At the end of spring, my family and I attended the last of the Long Island Bar Mitzvahs. Not to say that there will no longer be Bar Mitzvahs on Long Island, but it was the youngest cousin’s Bar Mitzvah and there are no longer any Long Island Bar Mitzvahs that I need to attend. Next will be Long Island weddings. Hopefully there’ll be some Long Island Iced Teas…

New Voices – The National Jewish Student Magazine seems to believe that due to the current state of the economy…home foreclosures, depletions of 401ks, etc etc, that it truly is the end of the era of Long Island Bar Mitzvahs.
a prime example

a prime example

 In the article entitled The Most Extravagant Bar Mitzvah You Ever Saw, staff writers describe their first hand, over the top B’nai Mitzvah experiences. I won’t do that because I love my family, regardless of how much or how little they spend on their black tie events. However, the majority of the experiences mentioned in the article took place on Long Island.  Parties with carousels and men on stilts, bat mitzvah girls entering in horse drawn carriages,  personalized Bar Mitzvah logos, ice sculptures and black tie required.  With fetes like these still taking place, can we truly call it the end of an era?

Unfortunately, I’m not sure we can generalize the experience to only Long Island. Jennifer Weiner chronicles the struggle between wanting to keep up with the Steins and maintaining meaning in the B’nai Mitzvah experience in her novel Certain Girls. And, as you might know, almost every book Weiner writes takes place in (ahhh!) Philadelphia. When asked about the book on her website, Weiner responds: “In the book, the parents of the bat mitzvah girl have hired people to pretend to be paparazzi and photograph the guests as they enter the bash. I thought that was clearly satiric and utterly ridiculous. The month before the book came out, I got an email from a friend whose sister is getting her MFA in photography, who’d received an invitation to make some extra money by pretending to be a paparazzo. At a bar mitzvah.” On Long Island, perhaps?

Maybe with the new struggles of a weakened financial situation, the ritual and ceremony of this rite of passage will return to the forefront. Or maybe they’ll just start paring back on the wax hand sculptures, the scantily clad dancers or the trendy venues. Or maybe they’ll take a second mortgage on the house.

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4 Comments

  • If you think the bat mitzvah was over the top, you should read the stuff he’s accused of in his 71-page criminal indictment (he hasn’t gone to trial yet).

  • You’re forgetting the classic book Bar Mitzvah Disco, which has awesome examples of the ridiculousness of Bar Mitzvah excess, albeit in the simpler time of the 1980s…

    I have heard of families getting more interesting, if not more expensive. A friend’s brother’s recent Bar Mitzvah was a luncheon for adults and (more awesome) Medieval Times. Why didn’t I think of that? Instead I had two mediocre dancers and a lot of blow-up instruments.

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