Brought to you by Bar Mitzvah Disco and… American Apparel?

So a little while back we reported how taken American Apparel jeffe de los jeffes Dov Charney was by the photos that appeared in the BarMitzvah Disco book. He had the photos plastered all over his stores, in his factory and you can even purchase the book from the American Apparel Web site. Now we just got word that American Apparel and Bar Mitzvah Disco have gotten together to produce Bar Mitzvah Disco: The Documentary. Here’s the very painful trailer/call for submissions:

This is being released in time for Passover because I guess they figure all but the very baddest of you will be home with your families. If so, take some time after the Seder to dig up your old Bar Mitzvah videos and send them over – you can become a part of history and trust me, it’ll be therapeutic – better than clonazepam without the nasty libido killing side effects. Uh… yeah. I have no idea where that came from.

Anyways… send email to if you’d like instructions on where to send your footage and visit the Bar Mitzvah Disco Web site for more info. Oh and uh… shop at American Apparel. Yeah!

Hat tip to Benno, the Jewiest goy ever!

About the author


Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.


  • While not having any bar mitzvah tapes to deliver, watching this did bring me back to a time and place. I would love to see other eras rescued for nostalgia —the beehive barmitzvah, the bar mitzvah swing, the Speak Easy Bar Mitzvah….

  • You know, maybe it’s that I wasn’t raised as a rich American Jew–but I don’t get the fascination with this BarMitzva Disco thing.

    In fact, as someone who grew up hugging the poverty line from beneath, I actually find it a bit insulting how so much of this pop-Jewish nostalgia is built around the privilege of being able to waste massive amounts of money on one party.

  • Look Ariel, my Bar Mitzvah was a modest affair, catered by my Mom andd the party took place in my basement. It was rockin though …

    But I digress. I wince whenever I look at Bar Mitzvah Disco. I think we’re supposed to. Like it or not, BMD encapsulates where we’ve been as a society and maybe where we’re going. It aint pretty but it is who we are – no sense hiding it. BMD is not a celebration – it’s an act of painful introspection.

  • Ariel is absolutely correct. The whole Bar Mitzvah celebration thing was unknown in the old world.

    What it is, he is correct. The rich splash around lots of money on parties, waste is the key. Monogrammed napkins for example. For a 13 yo girl.

    It’s the old question, you can’t tell people what to spend on, but in Judaism you can and should and not be politically correct, by saying it’s their business. Because the world is very messed up, we shouldn’t make it worse.

  • Ck, I’m not sure they see it as painful introspection…at least that’s not the impression I’m getting (but I’m known to be dense).

    To me it seems as if the BMD peeps are reveling in the “embarrassment” of having their pre-pubescent pictures plastered in full-bleed color all over an uber-hip booklet. It’s the ultimate act of “hipsterdom”–being so proud of your uncoolness which, therefore, makes you hip.

    It seems to me that you don’t send in your videos in order to introspect. You send in your videos so that people will see you and laugh with you at how uncool you were then and therefore how self-aware and hip you are now that you can tell the difference between gaudy over-priced parties and, eh, gaudy over-priced “cheap” drinks such as Pabst blue-ribbon at the exclusive “dive bar” of your choice.

    (Sorry for all of the “scare quotes.” I feel dirty. I just don’t know how to do it otherwise).

  • Who is this “they?” What exactly are “BMD peeps?” I know how I react to the whole BMD thing. I know that I have the book laying around the apartment and when guests come in it is usually the first thing they grab – their look being a mix of fascination and abject horror. This response seems to cross all religious and economic lines. Rich, poor, religious, secular, hipster, geeks, old people etc. everyone seems to react the same way. BMD is funny, embarassing, horrifying, introspective, kitschy, whatever. What it isn’t is worth getting your panties in a knot over. But if you do, what do you think that means?

    I mean it’s a mere accident of birth that you did not have a gaudy bar mitzva. Had you been born under different circumstances, you would not have been able to lord that fact over anyone. So try to look at the whole BMD thing a little differently. I know what it means to me – what does it mean to you? Hipster cred aside, isn’t that worth contemplating?

  • People, from what I’ve seen, look at BMD with the same mix of emotions as they look at US Weekly or other gossip magazines–the experience is one of gazing at the stars. Which says something about contemporary Jewish life: the rich have become our new superstars. With all due respect to the philanthropies and philanthropists out there–since I really do think they are doing amazing work with the money they’ve earned–one should be a bit disturbed that making money in investment banking is taken to mean that you can provide an answer to the Jewish crisis of your choice.

    The “they” I am speaking about are those same people who reside in the network that these same neuvo-influential philanthropists have built. You see them in every convention or Jewish gathering–fawned over, praised…and rarely if ever criticized in the open for fear of consequences. To be perfectly honest and upfront, I myself fear even writing this post. Why? Because I am trying to put together a magazine and a film and would love it if Jewish organizations would help me and my team provide what we think could be a positive contribution to the Jewish community. For the price of one of the desert-options at this past year’s UJC General Assembly we could print a huge print-run of our magazine…but if I dare upset one of the people connected to the Network of Money, all is potentially lost. It’s a small Jewish world and connections are everything.

    Is it an accident of birth that I was not born into this network–that I was born into an immigrant family in New York and always found myself on the outside of the Jewish communal structure? Absolutely. Would I be saying this if I was on the inside? Not sure–I probably wouldn’t understand the feelings of alienation behind this post by someone on the outside who very much wants to contribute to the Jewish people but, due to an accident of birth, is unable to ask my father to call up six of his friends to put together the seed of a grant for the projects I am part of. But I would sure as hell want people to feel open criticizing me and my practices, and would attempt to create an atmosphere where such criticism is possible. Does that happen at present? No. Just read the pages of the closest Federation-funded Jewish Newspaper by you.

  • My seventh-grade rabbi had the ultimate one-liner about these sorts of affairs: “Too much Bar, not enough Mitzvah.” Hear, hear.

  • Ariel: Well, I asked for you to contemplate the whole thing and you sure did. I’m sorry this otherwise modest undertaking has unleashed a veritable tsunami of Jew boy angst. I mean I hear ya about the Federations and all – you asked me to “read the pages of the closest Federation-funded Jewish Newspaper by you” – sadly, I don’t know anyone under the age of 50 who reads those publications anymore. Stuff like Jewlicious and other JBlogs have largely replaced that role for younger Jews.

    But look, all is not lost! I sense that some of the more savvy philanthropists know that we’re all in trouble. They are open to maybe helping out rogue efforts operating outside their tightly knit networks. I mean we get inquiries all the time despite the fact that we’ve been highly critical of many of the grand poobahs of the organized Jewish community and yet… they still come around. If I were in your shoes Ariel, I’d get that publication out one way or another – print it on photocopied paper, put it up on the Internet, whatever. Don’t wait for those fat asses to get their shit together. No matter what they say, many of the entrenched powers that be and professional Jewish bureaucrats fear innovation and will stymie it unless it’s in their faces or their bosses manage to somehow come across it.

    Think about what you could do if you “eliminated” one mid-level Jewish bureaucrat and took his/her salary and support services for a year and used it for a decent and innovative program?


    Now do you understand the fear? We’re making them all look like chumps! They’re diddeling with their power point presentations and fancy luncheons and WE are getting the attention of the people they ought to be serving. And our budget? Fuck, we do this for beer money.

    So quit bellyaching and just do something. Stop getting upset at stuff like Bar Mitzvah Disco – that shit is funny and I can’t wait till the movie comes out!

  • Just because Ariel’s bellyaching, it doesn’t mean that he’s not “doing something.” In fact, he’s doing too much, which increases his frustration with the structure of organizational, institutional Judaism.

    FWIW, even those of us born in this country, “into the structure,” as you might term it, can’t always ask their parents to call their friends to fund our projects. My parents never hobnobbed with the philanthropists, and that was okay.

    Bar and bat mitzvah parties of my youth–with one notable exception–weren’t vast displays of endless wealth. In fact the “Super Sweet Bar Mitzvah” that was lavish was odd for being so, and the only reason I was invited was because the whole class was. My bat mitzvah was a kiddush in shul, and a party/siyyum on Sunday in my parents’ house. I invited about twelve friends, and the rest were family.

    And (maybe because mine was one of the first in my grade) I never felt left out of the bar mitzvah culture, which has only worsened…see the trailer for “Keeping Up with the Steins“–which pits Jewish families against each other in the bar mitzvah wars.

    Finally having seen the BMD book, and having lived through the era it chronicles, I understand both sides–nostalgia and nausea.

    SoCalled said it best at JTB2–if we “write the good shit,” people will respond. Especially if we promote the hell out of it.

  • I had a modest bar mitzvah party and it was both fun and actually very moving. Then I went to friends’ ostentatious bar mitzvah events and they were fun – albeit cheesy – and, for them and their families, moving. This bar mitzvah nostalgic stuff is done in good humor and it is funny.

    ck, among those many requests for ideas from curious philanthropists, do you have any who want to TRANSFORM JEWISH EDUCATION? I have some ideas but they would require, uh, tens and perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars. 😉

  • Yo Esther, and Ariel – I didn’t mean to sound as harsh as that may have come off sounding. I know Ariel’s a tireless worker – all I was suggesting was that if he has a publication and it’s content ready to go but for some funding, well – get it out one way or another. In this day and age, with a teeny bit of technical assistance, one can have an online magazine up and running within days for very little cash. Why wait for the powers that be to approve the funding for an endeavor that kinda sorta diffuses the center of power and control of information? Why? If you have something to say and you really believe it’s valuable, get your voice heard! Do it. Do it this week. Don’t wait. I mean look at Jewlicious had we waited for funding we would never have ever gotten off the ground. Now we get press from the JTA and we are lousy with beer money.

    Uh… yeah. We uhm, rule and stuff.

  • How do I get in touch with the authors of Bar Mitzvah Disco? The Village People were the entertainment at my party in 1984. They might want to see the pics. Thanks GG

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