Dusting off the cover of your B-Mitzvah photo album? Replaying the video for the first time in years? Remembering the guest list and party details? These reBar moments are for the serious nostalgists amongst us.
By Vanessa Hidary
September 1, 2015
It’s 1983. I’m at Robin Silverstein’s Bat- Mitzvah. Robin spelled with an “i”, not to be confused with the Robyn spelled with a “y”.
I’m wearing a Gunney -Sax white princess dress, lavender Chinese slippers and Maybelline’s Frosted Brownie lipstick. It looks like I just took a bite into a powdered donut …or did a big 8 ball of blow. Read More.
By Kate Scelsa
September 1, 2015
In the spring of 1981, with an August Bar Mitzvah rolling inexorably in my direction, I was obsessed with two things: The angle of my hair, and the question of whether I might be a tzaddik.
The first one is easier to understand. I was 13, the girls in my class all loved Parker Stevenson’s blow-dried hair (the real star of the Hardy Boys TV show), and I was saddled with a helmet of impractical locks that defied gravity, the curls above my ears pointing sideways like Steven Martin’s arrow-through-the-head posters of which graced the bedrooms of all my friends. As I sat in Hebrew school I shuddered to think of being up on the bima, my curls levitating and separating as I sat on the oversized chair next to the rabbi, imagining my friends imagining me being Steve Martinized. I wanted to take the yad and stick it through my ears, ending the horror. Read More.
By Erika Dreifus
August 1, 2015
Frankly, when it comes to my Bat Mitzvah, there’s precious little that I wish I could re-do. When I recall the May 1982 occasion, I might confess that I’d likely have been significantly more comfortable had I not insisted on wearing my ill-fitting contact lenses (oh, adolescent vanity!). But overall, the event was everything I could have wished for at the time. I’ll admit that in recent years, I’ve envied some of my younger cousins, the video-recordings of their ceremonies and celebrations. But there’s a part of their Bar and Bat Mitzvah experiences that I envy even more: the presence of “the Altdorf Torah”. Read More.
By Ariela Emery
August 1, 2015
In 7th grade, I went to at least one Bar/Bat Mitzvah every weekend. Everyone’s party had a theme. To name a few: poodle skirts and cat-eye glasses at the 50s-themed diner, the Americana picnic, and the most memorable of all: when two girls rented out the NASA Johnson Space Center and screened an IMAX movie in which they took a (fictional) trip to space. Read More.
By Matthue Roth
July 1, 2015
I found my Bar Mitzvah speech in a pile of old papers. For about seven seconds, I was ecstatic -- I am such a big fan of young me. At eight, I wrote the best one-page science fiction sagas (Sherlock Brains and the Revenge of Morty Silly-Putty on the Slime Planet, with two sequels) and when I was eleven, I handed in a rhyming parody of “The Raven” as a class journal assignment. As the most formal writing assignment and the biggest public reading of my young life, it was sure to be a doozy. It had to be a doozy...right? Read More.
By Sara Lippmann
June 1, 2015
Religion was the great divide in my household. My father had been a Yeshiva boy; my mother couldn’t crack lobster claws fast enough. How they wound up married, how they’ve stayed married, is anyone’s guess. Their arguments, like all wars (and theirs was ongoing) stemmed from this fundamental difference in belief. My father’s rigidity often won out against my mother’s heathenism. I was the resentful knot in their theological tug of war. Read More.
By Mickey Rapkin
June 1, 2015
Like most kids in their Bar Mitzvah year, I was more interested in planning My Super Sweet 13 than practicing my Haftorah. How else can a boy from Long Island show he’s a man than by acting like a teenage girl? I imagined sequined dancers and a ten-piece band. I obsessed over the mix of food stations for the cocktail hour. We needed a carving station! Beef-and-broccoli! Pigs-in-a-blanket! (With Kosher pigs.) My theme was TELEVISION, which turned out to be prophetic: Twenty-five years later (gulp) I’d move to Hollywood to write for TV. Read More.
By Lisa Fernandez
May 4, 2015
My Bat Mitzvah years were not the greatest. I was painfully shy. I felt chubby and awkward. I absolutely hated the hot pink suit my aunt and mother helped me pick out, accented with a 1980s-style puffy white shirt. I was so nervous about chanting in front of an audience I thought I would have a heart attack.
April 9, 2015
By Matthew Lippman
April 9, 2015
If coming of age means coming to the age when adults begin to fail, when you begin to see what being adult really is, and when the fallible adult in you begins to appear, 13 was when I came of age.At 13, what had been stable became unstable: After living in the same house for the first 12 years of my life, we would live in three houses over the next five years. We left the childhood home in Oakland that I loved with all my heart, and moved to Piedmont, that place my dad had said was full of snobs and swore we’d never live there. Read More.
By Nicole Taylor
March 18, 2015
When I went to work in America, I discovered that I was exotic. A Jew from Scotland? How did your family get there? By which I think was meant: And how come they didn’t leave? In fact, 9 of 10 siblings did leave, and only one, my grandmother, stayed behind. And if that isn’t the start of a Yiddish folktale, I don’t know what is.
20 years ago, when this picture was taken, I was just one Scottish Jew among thousands of others. In this particular photo, I was among Hannah and Nadia, lets call them, with whom I’d soon be having a joint bat-mitzvah. Read More.
by Heather Klein
February 24, 2015
Around the time of my Bat Mitzvah I cared A LOT what people thought of me. My hair was frizzy, I had the biggest boobs in my class, and my teeth were crooked. I was so worried about my smile that I would imagine myself on a date with a boy, sitting in his car and hoping he would only see the right side of my mouth and not the left (hand to mouth), which was crooked. My parents and I moved to Vegas when I was 10 from Westchester County, New York. When I lived in New York I went into NYC many weekends with my parents. We saw a ton of plays, Broadway shows and my Dad's favorite: Opera. My parents are New Yorker's, and my Dad grew up with a lot of live theatre. I completely fell in love with singing in an even more definite way as I was exposed to so many amazing musicals and voices. Read More.
by Lisa Brown
February 9, 2015
I’m sorry, I actually loved my Bat Mitzvah. (And I’m not just saying that because my parents are in the audience.) However, my grandmother would certainly have changed a few things.
When I was little, I loved to look through my parents’ wedding album with my grandmother. We’d look at the photos of the guests at their tables, and my grandmother would say: “That one’s dead, she’s dead, he’s dead, I dunno what happened to her, dead, dead… dead. Read More.
By Brian Elliot
October 7, 2014
I wrote this letter to my parents and read it to them two nights ago:
When I was 12-years-old, I had big dreams for my upcoming Bar Mitzvah. For me the stakes seemed really high. See, it was about in 6th grade that I started to put together the pieces that I wasn’t like the other boys—in that, I kind of started to like the other boys. So between being picked on for being a closeted sissy and the fact that socially I was squarely situated in the school’s nerd herd, I realized that if I wanted to be well-liked, it was going to take some big changes. Read More.
By Dan Fost
October 7, 2014
I’m almost shocked at how little I remember of my Bar Mitzvah. I don’t recall my Haftorah reading, or what the rabbi said, or what music played at the reception.
I learned Hebrew, but I’ve forgotten all of it. Every Hanukkah, I look up the letters on the Dreidel.
My Bar Mitzvah was supposed to be such a momentous occasion, a defining moment, my passage from childhood to adulthood. It was the day I became a man! Why do I remember so little of it? Read More.
By Andy Corren
What could I say about Fleckenstein’s Tiny Town that Harry Fleckenstein, scion of an actual Southern emperor of toys, hadn’t already said a thousand times in his adenoidal but weirdly genteel, Jewish-Southern accent? “25,000 feet of toe-yees, open 6 days a week, includin’ the Shay-Bot!” How I longed to walk those stately, gleaming halls, where every Fayetteville boy worth his weight in bacon dreamed of walking, a rich & pliant parent at his elbow, purchasing solace from all the impending Falklands War news, taking shelter amongst the unlimited shelves of Star Wars figurines. How I ached for those just-out-of-reach, toy-stuffed aisles, brimming with exotic Lego kits and frolicking Rainbow Brite ponies. Here, at memory’s altar, I lay before you what was taken for canon in 1982: the candy-coated aisles of Fleckenstein’s Tiny Town and World Famous Cumberland Arcade were not only the largest toy store in Cumberland County, but the only one in possession of THE BIGGEST SCALE SIZE MILLENNIUM FALCON REPLICA THAT YOU COULD BUY. Read More.