jewish bar mitzvah
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I Booked An African Safari For My Son’s Bar Mitzvah

jewish bar mitzvah

By Samara Speaks of A Buick In The Land of Lexus

Little Dude recently received the date for his bar mitzvah, which will be in November 2016. So what are we doing? Well (obviously) we’ve decided to fly 150 people to Africa to go on a Wildebeest Migration Safari on the Serengeti. For the ceremony, LD will arrive on the back of an elephant surrounded by authentic members of the Maasai tribe, and the tribal leader will cry out the opening lyrics to “The Lion King”:


Animal trainers will help reenact the opening scene to the movie, and Little Dude will be dangled over a cliff by a wizened baboon as the rest of the animal kingdom bows to him.

From there, he’ll recite Hebrew prayers so we can return to rented huts for champagne and bagels.

Just kidding.

A bar (or “bat” for girls) mitzvah is a Jewish coming-of-age ceremony. It celebrates graduation from Hebrew school and marks a child’s emergence into the adult world of Judaism, and blah blah blah. Everyone knows it’s really all about THE PARTY, right? Right?!

I recently shared on Facebook that one of my students had a Sweet Sixteen which cost her parents over $60,000. She hosted 300 people at an upscale, celebrity-studded restaurant in Manhattan. Each of her two dresses cost about $2500. Her parents even hired Fetty Wap to appear. (Fetty Wap, which sounds like the act of slapping someone in the face with a flaccid penis, is actually a super hot rapper with a slew of hits.)

Apparently Nicki Minaj wasn’t available; she was booked for another bar mitzvah that day.

The truth is, even if we were billionaires, it would not be my style to throw a million dollar bar mitzvah for my kid. Okay. Hold up: If we were BILLIONAIRES, I might splurge and pay to restore what used to be CBGBs — and is now a John Varvatos store — to its former, seedy glory and have the party there, but the point I’m trying (and failing miserably) to make is that it’s ludicrous to throw such extravagant parties for children.


It stinks of entitlement and conspicuous consumption…and all that money! You could feed an entire starving Ethiopian village.

And it gets better: Multimillionaire David H. Brooks spent 10 million dollars on his daughter’s bat mitzvah. (The party was dubbed, “Mitzvahpalooza” because Brooks had a stage built, brought in jumbotrons, and installed special concert carpeting. He also hired old AF musicians from Aerosmith, The Eagles, and Fleetwood Mac. And since this was allegedly a party for kids, he also hired DJ AM, Ciara, and 50 Cent.)

Oh, and Kenny G serenaded guests during cocktail hour. Kenny-freakin-G?

(In a cruel/just bit of irony, Brooks was found guilty of insider trading just five years later. And while he was sentenced to 17 years in prison, I still think his biggest crime was hiring KENNY-WANKING-G.)

Currently, a huge trend is creating elaborate videos for the bar mitzah invitation. (Recently, a video invitation for a bar mitzvah went viral. In it, the bar mitzvah boy spoofs several popular hit songs.) And I don’t believe in being judgy about how people spend their money, or especially about kids and how they look or sound, however, I am going to  temporarily retract this belief because the viral video star is a chubby tone-deaf ginger (with a voice that sounds like someone tied rubber bands around his balls). And the icing on this shame cake: At the end, he strips down to his tighty-whiteys and “shakes it” to “Blurred Lines.”

Look, I can appreciate that kids want to mark their passage into Judaism in a passionate and creative way. But these over-the-top theatrics make a mockery of the religion. What’s more, these distastefully extravagant affairs, of all kinds, seem to be merely a show of affluence and pointless one-upmanship. (They’re driven by parents who want to prove that they’ve “made it,” and nothing more.)

Most families, upon receiving the bar mitzvah date — a year in advance — start planning in a frenzy. The mothers in particular go crazy, not just interviewing caterers and florists and DJs, but also booking facelifts and personal trainers.

But I won’t be hiring strippers to pole dance around my kid at his bar mitzvah.

I recognize that he’s been working hard, attending Hebrew school since he was 8, and so it will still be a celebration of all that he’s accomplished. But not something I need to start planning a year in advance.

I have, however, been threatening – for years – to perform Napoleon Dynamite’s entire talent show dance in front of a crowd. Little Dude’s bar mitzvah might be just the place…

This post originally appeared on A Buick In The Land of Lexus.


About Samara Speaks

Samara is the no-holds-barred, seven-times “Freshly Pressed” blogger behind A Buick in the Land of Lexus. She mixes honesty with humor in high definition, first-person story telling. Samara has been featured on Scary Mommy, BLUNTmoms, Mamapedia, Mamamia, and Human Parts. She lives in New Jersey with her son Little Dude, the coolest 11-year-old kid on the planet.

Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.