Have you ever seen “My sweet sixteen” on MTV and perhaps thought that those parties where off the hook and insanely cool? Well, then you haven’t been to a Bat Mitzvah party!
We were honoured and delighted to be invited to a friend’s daughter’s Bat Mitzvah party and I most admit it was the best party we’ve been to … ever! I would almost, and just only almost, say that it was better than our own wedding.
Not being Jewish, we weren’t quit sure what such an event actually celebrated and what to expect. More importantly, what were the Jewish traditions we needed to be aware of? The only Jewish expression I know is Mazel Tov, which may or may not be appropriate to shout out all the time during the party.
What is a Bat Mitzvah?
- When a girl reaches 12 she becomes a “Bat Mitzvah” and is recognized by Jewish tradition as having the same rights as an adult. So, this is in essence the same as confirmation in the Christian faith.
- She is now morally and ethically responsible for her decisions and actions. Which is perhaps scary to some of us parents, given we have witnessed some of the tantrums our kids can have!
- “Bat Mitzvah” refers to a religious ceremony that accompanies a girl becoming a Bat Mitzvah. The celebratory party that follows the ceremony is also called a Bat Mitzvah. Again, similar to the confirmation parties.
It was clear that this day would be special and was a full day of celebrating the star of the day. We had been invited to events the entire day, starting with the actual ceremony in the synagogue, followed by brunch/lunch and then the actual party.
One of the questions that kept lingering in my mind was the use of the Yarmulke aka the little cap that most Jewish men wear. It wasn’t clear to me if I was expected to wear the cap all day during the various ceremonies. I was considering knitting my own, or at least borrow a Yarmulke from an innocent Jewish bystander.
For some strange reasons, we were not able to attend the morning and lunch sessions, as our daughter’s softball season was being kicked off, but we happily attended the evening event.
We arrived at the country club that had been booked for the occasion and handed our keys to the valet parking team. I was wondering if the family looser cruiser would be in safe-hands, but looking at the exclusive SUV’s pulling in next to ours, we were in very safe hands.
At the door we were greeted by staff pointing us towards the buffet area. It was not really a buffet, but a luxury snack area with various food stations; sushi, vegetarian, rolls, meats, breads, cheeses, salads and free bar. Everybody were in a fantastic mood munching on all the delicatessen and drinking well mixed drinks.
Tourist as we were, we thought that this was the dinner and tried every possible food combination and a few drinks. Suddenly our friends appeared, greeting us and informing us that dinner was about to be served down-stairs.
As we moved down-stairs, the loud base from the dance tunes hit our faces like wind gusts when putting your head out the window of a driving car. The dance floor was packed with 80-90 kids, jumping to the rhythm of Rhianna, Flo Rida, FUN and other popular beats.
Suddenly the music stopped and the professional event team created a corridor. The DJ started to welcome all the guests and screamed “let’s welcome the guest of honour” – the she arrived to the party on a throne of strong men … in her pink dress. Everybody screamed and applauded.
The next few hours were spent among beats, food, screaming kids, drinks, dancing, prizes and laughter. Even I danced! Swinging the wooden leg with the missus, trying to be the coolest dancer by imitating MC Hammer!
Then there were the candle ceremony were the star of the evening dedicated 13 candles to family and friends, reading out poems and making the audience cry.
Once all the traditional stuff had been completed, the dance floor erupted in extremely loud tunes and kids (+ adults) invaded the dance floor screaming and laughing. We were given funny glasses, hats and other gadgets to increase the party mood … and it worked. The events team dragged people to the dance floor and the hired dance girls dragged men to the floor while imitating lambada forbidden moves. It was an instant party of 200+ people dancing wildly on the dance floor; all ages were welcome.
Around midnight it was time for us to head home. To be honest, my legs were killing me and not too I could walk straight. We were laughing and smiling all the way to the car park, and drove calmly back to the house. Just for the record, my wife had not been drinking as she was dedicated driver!
While driving, my suddenly exclaimed “it is so much fun being Jewish – we have to convert – they know how to have a fantastic time”. I couldn’t agree more, but did fear for the bill for potentially 3 of these parties; one for each of our kids.
Mazel Tov! – and thanks for the best party ever (well, almost)