Last week Hari’s friend since pre-school had his Bar Mitzvah ceremony.
This was my first time attending one, so I was eager to soak it all in. My very rudimentary knowledge about the ceremony was it was a special occasion, a rite of passage in the Jewish tradition. For the rest, we sought out Google’s guidance – how to dress for Bar Mitzvah? (women, dresses or pantsuits)? Is dressing in black acceptable? What gifts to give? (multiples of 18). So on and so forth.
Hari was slightly more experienced than I was when it comes to Bar Mitzvah, so of course I had to eat his brain away while driving – is the seating like in church? Do we have assigned seating? Are we allowed to talk? Can we take restroom breaks? What food do they serve? Hari indulged me initially but when he saw that my questions were growing by the second, he put things in perspective and devised an exit strategy, “Mom, I was in second grade when I went to Bar Mitzvah, so I don’t remember all the details.” Smart move child, smart move, I thought to myself.
We entered the synagogue right on time, and exchanged hello with the mom. I was dressed in a maroon sweater dress and black leggings, that did not seem over or under dressed. I saw that Hari’s friends were more formally dressed in suits, and tie whereas Hari was dressed in black and checked shirt. I made a mental note to get a khaki pant and a plain neutral colored shirt for the next ceremony. Overall, feeling pleased with myself, and heaving a sigh of relief, I mingled with familiar faces. I got a bit of education, how the ritual, the invitees and the protocol vary depending on whether you belong to orthodox or reformed sects. In orthodox following, I learned you do not get a Bar Mitzvah unless the mom is a jew. Non-jews are not allowed to the ceremony.
Next we headed to the prayer hall. We were given a prayer book and an agenda of the events. Hari and I were going to leave a little early so I sat in the last row with a couple of other moms. Hari had mentioned that the Rabbi had a good sense of humor and he lived up to it. The beginning of the ceremony was more spiritual in nature. He set the tone by asking all of us to take a minute to go to our happy place and express gratitude. Then the prayers and singing began. There were readings and taking the Torah in procession. The big moment was when the Bar Mitzvah child read the Aliyah from the Torah – that seemed to be the pivotal moment and the whole point of the ceremony. Although I knew very little about the ceremony, it felt emotional seeing the a child you have known from pre-school to come to this point. I felt fortunate to have been part of this ceremony and the big day of his life.
Hari and I left soon after that. For the kids, the cherry on the cake was the evening party. There was DJ, plenty of food, and what not! All in all, much fun was had.