How to Throw an Awesome Bat Mitzvah
Have an awesome kid. Raise her right. Instill good values. Sweeten her Torah. Show her what is Ahavat Israel really means. Allow her plenty of opportunities to see herself the way that you, her loving parents, see her.
Ask bat mitzvah girl what she wants to do.
Collect good friends.
Go to Temple Institute in the Old City of Jerusalem. Learn about the fusion between spirit and matter, between heaven and earth. See what it looks like to actively await Moshiach’s arrival every day.
Learn about incense used at the temple and learn about sacrifice. Grind your own spices, fill a sachet full and stick it in your purse. Smell throughout the day to help you remember.
Have classy friends set up a banquet hall in bat mitzvah girl’s honor at Kever Rachel. (Consider green and pink as go-to-colors and homemade centerpieces with sunflowers and bougainvilleas).
Pour into the loving embrace of “Mama Rochel.” Pray with your friends and lots of Sephardi women. Try to cry like them a little if you can swing it.
Have Holy Bagel deliver some of their best platters. Eat like you haven’t eaten in 2 days.
Prepare an awesome group art project.
Design tambourines. Paint them, tie ribbons and feathers and glitter and beads. By all means use metallic pens. While you paint and draw, imagine the party you’ll have and the dancing and singing you’ll do when your personal Red Sea splits… envision redemption.
Dance like crazy people with your tambourines – dance until sweat is rolling down your forehead and sing until your throat is hoarse and sore.
Drive back home and sing some more at the top of your lungs (99 bottles of beer on the wall is not off limits anddoes translate to Hebrew if you’re traveling with a group of Israeli pre-teens).
Invite your out of town guests to a private guided tour of some of the Golan’s sweetest spots.
Stop for a classy picnic that includes fresh figs, cool ice pops and homemade cheese. Pick pears overlooking the Syrian border. Wave to the Rebel troops. Pray for peace within our borders.
Shower up before shabbat.
Have a women’s kabbalat shabbat – don’t hold back – let it rip.
Eat well. Have loads of devrei Torah spoken by the folks that know and love you the most.
Have the bat mitzvah girl prepare her own devrei Torah – watch her claim her place as a Jewish woman right before your eyes. (Have tissues on hand).
Let the men stay up way past their bedtimes and fabring to the hearts’ content. Don’t judge them when quite literally crawl home at 3:00 a.m. It’s all good.
Wake up for shul (or not). Keep your sunglasses on during davening if you need too… it’s cool.
Have some awesome women from your community organize a communal, pot-luck, eco-friendly kiddish.
Invite the whole community. Smile, laugh, schmooze and kvell together about how beautiful the day is.
Enjoy shabbat lunch with your peeps.
Let that Torah continue to flow towards your bat mitzvah girl… watch her soak it up like a sponge because words that come from the heart, enter the heart.
Peel off to your respective homes for a “shabbos shluff.” Make sure there are enough pretzels, cookies and card games to keep the kids occupied. And enough hot water for coffee and when the adults wake up.
Come together again for the 3rd meal. Finish the wine that’s left over from Friday night that was too difficult (for some) to even look at during lunch… pour generously for all interested parties. Say “L’chaim” and mean it.
Share havladah together. Pick fresh herbs from the garden outside – breath deep and say “Amen” loud and slow. It’s a new week.
Meet back up at bat mitzvah girl’s house for a kumzits. Go ahead, let the kids stay up past their bed times – then at 11:30 sharp get them to bed so big people can have big people time around the fire. If a little one does resurface at anytime after 11:30 and finds his or her way into adult-fire time, consider using the phrase “I was just lighting that for Mike.”
Stay up late, like maybe even until sunrise, because life is unpredictable and it’s not every day that you get to stay up talking, laughing and learning with some of your best friends in the whole world in honor of such a joyous life event.
Ready yourself to witness a sheep slaughtering…
As per the bat mitzvah girl’s request – this will likely have NOTHING to do with her bat mitzvah – but since all of Daddy’s buddies are here anyway, feel free to contact your local shepherd, purchase a sheep, hire a shochet, construct a “kill zone,” and build a spit in your backyard.
Use the word “kill zone” as often as possible throughout the day.
Prepare the youngins’ for what to expect. Trust that they have a better handle on nature than most adults. Let them know that if they are feeling squeamish, they are free to leave, but those who stay must speak and act with respect for this animal’s sacrifice. Attendance is purely optional, but highly recommended for those who are into it.
Make sure the shochet is kind, loving, compassionate, holy, G-d fearing Jew that wears Dickies like Billy Joel in Uptown Girl.
Do make sure that the sun tanned, boot-legged, beautiful shepherd-boy/man who holds the sheep has a half smoked cigarette in his mouth throughout the entire process. It really does add quite a bit to the authenticity and general ruggedness of the whole experience.
Watch in fascination and gratitude as something that you may have originally perceived to be barbaric and aggressive unfolds to be a profoundly beautiful and holy experience. Marvel at the wonders of creation as the shochet checks each organ and prepares them for your dinner. Marvel at the mindfulness you swear you will have from now-on every time you eat meat.
If you’re a lady and less interested in turning the spit over the fire, steal away to the Kinneret for a quick dip mid day while the fabulous older cousins entertain the kids with a homemade tye-die project.
Cheer, applaud and raise your glass (yes, you still have a drink in your hand) when the sheep makes it off the spit and onto the carving table. Bless the G-d that made that sheep and the sheep that made your meal. Eat in good health, with mindfulness, gratitude and joy.
Stick around for a bit – enjoy the lingering embers of the fire that brings you back to an elemental, natural, steady place.
Hold all of this in your heart, in your lungs in your soul for as long as you can.
Exhale when you’re ready.
Shmuel, Shaielle and friends –
It was beyond epic. Thank you all for coming together and sharing yourselves. We’re all better for knowing each other.
G-d bless –