Rethinking Bar Mitzvahs


In reference to your editorial “Brace Yourself for Bar Mitzvah Season” in the Sept. 14 issue of the Great Neck Record, I have a suggestion for the mom whose child was invited to 76 bar mitzvahs and all the families throwing those parties. Becoming bar mitzvah should not be about lavish parties and raking in gifts. It’s about a young person taking on some of the responsibilities of being an adult.

That begins with realizing that we all have a duty to look out for each other. It begins not with taking but with giving. It begins by sharing the blessings we have with those who have less.

In place of party favors, one family gave this note to all of its guests: “To our Family and Friends, Let all of us remember that our home is the community in which we live, and our family is all the people within that community. With this in mind, we have made a donation in your name and in honor of our son becoming bar mitzvah to the Interfaith Nutrition Network. Let no one ever say we allowed members
of our family to go hungry, while there was still food on our table.”

In addition to the monetary donation, her son also conducted a food drive that collected more than 100 pounds of nonperishable food items. At a time when this family was celebrating its personal joy, it remembered and reached out to help people in need. What a wonderful, thoughtful, caring thing to do—and what a marvelous example for the boy, his friends and the guests.

Recently, I was invited to the bar/bat mitzvah of twins and faced the usual gift dilemma. I contacted the parents and asked them to have their children choose a charity and I would make a donation to that charity in their honor. That way, the twins made the choice of where the donation would go. They felt good about the gift and so did I.

As our sages remind us, “Blessed are those who share with those who have less.”


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