Connecting Generations of Family After the B’nai Mitzvah  | MitzvahMarket

Connecting Generations of Family Long After the B’nai Mitzvah 

Connecting Generations of Family Long After the B’nai Mitzvah 

Connecting Generations of Family Long After the B’nai Mitzvah 

By Drew Isserlis Kramer 

The modern American family is nuclear. A parent or parents live together with their children until the children leave the nest and often the state. Once upon a time, in a shtetl in Eastern Europe, extended families lived in tight-knit, close communities, collaborating in home and business life from cradle to the grave. As daily life became more global, extended families spread to far corners of the world, seeking freedom, fortunes and fulfillment outside the family unit. Leaving behind old traditions and old connections, modern Jewish families look to life course milestones to come together.  Today, a b’nai mitzvah is one of the few occasions in Jewish life for long-lost aunts, uncles, and cousins to resurface in celebration of life and family. After the blessings are read, the chairs are lifted and the dance party fades to the airline gates, many extended families wonder how to keep the magic of togetherness alive in our modern era of connected disconnection. Below is an overview of how many families strive to maintain the closeness in an increasingly distant world. 

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The most obvious solution requires the Internet. Depending on the technological literacy of the group, choose a platform that will be accessible to the masses. A Facebook group, an Apple Photo Stream, or an email list serve might not be sexy, but it is an easy way to keep the generations in touch. Use the platform of choice as a forum to share photos and videos from the b’nai mitzvah, keeping the good vibes of the weekend alive once everyone is back in the swing of their regular lives. When the kvelling and kibitzing dies down, revive conversation by regularly sharing content. Surface old photos of relatives long gone but not forgotten. Tag relatives in amusing outtakes from the b’nai mitzvah event. Drive discussion of old stories and family legends. Engage in analysis of who from the youngest generation resembles Papa and Bubbie. May their memories be a blessing. 


When photo and text exchanges aren’t enough, turn to Facetime and Zoom for face-to-face interactions. Since Jewish tradition brought the family together in person, use the calendar of Jewish holidays to ensure a regular reason for deeper connection. Before beginning your offline family meal, all can log into Zoom for a collective blessing over the challah or wine. If your family’s observance allows for screens, Shabbat can become a weekly occasion for bonding. The Shabbat tradition has long been considered a mechanism for sustaining the 4,000 year-old religion. As the founder of cultural Zionistm Ahad Ha’am famously said, “more than Jews have kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jews.” Likewise, Shabbat serves as a regular pause for families to unite.


Other platforms exist to make sure that photos and stories remain alive. Use or to connect through family history. Use Storyworth to preserve and share family stories for generations to come. Gift gorgeous bound photo books of your event photos with Artifact Uprising. Today there are so many ways to keep memories, stories, and relationships alive, if you care to invest the time. 


If you want your extended family to stay connected long after your child’s b’nai mitzvah, take the lead and show them how it is done. Be the person who is willing to spend time making the plans, coordinating the schedules, implementing the technology, sharing the pictures, and cooking the meals. The Jewish tradition gives families numerous opportunities throughout the year to gather and remember, but without one member taking the initiative, momentum and relationships will be lost. If you are still reading, that individual must be you. Teach your family members to value their history, their faith, and their traditions by modeling this commitment. Now more than ever, in the wake of the terror attacks in Israel as worldwide antisemitism rages, family and tradition feel more important than ever. While it takes work to keep relations alive, the sense of stability and security that it promotes is worth the effort. The investment in family nurtures the soul, developing emotional well-being and a sense of identity and belonging that transcends time and place. 

Photo: Photo by Askar Abayev,

Posted in Editorial, Mitzvah Advice, Mitzvah Ideas and tagged , .