An Outdoor Covid Safe Bar Mitzvah in California

An Outdoor Covid Safe Bar Mitzvah in California

An Outdoor Covid Safe Bar Mitzvah in California

The Friedman family (pictured above) successfully hosted a hybrid/in-person Bar Mitzvah event that was not only “covid legal” but actually “covid safe” for their son Jason. They were very clear in what they expected of guests and their guests complied. Mom Meredith explains further, “I was very specific, no hugging, even in pictures – with anyone outside your household.” She continues, “It wasn’t nearly as awkward as I had feared and it went by so fast. We also only kept it to around 2 hours – again for safety.”

Their Bar Mitzvah service consisted of approximately 30 guests (10 households) outdoors in the garden of their synagogue. Immediately following, they took those same 30 guests plus one more family to a celebration at Cal Shakes, a local outdoor theatre venue in Orinda, California. The space has large picnic tables spread far apart from one another, and each household had their own table for social distancing. One table was even a guest of ONE! Each household’s meal and drinks were pre-set in picnic baskets before their arrival. 

In addition to lunch, they had a hybrid in-person/zoom celebration hosted by their DJ. In a short and condensed format, the celebration included a welcome speech, a sand ceremony (similar to a candle lighting), a mother/son dance, and a modified hora. The Bar Mitzvah boy was lifted into a chair, but there was no group dance in a circle.

To encourage cooperation by the “teens,” each was invited to attend with a parent/chaperone. Everyone who attended seemed to really enjoy the opportunity to not only celebrate Jason, but to also spend quality time with their families in a unique social setting where it felt OK to relax and have fun in public with others. A unique situation during the current world conditions.

Mitzvah Service and Celebration

Mitzvah Advice from Mom Meredith

Having a “hybrid” event was more complicated than you would think, both technically and emotionally. Running a zoom only event from indoors is fairly straightforward, but trying to incorporate a two-way feed of video and audio to guests both on zoom and in person really requires an AV expert, so be sure to hire one – even if it’s in addition to a DJ. Have backup systems in place to record your event, even if the professionals appear to have it covered. (Anyone can record video on their own computer screen using simple free programs like Quicktime.) What we’re trying to accomplish requires a huge amount of bandwidth and data – more than many laptops can handle. Don’t forget to “visit” with your zoom guests, which can be hard to remember to do if you’re also hosting live guests. Think of them as another table at the event, grab a laptop, and sit down with them for a few minutes. We didn’t think to do this, and regret that we missed out on that interaction.  This will allow zoom guests to feel more like participants and less like spectators.

Mitzvah Project

Jason designed and built face shields using acetate and foam for use as PPE. He made over 30 face shields and sold them locally for $10-$15 each. Between sales and additional donations, he collected $500 through a Go Fund Me to support the Contra Costa Food Bank, that feeds over 1000 children, seniors, and family every week. 

Bar Mitzvah Vendors

Venue: Cal Shakes, 510-548-9666
Party Planner: Simcha Sisters, 925-487-5009
Music Entertainment: AG Productions, 925-322-0849
Photographer: Clayton Mitchell, 510-812-8887
Food: Catering by Wilma Lott, 925-372-8612
Invitations: Simply To Impress, 800-779-6177
Decor: Balloon Thrills, 925-383-6961
Rentals: C&M Party Props, 925-934-3181
Sign-In: Photo Picture Mat from Michaels
Dress: Designs 2 Consign, 925-247-5623
Suits: Men’s Warehouse

Posted in Mitzvah Spotlight, Family, Mitzvah Spotlight