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Mitzvah Market Magazine: A Year In The Life Of A Bat Mitzvah Girl

Mitzvah Market Magazine: A Year In The Life Of A Bat Mitzvah Girl

By Penelope Sheer

As a Jewish, thirteen-year old girl, you better believe that I have been to a lot of Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. My calendar has been filled almost every weekend. Sometimes, I’ve even had two or three services and parties to go to, and I have to choose between them.

Bat Mitzvah season is the year when everything changes. Suddenly, invitations pile up. The fridge is covered with them., My social life has gone crazy! The parties are new and exciting. Girls and guys are mingling, and friendships are forming.

After morning services, on Saturday nights we go to clubs, hotels, and ballrooms. It wasn’t like anything I have ever done. Most Saturday nights before my friends and I turned 13, I’d stay in and watch Netflix with my girlfriends and order a pizza. Now, I’m usually out till at least midnight or later. And then it’s time to start again the next Saturday.

I lost my voice every weekend from all of the singing and screaming over the DJ’s music. But who cared… it was so much fun.

In order to prepare for my new social life, my friends and I went on shopping sprees, buying many different versions of black dresses that basically all look the same. Most of us had at least 10 of them so we didn’t have to wear the same thing every weekend.

We bought tall heels that were impossible to walk in… and then we took them off as soon as we got on the dance floor and put on the socks that usually got handed out. We spent hours on our hair and make-up.

It was so exciting to get glammed up with my friends, hang out with boys, dance to my favorite songs, and stay out so late.

At my first Bat Mitzvah of the season, I had no idea what to expect. I prepared for hours. This was my first girl-boy party. At all the other birthday celebrations I had been to, it was just girls going out to dinner, or maybe having a sleepover. Going into this party, I had no idea of the extravagant Bat Mitzvahs that I was to encounter.

This year, I’ve been to at least 30 Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. With a few exceptions, most of the parties are the same. There is a cocktail hour, where most kids walk around drinking soda, Shirley Temples, or mocktails named after the girl or boy we are celebrating; (I had “Pina-Lope Coladas”), snacking on appetizers, and waiting for the party to begin. There is always a photo-booth where you can take tons of goofy pictures. There is a meal and dessert to follow. Usually for the kids there are sliders, mac and cheese, and Caesar salad. Desserts can be outrageous – donut walls, candy bars, cotton candy machines, and rolled ice cream stations. One friend had a Cookie Monster cake and others were at least six tiers.

There is a montage, where everyone oohs and aahs over baby pictures. There are male and female dancers who get the party moving. Sometimes there’s a magician, a caricaturist, or a glow-in-the-dark face painter.

Then there are the presentations. These are usually done at Bat Mitzvahs, where the girl’s best friends prepare speeches and gifts such as blankets, pillows, and posters with funny sayings, inside jokes, photos, and special personal messages.

There are games, like Coke and Pepsi that involve running around with a partner till the last couple is left standing. There is always dancing to the same rap and party songs where we know all of the lyrics. Everyone makes their way to the dance floor and jumps up and down, screaming the words to their favorite music for hours. I’m right in there, busting out my best moves.

And then there is always merchandise. I have so much stuff, I can’t even begin to count it all. My closet is overflowing with all the hoodies from these parties. I have pop sockets, fuzzy socks, pajama pants, blankets, beanies, baseball caps, t-shirts, sweatpants, long sleeve shirts, sunglasses, bucket hats, and quarter-zipped sweatshirts with my friend’s names and the date of their celebration. I have never left a Bar or Bat Mitzvah empty handed.

Some of the parties have definitely been over the top. At one, there was bungee jumping during the cocktail hour. At another, the Bat Mitzvah girl entered the room on a giant rainbow pool float. One girl had a professional music video filmed just for the night and I’ve seen girls wearing long white dresses resembling wedding gowns.

There have been silent disco raves, virtual reality roller coaster experiences, and live performances from famous musicians. Can you believe Cardi B made a surprise appearance at my friend’s party, but I missed it! I had to leave early because I had to go to another Bat Mitzvah.

Unfortunately, I think the idea of celebrating the Jewish coming-of-age milestone has been virtually lost in the planning of some of these over-the-top parties. Kids deserve to be rewarded for all the work they do studying and learning Hebrew and their Torah portions, and doing mitzvah projects, but they sometimes seem to forget what the whole celebration is really all about and the meaning behind it.

You might think I would be sick of these Bar and Bat Mitzvahs by now. In a sense, I’m worn out. However, this year was life-changing for me. I got a chance to socialize with the kids in my grade outside of school. I got an excuse to visit my camp friends who live far away. Every weekend, I always had a party to look forward to. It was a social experience that I will never forget. My own Bat Mitzvah was the best night of my life.

I made the most of every second of every party. No matter how many times I heard the same song, I sang it as loud as I could. For every girl my age, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs are a chance to come out of your shell and make new friends… which I did.

This year was a pretty significant one for a girl like me. I was able to have unapologetic fun every Saturday night. I gained confidence in myself. I made everlasting memories. I will miss this mitzvah season.

Now, I wonder, what am I going to do every Saturday night?

Mitzvah Market Magazine 2019-2020

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