EASY! My son’s Bar-Mitzvah in September was the highlight of my year. For those of you who are not familiar, here is some background info (quoted from About.com, to make my life easier):
Bar Mitzvah literally translates as “son of commandment.” The word “bar” means “son” in Aramaic, which was the commonly spoken vernacular language of the Jewish people (and much of the Middle East) from around 500 B.C.E. to 400 C.E. The word “mitzvah” is Hebrew for “commandment.” The term “bar mitzvah” refers to two things:
- First, when a boy comes of age at 13-years-old he has become a “bar mitzvah” and is recognized by Jewish tradition as having the same rights as a full grown man. A boy who has become a Bar Mitzvah is now morally and ethically responsible for his decisions and actions.
- The term “bar mitzvah” also refers to the religious ceremony that accompanies a boy becoming a Bar Mitzvah. Often a celebratory party will follow the ceremony and that party is also called a bar mitzvah.
We are not big spenders, nor are we flashy party people. More than anything, we wanted this event to celebrate our son for his accomplishments and his very essence. He is a true young man with a heart of gold, and we wanted him to feel incredibly valued. We have been to many Bar and Bat Mitzvot, many of which were quite opulent and excessive, but the ones we enjoyed most were the ones that were absolutely designed to be parties for thirteen year olds, not mini-weddings. So, after much debate and research, we decided to host the event at our home in our back yard. This, of course, meant planning for all types of weather and taking on the responsibility of all of the trimmings and facilities, but it was worth it.
Fast forward to the meat of the occasion: After our son did a phenomenal job at the synagogue with his Torah portion and leading the service, we encouraged all of our guests to change into whatever they were comfortable wearing. There were kids in shorts, grown-ups in dresses, grown-ups in shorts, kids in dresses. Everyone chose their own level of comfort. There was music – mostly anything the kids would dance to but even adults joined the dance floor (which my husband built and painted to look like a soccer field). Kids threw footballs in the yard, my nephew was in the pool, and family from far and wide caught up over local wine and great catered food. What I remember most is that our son was positively beaming. He clearly felt like the king of the day that he was, and that was the real success in the event. We got compliments left and right on how great the party felt, how real the celebration was, how authentic the experience turned out to be. But the look on our son’s face as he jumped, danced, listened to various speakers extol his praises, watch a video presentation of his life in pictures… that was the priceless gift of all of our efforts.