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When Bar Mitzvah Dates Collide

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On Saturday night, I received a phone call from an acquaintance of mine -- the father of a boy that my stepdaughter went to school with -- that left me bewildered.

woman on phone in shock
Jennifer Ginsberg: "Hi, this is David's dad. I just found out that Haley's Bat Mitzvah is on the same day as David's."

"OK," I responded, waiting for the punch line. There was an awkward pause that I felt strangely obligated to fill, but for one of the few times in my life, I was truly speechless. Where was this conversation going?

He finally spoke: "Well ... we need to figure out what we're going to do because I'm sure we're inviting a lot of the same people."

"OK," I responded, still speechless. Bear in mind this was not a friend of mine, nor is his son a friend of my daughter's. They just happen to have some friends in common. I suppose I committed an incredible faux pas by not asking this man for permission when planning my daughter's Bat Mitzvah.

He continued, "Well ... we really need to figure this out, otherwise it's going to ruin both of our parties."

I finally put a coherent thought together. "How is it going to ruin their parties? I suppose David's friends will go to his party, and Haley's friends will go to hers."

He began to stutter. "Well ... is Haley's Bat Mitzvah date set in stone?"

Are you freaking kidding me? Set in stone? We scheduled the date over a year ago, I have family members from across the country who have already made plane and hotel reservations, and I have given deposits for the venue and caterer. Now this strange man is making a veiled demand that I change the date because it conflicts with his plans?

"Yes, of course it is," was all I could come up with.

"Well, if something changes, let me know." And with that, he hung up the phone.

Afterwards I thought of all the things I should have said, like, "I didn't realize I had to get your permission," and "Is David's date set in stone?"

It is remarkable that a man with whom I have never had more than a passing conversation felt entitled to call me out on this -- on a Saturday night, no less! I realize that it's probably annoying to him and his wife that the parties of our children are scheduled on the same day. I understand that the affluent and over-indulged friends of our children are going to have to do something terribly difficult and traumatic -- make a choice -- as to whose party they want to attend. I get the fact that in an ideal world, our social invitations would never conflict, and we wouldn't be forced to make such difficult decisions.

But in this day and age -- when most people are struggling to find a job, get food on the table, and simply get their families through another day -- is this an issue that warrants any more than a passing thought?

How blessed some folks are, that they have the time and energy to worry about a problem so insignificant in the grand scheme of things -- actually a "problem of abundance" -- when many children around the world are barely getting their basic needs met.

By the way, David's Dad, I am doing OK, considering my grandmother recently died and I am getting over strep throat. Thanks for asking.

next: Labor Day Beer Pairing
7 comments so far | Post a comment now
abbi September 6, 2009, 12:55 PM

what ever happened to momLOGIC?
now it just seems a bunch of random bitching disguised as lifestyle articles.

ame i. September 6, 2009, 3:38 PM

The date was scheduled over a year in advance, the caterer & venue have their deposits…she’s right, her step-daughter is spoiled and over-induldged.

abbi September 6, 2009, 5:02 PM

i love how she has the audacity to bring up people in this recession saying: “But in this day and age — when most people are struggling to find a job, get food on the table, and simply get their families through another day” while she’s complaining about an over-the-top party planned OVER A YEAR in advance for a teen.
must be nice for her types in “this day and age”.

MarMar September 7, 2009, 10:13 AM

I’m reading this differently. I’m reading this as amazement at how rude a relative stranger can be to call and hope that her daughter’s event could be moved to favor his son’s, without a thought to how that might be inconvenient to her daughter. And I think that calling out other parents on their rudeness and lack of manners does have a forum here - perhaps others who might be ready to make a similar call themselves will hesitate to do so, or someone who’s received a call like this will feel like she’s not alone. Oh, and nancyw - it’s 2009, and while the soup kitchen idea is a very nice one, let’s drop the name-calling and stereotyping, shall we?

J September 8, 2009, 6:03 AM

Obviously none of you are Jewish or understand how HUGE a Bar/Bat Mitzvah. It’s like if Christians rolled a baptism/communion/confirmation into one. It’s the biggest moment in a Jewish person’s life!! Seriously I’ve been to my fair share of baptisms that are HUGE HUGE extravaganzas and communions that have been planned out a year in advance. I’m sure none of you claled your children’s religious events “over indulgent” or felt your child was spoiled.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah dates are given out at least a year in advance (at my temple 2) in order for families to have time to arrange for travel and plan the event. Please don’t knock this huge life event until you understand that it means becoming an adult in the Jewish faith and becoming responsible for performing mitzvahs and following laws.

That dad was out of line to call, but unfortunately I’ve seen that happen before.

Hyman Rosen December 1, 2009, 7:48 AM

I’m currently involved in scheduling my son’s Bar Mitzvah *three years* before the date. There’s nothing self-indulgent about it. Realize that the ceremony needs to take place around the child’s birthday, and almost always on a Saturday. In a large Jewish school or synagogue, date conflicts are inevitable, and scheduling far ahead is necessary.

Ten Tees January 9, 2011, 11:16 AM

Interesting site. Good to read. I’ve got a small thing to offer about funny shirts.

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