The Bar Mitzvah Challenge

My son, Danny has turned 11, so my mind has turned to all sorts of looming occasions:

  • Middle school
  • Puberty
  • Teenage neurosis
  • Bar Mitzvah

Now many of these I can’t control (and those who know me know I like my control), but I can try to give him the individualized and personal Bar Mitzvah experience he deserves.

I think.

Today was my first day trying, and it already hasn’t gone that well. I decided I will to keep this “diary” of our experience and see how it moves forward. At this rate we may end up in our backyard with a net as a dais and a yarmulke over his hockey helmet.

Day 1, 3/6/2012

Called Beth Tikhav, the Worthington, Ohio, synagogue to which we belonged 10 years ago when I was trying out the religious side of our culture. I explained when I called that I was as Jewish as Jewish people get, but I was not very religious, and I was seeking a non-traditional bar mitzvah experience that would work for my kid.

As soon as they said I needed to get a call back to talk about “membership” to the synagogue (a requirement of Bar Mitzvah), I should have known I was in trouble.

Suzanne called me back and said the first thing we needed to work out was my “outstanding amount,” of $50 and $25 educational fee for a religious class I was sure Danny had never taken since Danny has never taken a religion class in his life.

Then she said we’d also have to work out my membership agreement, which basically means, how much of your gross income are you ready and willing to dump in the synagogue coffers? And I knew from past experience they expected a lot more than I was willing to give.

Then I remembered why we stopped going to Beth Tikvah. Every call with them involved something about money. It was a little to stereotypical, if you ask me.

So I told that to Suzanne, who didn’t seem impressed. Then I said, “You know what? This didn’t exactly work for us the first time. And I am getting as sense that it would not work for us this time.”

She didn’t disagree.

On a more constructive note, I have a call into the rabbi at the Ohio State Hillel and the nice people at The Little Minyan, a Reconstructionist community, emailed back and provided me with another contact.

Meahel lekha mazal tov מאחל לך מזל טוב

(Wish me luck!)

One Response “The Bar Mitzvah Challenge” →
  1. Good luck – maybe the Unitarians have something. They have a very broad outlook on the world :).


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