My daughter is 10 1/2 years old and my husband and I have begun planning for her bat mitzvah. We live in an affluent area and most families around here celebrate simchas in elaborate and excessive way. My husband and I feel, that although we can afford it – we do not want our kids to lose focus on what a bar/bat mitzvah is really about, so we want to plan a more low key affair. We are concerned that our daughter will compare her event to all her friends and feel disadvantaged, or embarrassed. How do we explain to her that circus acts and rap singers are not what makes a simcha meaningful?
“Bat Mitzvah NOT “Diva Mitzvah”
Dear “Bat Mitzvah NOT “Diva Mitzvah”,
I commend you for resisting the urge to “keep up with the Cohen’s.”Â Bar/bat mitzvahs definitely have gotten out of hand, and although I believe everyone should do what they like with their own money, these celebrations aren’t exactly reflecting the loftiness or spiritual nature of this ritual milestone. I am a huge fan of taking kids to Israel for their bar/bat mitzvahs – whether they have already been or not. Even if you choose to have your daughter’s bat mitzvah in your home town, I suggest that you explain to her that rather than doing what everyone else in your neighborhood does, you are going to celebrate it in a unique and special way – by taking a trip. Most kids make a speech associated with their bar/bat so I suggest you and your daughter together choose a theme that interests and relates to your child that can serve as the inspiration for your trip’s itinerary and a foundation for your daughter’s speech and/or chesed project. Examples of themes could be: the diverse culture of Israel (looking at Israeli dance, varying forms of music, art, etc.) or visiting archaeological sites and locals with relevance to the history of prominent women who lived in the land of Israel (from Rachel our matriarch to Golda Meir). Take this trip a few months before the official bat mitzvah in order for her experiences to set in and impact not only the speech she makes but her overall perception of this significant milestone. At the end of the day, no explanation will adequately convey the important message you’re trying to send your daughter – only your example will.
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