Now that our youngest is a freshman in college, and most of our friends' kids are well-beyond bar and bat mitzvah age, I feel liberated to speak out: our bar mitzvah culture is out of control. It is an unnecessary, extravagant, showy, inappropriate expenditure, which is done under peer expectation and pressure. It is an embarrassment to the Jewish people.
What does this bar mitzvah overkill say about us? What are our children learning from the bar and bat mitzvah experience? What are they ingesting about the values of Judaism and the Jewish people?
More than 100 guests sat in a sea of round banquet tables in a Studio City hotel, munching on fancy appetizers presented by waiters. A band warmed up. Kids crowded entertainment stations waiting for artists to personalize clothing and paint their faces.
I had been invited to a 1-year-old's birthday and was about to leave, convinced I'd accidentally entered a bar mitzvah reception. Then I saw David's mom, parading the sleepy birthday boy around in her arms.