Sunday, April 14, 2013

Mazel Tov

I learned today that a Bar Mitzvah is like the Catholic sacrament of Confirmation, only with a better party and better gifts. We attended our second Bar Mitzvah ever for a friend's son in New Jersey. The temple was beautiful as was the service...solemn and joyous at the same time, and very family oriented. Jewish rites are similar to our Catholic ones; they have a sanctuary, they read from the scriptures, they sing and they pray for the sick in the congregation. A female rabbi led the service accompanied by a male cantor. The three young boys being ushered into manhood, Andrew, Zach and Scott, look properly serious as they chanted in Hebrew from the Torah.

Then the party started. After the ceremony we adjourned to the Grand Marquis in Old Bridge for what I can only describe as a wedding without a bride and groom. The banquet hall was magnificent, the food was excellent and the wait staff extremely attentive. The cocktail hour would have fed many smaller, third world countries. Then came the dinner which was delicious. Finally, an endless stream of desserts that put the finishing touches on my rapidly clogging arteries. There were 200 guests in attendance including 60 very energetic kids. The 13-year old girls in their skintight, thigh-high dresses looked 18, while the 13-year old boys, with their ties askew and shirt-tails out looked about 9. 

There was the obligatory, obnoxious D-J in charge of music. (I say music in the very loosest definition of that term.) To give you an idea of how loud they were, the wait staff circulated to the tables where older adults were seated and offered ear plugs to those who found the "music" too loud to bear. This is sadly the case at almost all functions where DJs preside these days. They play so loudly, yet no one tells them to bring it down. On the up side, the DJ and his entourage entertained the kids in-between noise explosions so the adults had a chance to get in a few words. There was also a very rude ventriloquist whose idea of fun was to ridicule the elderly members of the Bar Mitzvah boy's family as they came up to light candles of remembrance. Not nice.

It's amazing how celebrations for religious ceremonies like Communions, Confirmations and Bar Mitzvahs have escalated. We have been to parties for these occasions that far overshadow the weddings of 30 years ago. Everybody tries to outdo each other. These used to be pretty much family affairs with maybe a few invited friends; now they have become very ornate and elaborate affairs. I don't know how anyone can afford to spend 30 or 40 thousand dollars on them. I guess my old school values are kicking in. Even the weddings we've been to seem so over-the-top with no expense spared. I think back on the old "football" weddings we attended and the fun we had, not because they cost $200 a head, but because the people who were there didn't need to be entertained; they brought their fun along with them.

I very much enjoyed the Bar Mitzvah service, although I found out that rabbis like to hear themselves talk as much as priests. The boys and their families made this a beautiful ritual, and sitting in that temple, I was reminded that people of all faiths are more alike than they are different.


Children's Craniofacial Association


seashmore said...

Amen to that last statement!

Joseph Del Broccolo said...

Mazel Tov, you pen the truth! It seems that the passage to manhood is getting expensive!