in your speech. Your child has to just listen and can’t say a word or walk away. They just stand on the bimah with you and smile! Grandparents are proud and the siblings and cousins are giggling. Everyone eats and eats and eats, but you!
Yes, planning a bar/bat mitzvah is stressful and overwhelming. Especially because during the planning process you are dealing with a pre-teens emotions, besides all the parts and pieces you are holding together. The weight of the event fell on this mom. One day I was complaining to an non-Jewish friend asked why I even do it. Because I have seen the importance of these memories in our family and our extended family. Non-Jewish friends are usually surprised and impressed of the meaning, cost and recognition of a bar/bat mitzvah. So many questions and the non-Jewish kids are jealous they didn’t get a bar-bat mitzvah. I realize how thankful and fortunately we are to have such supportive family come from far and close to share this with us. They took their time and resources to be here. I want my kids to grow into Jewish adults, and the bar/bat mitzvah is part of the package. I want them to grow into being the next generation of Jewish family support and Jewish adults. Each of my kids have a talis they designed to stay with them throughout their lives and the memory of being a bar/bat mitzvah. What did this cost??? A proud, happy, stressed tired Jewish Mom!
By Pam Raphael