Eleanor Koch celebrated her Bat Mitzvah on September 10, 2011 (that’s 9/10/11) at Congregation Micah in Nashville, Tennessee.
She was more interested in the religious aspect of her Bat Mitzvah than her party. When her parents offered to take her to Israel in honor of her momentous occasion she responded, “I am the only Jewish student in my grade of 54 children. I represent my faith, my ancestors, and all that Judaism stands for. If I don’t have my Bat Mitzvah here in Nashville, my friends might never experience or understand the importance and holiness of this life cycle event.”
Needless to say, they moved ahead with her Bat Mitzvah party in Nashville! Her Mom reports: “Great news, a new Jewish student has since moved to her school from Boston and DOUBLED the Jewish population in her grade!”
Pictured left (L-R) Mom Rachel, Bat Mitzvah girl Eleanor, Dad Jack and younger brother Carter
All party photography was by friend of the family, Lori Landsberg and the rest of the vendors are listed at the bottom of this spotlight.
Although Nashville has many wonderful options for exciting party venues, they chose to hold Eleanor’s Kiddush luncheon and dance in their synagogue’s social hall. Mom Rachel tells Mitzvah Market, “We hoped that by keeping the entire celebration within our synagogue, all of our ‘life cycle’ experiences, from our most celebratory to our deepest moments of sadness, have and will continue to happen within these walls. It all comes together to create a strong feeling of a Jewish “home” and a deep connection to our community.”
Eleanor at her service
As reported by her Mom, one of the most beautiful and truly amazing aspects of Eleanor’s Bat Mitzvah was the support she received from those both near and far and the diversity within that range! Eleanor’s Mom is the chairperson of Nashville’s ‘Partnership 2Gether’ program (a program that focuses on creating bonds of friendship and connection between the United States and Israel) and they have many friends in Israel. Some friends traveled from Israel and others were able to watch Eleanor’s Bat Mitzvah by Web Stream! Also, one of Eleanor’s dearest school friend is Muslim. She and her family attended, along with their extended family visiting from Turkey. Her Mom says, “To see so many people of different faiths come together to support and celebrate with Eleanor was extremely heartwarming and inspirational!”
Once her Bat Mitzvah service was over, a very fun and successful party ensued!
As guests moved from the service to the party, they found a Picture This Nashville photo “booth.” This also served as her sign-in book/board. Above was her customized screen
Eleanor and her Mom pose for a special picture
Eleanor’s friends have fun taking their picture in a frame!
Friends put on the props and have fun!
Louis Lee Entertainment provided the music with Louis as the MC. There was also a visit from Nashville’s Israeli Folk Dancers.
Louis (far left) got all the kids dancing!
Bat Mitzvah girl Eleanor is up in the chair for the horah
Here is the crowd participating in the Israeli dance
Their Events Coordinator/Decorator Diane Kimbrough has known Eleanor her entire life and met with her several times to discuss what she wanted for her celebration. Much of that discussion included Eleanor’s love of nature and other ideas that would capture her passions and bring the outside indoors!
Every centerpiece was unique, even down to tiny woodland animals and aged pages from old botanical field guides
The dessert table was the highlight of the décor:
Friends and family made all the desserts, keeping in mind what they knew Eleanor would love!
Realistic chocolate rocks filled hand-turned wooden bowls (made by a member of the family) and nuts and seeds filled small antique birdbaths!
There were candy raccoons, mice, and hedgehogs, and a cake shaped as a log that was adorned with cocoa dusted meringue mushrooms
An edible camp fire featuring chocolate kisses, pretzel rods and logs!
Here’s some Mom-to-Mom advice from Rachel:
“Let people help you! I loved planning my children’s events when they were younger, but now I work full-time. I had hoped to be fully involved with my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah but as the big event crept up, I realized I needed help…a LOT of help! I hired an event planner who happened to be a dear friend. She knew my daughter very well. I loved that she checked in with my daughter often and showed us what she had purchased/collected periodically. That way we knew we all had the same vision. She was great at calming me when I felt panicked and could gently nudge me when it was time to make big decisions. Elaine, from Picture This Nashville, was also wonderful at assuring me we were on schedule and that everything would be okay. She told me when to wait and when to act.”
She adds, “Another aspect of the Bat Mitzvah for which I wasn’t prepared, was the time commitment of my child’s thank you notes! I would recommend allocating the time your child is/was already using to study for the B’nai Mitzvah, and have them continue to use that daily/weekly block of time after the event to write thank you notes. In other words, if they are on a study schedule (daily or weekly), continue to block off that time slot in their calendars to use for the work that begins AFTER the event.”
As mentioned, Eleanor LOVES animals and nature. She began volunteering at Warner Park Nature Center well over a year in advance of her Bat Mitzvah. She spent every Saturday morning taking care of the bird feeding stations and bird blind within the park…no matter the weather. She spent innumerable hours cleaning and refilling bird feeders and birdbaths and assisting with nature park events such as hummingbird banding and Junior Naturalist programs. In addition to her volunteer hours, she donated enough money to begin an “Eleanor Koch B’nai Tzedek” fund at the Jewish Federation of Nashville. She will also be donating a percentage of her Bat Mitzvah monetary gifts to the Warner Park Nature Center in Nashville and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.
Here is a list of vendors who helped to make Eleanor’s Bat Mitzvah special. If you call any of them, please make sure you let them know you read about their services on MitzvahMarket.com.
Venue: Congregation Micah
Event Planner: Diane Kimbrough, firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo booth: Elaine Pardo, Picture This Nashville
Sign-In board: Picture This Nashville
Music Entertainment: DJ Louis, Louis Lee Entertainment
Party Entertainment: Nashville Israeli Folk Dancers
Caterer: Kevin Alexandroni, SOVA Catering
Photography: friend of the family, Lori Landsberg
Slideshow: Jack Koch, Bokeh Tov Photography
Invitations: Marla Love with Zazzle.com