Forgot your favorite aunt during the candle lighting ceremony? Wish your outfit had a little more of your personality? Think an interpretive dance would have made for a better speech? Check out new takes on quintessential elements of the B-Mitzvah experience.
By Chris Farber
September 1, 2015
My story doesn’t start with a Bar Mitzvah. I didn’t have one. Instead, it starts with my second circumcision.
I’m in a mikva... it’s a clammy, damp basement. It’s like a steam room without the heat. The process is simple. You pray, and then submerge in the ritual bath in the middle of the room, and then pray some more. One caveat is that your physical connection to the water must be uninterrupted by clothing, jewelry or contact lenses. So here I am, naked and blind, while the fuzzy figures of the beit din, three fully clothed and bearded rabbis with perfectly corrected 20/20 vision watch me and we chit chat about sports, the weather and the Jewish concept of Shalom ha-beit, peace in the home. And then one of them reaches for my penis. Read More.
By Rabbi Lori Shapiro
Growing up in the Five Towns of Long Island, Shabbat passed by the house I grew up in every Friday night, waiting for me to join her, as a parade of men in dark suits and children in colorful dresses accompanied her to Young Israel of Woodmere. In 1985, the year that would have been my Bat Mitzvah, I was still eight years shy from the time I would join any Shabbat procession. Read More.
By Leah Sarna
May 4, 2015
My favorite part of being an adult is recreating my youth –over and over again – and getting the details right this time. For example, I did not grow up Jewish. I was born into a secular family whose religion was the Pittsburgh Steelers and whose spirituality was a sort of Christian Capitalism. No church but we celebrated Christmas and Easter and I had no idea these holidays were about Jesus. My parents never mentioned god. I asked my 4th grade teacher about the history of Easter and he, being a paranoid public school employee, said, “I can’t talk to you about that. You need to go home and ask your parents.” Read More.
By Wendy MacNaughton
October 7, 2014
I've always passed. When I was young most of my closest friends were Jewish, but they had no idea I was, too. How could they? I didn't go to Sunday school, my hair used to be straight, my last name is MacNaughton, and I never had a Bat Mitzvah. Half my family is Jewish (moms), other half is Episcopalian (dads) so I had one foot in each. I was bi-cultural, I guess - but I always identified more as Jewish but never felt like I really belonged. I wasn't part of the club. Read more.
By Jennifer Bleyer
October 7, 2014
An updated Candle-Lighting Ceremony
Making zines about girl power
Mosh pits are for women, too
Scrawling slut across our bellies
Riot Grrrl, this light's for you.
Torah and Shabbos, mamash a gevalt
Shlomo Carlebach showed me what I never knew
Like that music is prayer and yiddishkeit sweet
And one can be a misfit and still be a Jew.
Ethan’s Bar Mitzvah: C+
By Ethan Kuperberg
In order to prepare for Rebar, I recently watched my Bar Mitzvah video. I haven’t had such a horrifying viewing experience since the Ozymandias episode of Breaking Bad. There may have been fewer Neo-Nazi methamphetamine makers at my Bar Mitzvah than in the fictionalized version of Albuquerque, but I felt the same emotions that I did while watching that episode: nausea and terror as I watched a beloved character die. In this case the beloved character was my memory of myself as a suave, charming thirteen-year-old A.E.Wright Middle School Honor Roll rockstar. Just like DEA Agent Hank Schrader, the character that I remembered myself to be was also fictional. And dead. Read more.