By Marisa Thalberg, ExecutiveMoms.com
I’m excited to share my personal experience in planning my daughter Hannah’s Bat Mitzvah. In going through this process, I have had time to think about my own Bat Mitzvah. I wanted to share some of my memories….
It was one of the most glorious days of my adolescence, with roughly twice the number of friends and family together to celebrate my ascent into “womanhood” (as Jewish tradition would have it) than my husband and I would have between us at our wedding.
Perhaps because photos of my growing up are scattered, having an album of my Bat Mitzvah photos keeps the memories of that day that much more clarified in my mind than most others from those surrounding years. My father as it turned out would pass away only 7 years later; my favorite grandmother just 4 years after that, so the preserved sight of them laughing and reveling makes this event all that more special to me.
My family and I, on my Bat Mitzvah day in 1982
Flash forward to today, and it is a true sense of time warp. How could I be the parent now beginning to plan my own oldest daughter’s Bat Mitzvah? As typical busy, modern, New York parents, the role religion has played in our lives is hugely tempered, and arguably far more ambiguous than it was when I was growing up. In fact, right or wrong, one of our priorities in trying to find any kind of congregation to align with, was that it would offer our kids a just one-day-a-week religious school option, which felt proportionately acceptable to us relative to all the other activities that hold sway over our family’s calendars.
However, as suggested above, it is the realization that ultimately, my Bat Mitzvah remains such a seminal memory from my youth of family, love and tradition, that it is important to me that my girls have the opportunity to have this same milestone event, hopefully surrounded by those most special to us as well.
And that brings us to… the PLANNING of a Bat Mitzvah.
In NYC and perhaps even worse in the surrounding suburbs, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs have become wild extravaganzas – weddings on teenage steroids. My mother – who claimed a preference for tuna fish even as my dad aspired to give her caviar – was as I increasingly appreciate now, a visionary ahead of her time. In planning my Bat Mitzvah, her priority was to be budget-savvy yet resourceful. Her inspired venue? (which I’m sure I initially resisted) She convinced the private school I attended on Long Island (at which I was in a very small minority of Jews) to ‘rent’ us the space and let us convert the gym into a reception hall. In her mind this was a place with personal significance to my life, uniqueness, and appropriateness to a 13 year old vs. a standard catering hall.
As you can see, the exterior was as gorgeous as any venue one might ever choose
The party inside spared nothing – yet somehow was just RIGHT
All these years later, my tastes and style are quite different from my mother’s – yet I realize it will be her creative approach that I’m actually emulating in trying to plan for MY daughter a Bat Mitzvah that for HER turn, is also… just right.
ABOUT MARISA THALBERG
Marisa Thalberg is the founder of Executive Moms which for 11 years has provided content and community for fabulous women who are both professionals and mothers. An executive herself, she is also the head of corporate digital marketing worldwide for The Estée Lauder Companies. She has been widely acknowledged for her work on both fronts, including being named a Working Mother of the Year, an Advertising Age Woman to Watch, and a featured mother in UNICEF’s State of World’s Children report. She lives in Manhattan with her husband David and their two daughters Hannah, age 12 and Avery, age 7. She will be celebrating Hannah’s Bat Mitzvah in November 2013 and is blogging about her planning experience for both MitzvahMarket.com and on her blog.
Read about Hannah’s celebration here.