Bat Mitzvah In The Garage

Bat Mitzvah In The Garage

Bat Mitzvah In The Garage

By Tanya Singer, a Mitzvah Mom

While our daughter Abigael never wanted a giant Bat Mitzvah party, she certainly never imagined a legal maximum of ten people could be gathered for her big day – or that her venue would be our garage!

Pictured above (L-R): Dad Jonathan, Bat Mitzvah girl Abigael, mom Tanya and brother Samuel. Sarah Merians Photography & Video was the photographer and the rest of the vendors are listed at the bottom.

Before the Pandemic, we researched and liked a large venue but Abigael hoped for something a bit more intimate. We planned to host her Bat Mitzvah at a local restaurant, with 100 friends and family present. As soon as the pandemic hit, that restaurant stopped returning calls and emails. Within a couple of months, news came out that they were bankrupt.

As her Bat Mitzvah drew near, family and friends were sure they would come celebrate no matter what. As fall drew to a close, Covid-19 rates began to spike and in advance of our daughter’s 13th birthday and Thanksgiving, New York State Governor Cuomo mandated at home gatherings could include no more than 10 people.

Once again, in an experience quite familiar in 2020, we had to pivot and asked our daughter to do the same. With immuno-compromised parents, we decided to make safety the top priority. With that, the biggest open-air space we could think of that made sense was our garage.

Our garage was an unpainted mess. We called our contractor back, having completed our basement over the months of quarantine, and asked if he could make our garage a bright white box. My handy husband hung what looks like a zip line and I ordered white outdoor curtains on Amazon. My husband, determined to make the space fun, ordered a set of up lights as well.

Balloon Artistry made our front porch into the perfect photo spot with an organic balloon arch that picked up the colors in Abigael’s watercolor logo. When I was nervous about needing more color in the garage, Balloon Artistry created a big logo-inspired sign for Abigael, dropping the date to extend its shelf life. The company also provided incredible ombre balloons which picked up the lavenders in the logo design.

We picked up the lavender again with organza table cloths and napkins provided by West Side Party Rentals in Mount Vernon. Tables were finished with handmade pottery vases created by Abigael’s favorite pottery teacher, her Great Aunt Denise. The vases were made at The Potter’s Wheel in Queens, NY. The organic textured vases were the perfect vessels for the clustered purple, white, silver and green floral centerpieces created by Scarsdale Flower Boutique in Scarsdale, NY.

Expecting a very limited turn out, Abigael held zooms with family and friends and hosted small groups of in-person visitors on Sunday for 30-minute socially distant visits. Thankfully, Temple Israel Center of White Plains has been able to safely host small services in the Sanctuary and Abigael had the experience of chanting on the bimah. Close friends and grandparents received Havdalah sets by mail with hand-dipped candles like the one Abigael used in the service, to make them feel a part of the moment, even from home.

When Abigael asked me to create something she could wear on her big day, I was delighted. We chose yarn together at our favorite local shop, The Observatory Shop, in Hastings-on-Hudson. Once I made progress on her cabled shawl, I determined I had enough time to knit my own sweater for the big day. While there was so much that didn’t go according to plan, we both felt warm and cozy, even for outdoor photos without a jacket!

 

For those in the same position not sure if they should move forward with their child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah, I would say don’t wait to honor this moment. Here are 3 tips:

Include those who cannot be physically present – I created a binder filled with letters for Abigael by asking family and friends to handwrite letters which I put into a plastic sleeve for safe keeping. My mother-in-law did this for my husband in 1986 for his Bar Mitzvah and it’s incredible to read reflections from his family members who were 13 years old so long ago.

Make It Personal – Use your talents to make the event special. My aunt made the vases, I knit sweaters, and everyone (even those who couldn’t make it) had a hand in writing letters our daughter will have forever.

Speak Up – Our synagogue has not historically invited parents to address their children. During the pandemic, with so many guests joining online, that policy changed and we jumped at the chance to address Abigael on the service livestream. Address your child in a way that brings family members up-to-date and helps them feel closer to you and your child.

Mazel Tov! to the Singer family and we thank them for sharing Abigael’s Bat Mitzvah with us!

Bat Mitzvah Vendors

Venue: Family garage
Photographer: Sheila, Sarah Merians Photography & Video, 212-633-0502
Decor and Favors: Balloon Artistry, 845-352-2828
Invitations: Balloon Artistry & Paperless Post
Cake: By The Way Bakery, 914-478-0555
Florist: Scarsdale Flower Boutique, 914-732-0852
Vases: Pottery By Denis Matis
Table Cloths: Westside Party & Tent Rental, 914-664-6168
Tutor: Georgia Davis
Hair: Andrea Mendez, BLVD Scarsdale, 914-999-2583
Personalized Napkin Rings: Etsy
Suits: Brooks Brothers, Mens Wearhouse
Mom skirt: JCrew
Abigael skirt: Neiman Marcus
Handknit shawl and sweater: Knit by mom, with yarn from The Observatory Shop, 914-231-9061

Posted in Mitzvah Spotlight, Family, Mitzvah Spotlight