Bar and Bat Mitzvahs: The Best Way to Party

image2After much debate over what I should discuss in this week’s blog entry, I decided to talk about Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. Now I can only talk about Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations in South Florida, because they are the only ones I have been to. However, based on conversations with my non-Florida Jew friends, the celebration can be quite different elsewhere in the country.

barmitzvahstockphotoLet me briefly explain what a Bar/Bat Mitzvah is. Think of the Quinceañera for Latin American girls and the debutante for the upper-class teen. Like these two celebrations, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah is the Jewish coming-of-age celebration. Bar Mitzvah is the term for males and Bat Mitzvah is the term for girls. Boys become a Bar Mitzvah at the age of 13, while girls can become a Bat Mitzvah at the age of 12, but most wait until they are 13.

While there is a common misconception that the party or reception is the Bar/Bat Mitzvah, the actual ceremony is what really matters. Would you have a wedding reception without tying the knot first? No. It just doesn’t make sense. Picture yourself at age 13, when you are at the most awkward stage in your life. You are just starting to go through puberty. Boys’ voices are cracking. The girls are taller than the boys and both sexes are getting acne. Now picture yourself chanting a song in another language up on a stage (or in Jewish terms, the bima*) with over 200 people staring at you. Talk about pressure! The only motivation to get through this awkward situation is the party that is only a few hours away that is 100% about you.

Open Bar or Bust!

Open Bar or Bust!

As sentimental as the ceremony is, the party is far and beyond the best part. Just like most weddings (99% of Jewish weddings), there is typically an open bar. Yup, that’s right – an open bar for a 13 year old’s coming-of-age party. The main reason the adults can stay sane while all of the crazy kids run around like wild monkeys.

Now that's an entrance.

Now that's an entrance.

After a normal cocktail hour the doors to the main event open up. Just like a wedding, the family and the Bar Mitzvah boy or the Bat Mitzvah girl are introduced to a super cheesy song like “This is Your Night.” This is then followed by the candle lighting ceremony. Thirteen tall candles are positioned on a stand that usually has something to do with the theme of the party. For example, my candles were in tea cups (this will make sense in the next paragraph where my theme is revealed). Each candle signifies a family member/group and/or close friends. It is an honor to get called up to light a candle. Each candle is presented with a cheesy poem and a song that represents the person/people lighting the candle. At the end of the ceremony, the candles are blown out like a birthday cake.

beth_kroman_bat_mitzvah_party0007-541x436Another cool thing about having a Bar/Bat Mitzvah is that at 13 years of age, you are in total control. Well almost. What I mean by this is that every party has a theme. Most boys choose a sports-related theme, while other common themes are movies, cars, music, etc. Girl’s themes range from candy to the telephone, to a 60’s theme and even my own theme, which was Ilene in Wonderland. I was originally going for a land where you walked in and everything was big, which then turned into an Alice in Wonderland inspired theme. My mom and I went all out – the place cards were little bottles of water with food coloring that said “Drink Me,” and the center pieces consisted of characters from Alice in Wonderland, which I drew myself, with brightly colored balloons and large foam floral arrangements. I honestly don’t know how the decorations at my wedding will top the way the room looked for my Bat Mitzvah party.

url4About 85% of the parties I went to when I was 13 had a really awesome DJ, while only a handful had a band. The DJ not only brought really hot 20-something year old dancers, but they also played games and gave out prizes, which is super awesome to any 13 year old kid. Only at a Bar Mitzvah will you get to play a giant game of Twister or the famous Coke and Pepsi game. Looking back on things, Coke and Pepsi is one of the most ridiculous games ever invented. The rules are simple – grab a partner and stand on opposite sides of the dance floor. The DJ will tell you which side is “Coke” and which side is “Pepsi.” When Coke is called out, the Coke side runs as fast as they can and sit on top of Pepsi’s lap and visa versa. There are other rules like “Sprite,” which means to freeze. The last person to get to the other side or the first to break the rules is out. Usually this game is fixed so the Bar or Bat Mitzvah kid wins.

I could go on and on about how awesome of a party you get as a Jew at 13 years of age, but I think this is definitely long enough. If I were a 13 year old non-Jew, I would totally convince my parents to let me convert so I could have a wedding-sized party thrown just for me without the commitment to join in holy matrimony. AMEN!

*Bima: the term for the stage in a synagogue

March 31, 2009. Uncategorized. 2 comments.

You will always be a bit Jew-ish…

Jew-ish?

Jew-ish?

In the Jewish faith, if your mother is Jewish, than you are too. I have a few friends who are Jewish by blood but in their mind they are not.  These are my friends that I like to call ‘Jew-ish’. While these friends may not go to temple or know a thing about the religion, they will never truly escape the mannerisms of their Jewish faith.

My favorite are apricot!

My favorite are apricot!

I have a girl friend who I like to call ‘the anti-Jew.’ My boyfriend Ryan and I even went so far as to unofficially kick her out of the tribe. She’s such a piss-poor Jew that she doesn’t even know what a *hamantaschen is. While she may tell people that she wishes she weren’t a Jew, she still fits the mold of one. Her parents and grandparents constantly pressure her to find a nice Jewish boy, which will never happen. We also like to joke about our stomach issues, which is something most Jews deal with. Lastly, her entire family consists of doctors and lawyers – the typical Jewish family.

colorcofa3I have another ‘Jew-ish’ friend who refuses to go to temple, but yet when he is sick he has to eat a bowl of matzo ball soup. While he can’t get past 2 dates with a Jewish girl, he went to Israel through the Birthright program. This friend did join a Jewish fraternity in college, however he always chose to fight for equal treatment of his Christian brethren and tried to ‘bring down the Jewish man’ as much as possible.

url3My other good friend doesn’t care so much about marrying a Jew, but he wants to *break the glass at his wedding for the sole purpose of showing up his brother, who missed at his wedding. This friend also spends the Jewish holidays eating classic Jew food with his family, yet I don’t think he has stepped in a temple since his Bar Mitzvah. How does this Jew-ish friend spend his Christmas night? He sticks with the Jewish tradition of Chinese food and a movie. What is one of his favorite drinks? Well that would be Dr. Brown’s Cream Soda – a staple in every Jewish deli. You do the math…

X-mas cookie?

X-mas cookie?

On the other end of the spectrum, I have a good friend who wishes he were a Jew. Back in college, his mom invited some of his Jewsish girl friends over to make Christmas cookies at their house. While myself and the two other girls were making Christmas tress and wreaths, my goyium friend was making menorahs. He also takes full advantage of coming to dinner for Passover, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur so he can enjoy the delicious briscuit, matzo ball soup and *kugel.

I also have another goyium friend who wrote an entire blog post on why he wants to join the Jewish faith. (*Read Chad’s 2nd blog entry, which you can find linked up to my blog on the right hand side of my page.)

To all of you Jew-ish people out there, you may try to escape the actual religion, but you will forever be a Jew at heart, whether you want to or not. So every time you slip up and say “oy vey” or call a handy man to change your lightbulb, remember your true heritage.

Say it loud, say it proud!

Say it loud, say it proud!

*Hamantaschen: Triangle shaped cookie with a yummy center spread that is eaten during the holiday of Purim. The center can be a fruit filling, like cherry or apricot, chocolate or poppy seed.

*Purim: The Jewish Halloween. The sole purpose of the holiday is to get dressed up in costumes and get drunk.

*Breaking the glass: It is a tradition for the groom to step on a piece of glass at the end of the wedding ceremony. This serves as an expression of sadness at the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, and identifies the couple with the spiritual and national destiny of the Jewish people.

*Kugel: Any one of a wide variety of traditional baked Jewish side dishes (potato) or desserts (noodle) consisting of ground or processed vegetables, fruit or other starches combined with a thickening agent (such as oil, egg or flour). It is sometimes translated as “pudding” or “casserole”.

March 24, 2009. Uncategorized. 3 comments.

Topics You Should Know When Talking to a Jew

I love my goyium friends! I especially love when I confuse the hell out of them by bringing up certain topics that they don’t have a clue as to what I am talking about. Well, I am here to enlighten you on these topics that everyone should know about, Jewish or not, when having a conversation with a Jew. This is especially helpful for first date chit-chat.

Sleep Away CampSleep Away Camp
During the time between the ages of 6 and 18, Jewish parents like to send their children away for 1 – 2 months to camp. While there are Jewish and non Jewish camps, most of the camps we attend have a majority of Jewish campers. For example, I attended Camp Pinewood in Hendersonville, NC for 5 summers. While this is not a “Jewish camp,” I would say about 98% of the campers were Jews. A number of my friends attended Jewish camps, like Ramah and Coleman, where they observed Shabbat* and said the prayers before and after they ate each meal. A common topic of conversation amongst Jews deals with camp – which camp we went to, why ours is the best, who we are still friends with from camp, etc. We also like to tell stories about camp, even though most of us haven’t gone since grade school.

USY on Wheels Bus C 1999

USY on Wheels Bus C 1999

Teen Tour
This is yet another way for Jewish parents to ‘get rid’ of their children for a summer. A teen tour involves a bus full of teenagers, usually between ages 14 and 17, traveling on a bus for 4-8 weeks. There are a number of teen tours out west that cover the American and Canadian Rockies. I went on a teen tour through my youth group (USY*) that consisted of 15 and 16 year old coeds on a bus across the entire continental United States, parts of Canada and even a day trip to Mexico. We started and ended in NYC – we made a loop around the outside boarders of the country, with stops in Ottawa, Toronto and Tijuana. Some of my other friends went through companies that started in California and made their way up to western Canada. I even had a friend who took a tour from Alaska to Hawaii by cruise ship. Other teen tours go out of the country, usually to Europe and Israel. Let’s just say if you are on a date with a Jewish person and you don’t know what a “teen tour” is, it’s a deal breaker.

Hanegev: the Southeast region of USY

Hanegev: the Southeast region of USY

Youth Group
Growing up, most Jewish parents encouraged their children to join a youth group. This is similar to the Christian youth groups, only we are Jews. Now I can only speak for USY because that is the youth group I was a part of, but my main concept of being involved in it was to go on weekend conventions* and hookup. I can’t tell you anything we were supposed to learn or the real meaning behind these trips, but rather I can tell you who made-out with whom at each convention and what drama it caused. I do have to say that I met a number of my life-long friends through USY. The common youth groups are USY, BBYO and Nifty – all for high school-aged kids. Both BBYO and Nifty are part of the reform synagogues, while USY is conservative. I believe there is an orthodox youth group, however, I do not know what it is called.

Sidenote: It is believed that our parents sent us to camp, on teen tours and to youth group so we could meet a nice Jewish boy/girl, date them and eventually get married. Most of the time, this worked.

images4Birthright
This is a free 10-day trip for college-aged Jews to go to Israel. If you are a Jew between ages 18 and 26, Jewish and Israeli foundations will sponsor you to go to Israel. While I personally did not have the opportunity to go on this trip as I was unqualified to apply because I spent a summer in Israel for 5 weeks with USY when I was 17, I did have a number of friends who took advantage of the program. You can only apply to go if you have not been to Israel on an “organized trip.” Despite the fighting between the Arabs and Israelis, parents see this as yet another excuse to send their kids away so they can not only learn about the history of the Jewish religion, but also so they can hookup with other Jews and hopefully find their future spouse.

url-2Jewish Geography
This is a Jewish person’s absolute FAVORITE game to play! Basically, we start off a conversation with a new person by asking where they are from, what high school, synagogue and camp they went to and eventually start naming people who have similar connections. If you both know the same person, you win! Believe it or not, it actually takes more skill to not have a single friend in common than to win. Bonus points if you win Jewish Geography and you aren’t a tribal member.

I hope I have helped enlighten you into common Jewish topics that we talk about with each other and especially with new people we meet. Hopefully, this will help you non Jews out on a first date. If anything, it will impress your date and leave a nice impression on them if you bring up these topics of discussion.

*Shabbat: The day of rest. Occurs every from Friday at sundown to Saturday at sundown.

*USY: Stands for United Synagogue Youth. This is the youth group through the Conversative* temples.

*Conservative: There are 3 main levels of Judaism – Reform, Conservative and Orthodox. Reform being the least religious, Orthodox being the most religious and Conservative being somewhere int he middle.

*Conventions: the fancy way for saying “let’s get all of the synagogue youth group chapters together for a weekend at a hotel and try and teach them something.”

March 16, 2009. Uncategorized. 3 comments.

The Telephone: A Jewish Girl’s Best Friend

girl Ever since I was a little girl, I have been attached to my phone. I had my own phone line, number and phone (with a cord) in my room since I was *Bat Mitzvahed – it was purple and I loved that darn thing! When my phone rang, I would literally sprint from the other side of my house just to get it before the person hung up (I didn’t have a machine). My parents and sister would always yell, “Run Ilene, run!” and then laugh at how I always answered my phone out of breath. I thought this was something only I did, but boy was I wrong.

You see, Jewish girls and their phones are BFFs. We can not live without our main source of gossip. Not to pick on my mom again, but I have many vivid memories of her with the cordless phone glued to her ear pacing from the kitchen to the living room to that room that no one was allowed in with shoes on and then back to the kitchen each and every day. Thinking back on this, I now realize I did the same exact thing in that same exact pattern. Clearly, it wasn’t just something in my family, but rather the phone habits of the majority of the Jewish female population.

Some may think that this is a bit of a stretch, but us Jewish females can attest that there is indeed phone etiquette for us *tribal members. Here is some insight on our phone etiquette, or rather, lack there of:

Let’s start from the beginning – answering the phone. We tend to answer the phone while we are still engaged in a current conversation. This causes the caller to want to know what and who could possibly be more important than their call, which of course leads to sharing gossip. If we answer the phone and the person is calling for someone else, we ALWAYS ask them to hold on and then scream for that person to pick up the phone. When screaming, we never 1. put the person on hold/mute, or 2. cover the phone. This is a full on scream into the phone so the person goes partially deaf for at least 30 seconds.

While carrying on a phone conversation, we like to use our hands. Obviously, we know the person on the other line can not see these motions. However, it does help us exaggerate our story to give it the full dramatic effect it deserves. After all, us Jewish girls work hard to get the latest and greatest gossip. We also tend pace constantly or talk loud enough so others become curious to our conversation. Jewish females love the sound of our own voice and love when others recognize that our stories are clearly the most exciting. Don’t be offended if you hear us munching or crunching while we talk, as this is a normality of both males and females – us Jews love to multitask.

We always, always, always answer our call waiting. No matter if we want to talk to the person on the other line or not, we must prove to those callers that we are an extremely popular source of knowledge. Going along those lines, if someone starts talking to us in the same room while we are on the phone, we must talk to them without telling the person on the phone to hold on. This will most likely confuse the caller, but again, we are way too popular and important and our time is precious and can not be wasted by their call.

When it is time to hang up, we always say goodbye a minimum of two times. If you are talking to family, than it is a minimum of three times. We always have to get at least one more word or story in before we are truly ready to hang up. Therefore, the first ‘goodbye’ is just a warning that there is at least one more juicy story or detail to discuss before we will actually be ready to hang up.

I hope I have helped enlighten you into the world of Jewish females and our love for our phones. This should be especially helpful for you *goys and Jewish boys who are in the process of courting a female tribal member.

I think I get it now...

I think I get it now...

*Bat Mitzvah: Of age (13). A Bar/Bat Mitzvah is the Jewish ceremony for becoming an adult. ‘Bat’ is for girls and ‘Bar’ is for boys. This ceremony happens at the age of 13, sometimes 12 for girls. Usually a large party is thrown to celebrate, but that’s an entirely different blog entry.
*Tribal members: Used to describe someone who is Jewish. Slang for Jews. Taken from members of the Maccabi tribe. Also commonly used as, “member of the tribe” and “The tribe.”
*Goy: The Hebrew and Yiddish term for someone who is not Jewish. Short for the word goyim.

March 10, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

My Mom: The Typical Jewish Mother

After work today, my mom called me, as she always does on her drive home. We proceeded with our normal conversation – “How was work? How’s Ryan (my boyfriend)? Are you getting married yet?” However, today my mother proceeded to talk about my blog. She asked me why I decided to start a blog and how was she a ‘typical Jewish mother?’ I replied to her second question with, “I think I will write a blog entry to answer your second question.” So here I am. Mom, this one is for you!

While there are no textbook qualities of a typical Jewish mother, I believe that if there were, my mom would definitely be on par.

Reason #1: There’s always enough, if not too much food at all gatherings. Every year my mom and dad host Thanksgiving at their house, and every year they end up eating leftovers through March. Also, if we go to someone else’s house and they do not have enough food for an army, my mom makes a comment along the line of, “well I guess next time we go to Jane Doe’s house, we will have to make sure we just eat something beforehand.”

Reason #2: My mom cannot go more than 24 hours without talking to me. This is definitely something that I love, but if I don’t answer my phone or call her back within a certain time frame, she gets worried that something bad has happened to me. Now what that something may be, who knows? But she never seems to think that maybe I am just in a movie or somewhere that is too loud to hear my phone ring. I have recently learned to quickly text her back after I see her missed call to let her know that I can’t talk at the moment so she isn’t worried.

Reason #3: I am 25 and still cannot go out of town without calling her. This involves me calling her when I leave for and when I arrive at my destination. Keep in mind that there are at least 5 calls while I am traveling by car. If I am flying somewhere, FORGET IT! I get at least 3 calls throughout the day asking me when I am leaving to go to MARTA (that’s the subway system in Atlanta for those who do not know) and if my plane is on time. Then she will call me a minimum of 4 times while I am in the airport, all before I have even gone through security. I then have to call her to tell her that my plane is on time and I am sitting at the gate and again once I have boarded the plane. As soon as I touch down, she must be the first person I call as well. Now mom, I love you for this but it definitely makes my travels a whole lot more stressful than they should be.

Reason #4: My mom knows everyone! I cannot go anywhere without my mom running into at least one person she knows. And when she runs into someone that she thinks I know, she will call me and say, “Do you know whom I ran into today?” I usually proceed with, “Mom, I have no idea who that is.” And she will actually reply with, “Yes you do! ‘So and so’ was your 5th grade teacher’s daughter’s old boyfriend. He came into your classroom that one time back in the 90’s to help me with my Class Mom duties.” Or something obscure like that. I usually change the subject.

Reason #5: My mom knows everything that is going on in everyone’s life. While I have to admit that I adapted this trait early on from her, she is WAY better at it than I am. My mom usually is the first to know which one of my friends from grade school is pregnant, getting married, getting divorced or got a boob job well before most people know, including me. I actually get a thrill when I call my mom to tell her news of something big, like a friend getting married, and she doesn’t already know about it. It’s such a sweet victory to me!

I could go on and on about this subject, but I won’t. I absolutely love my mom and her Jewish ways. I know that I will be just like her when I have kids and I will probably look back at this blog entry and laugh.

My mom and dad at my mom's 50th birthday dinner.

My mom and dad at my mom's 50th birthday dinner.

March 3, 2009. Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Is the economy affecting how we date?

With the economy down right now, I started to wonder how this is affecting the dating world. I know that my boyfriend and I have tried to cook more often and go out to dinner less.  We’ve also stopped seeing movies in the theater for $10 a pop unless it is something we absolutely can’t wait 6 months to watch on video.

So I am reaching out to my serial daters and asking what you are doing to save some cash but still enjoy your time out on dates.

Here are my recommendations for some economical date ideas:

  • Cook a romantic meal and rent a movie or check out the free ones On Demand (for those who have Comcast)
  • Go to a park, take a walk and just talk
  • Go to a park and have a picnic
  • Find a weekend event around town and go together (i.e. a festival)

Just because the economy sucks doesn’t mean your love life has to.

March 3, 2009. Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Jason Mesnick is NOT a nice Jewish boy.

Jerk!

Jerk!

For those of you who watched tonight’s Bachelor, I’m sure you were as pissed off as I was. Although I had read a blog a few days ago about how this whole thing was going to go down, I was unprepared for how inconsiderate Jason was to Melissa’s feelings. Did he really have to dump her on national TV and then minutes later get with Molly? I mean really?!? And how could a Jewish mother like his let him do such a thing? His mother even told him on the final episode that he gets Melissa and him as a couple. Did you hear her talk as highly about Molly? I think not. He should have stuck with his gut and trusted his mother. I wouldn’t be surprised if he breaks up with Molly in 3 months and goes crawling back to Deanna. Not cool. Not cool at all…

Until later, I will be on team Melissa until they announce her as the next Bachelorette after Jillian’s season.

Team Melissa

Team Melissa

March 3, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Why this blog subject?

I am a loud and proud Jewish girl. And anyone who meets me knows just that. I love the culture of this religion, the closeness of the Jewish community, the pride of our people and of course the food.I have my Jew Crew that is now spread out all across the country and even some overseas, and it is ever expanding. I have my pseudo Jew friends – the ones who aren’t members of the tribe but pretty much should be, and I have a stereotypical Jewish mother that I love and talk to, of course, every day.

For those of you who do know me might know that one of my favorite pastimes is setting up my friends. Whether I get a call from a friend telling me that she just moved to Philadelphia and does not know anyone there but her sister and is in need of some girl friends or a friend who is sick of JDating and wants to know if I “have a single friend for them”, I love ‘hooking people up’. I am also that friend you call when you have just experienced the most horrific JDate known to man so you can share your story and finally laugh about it with someone else. I don’t know why people seem to come to me with these things, but I certainly enjoy it.  And while it’s fun to share these things with my friends one-on-one, I figured that it would be even better to share them with the world.

As someone who is in a committed relationship with a nice Jewish boy, I am also the friend to come to for dating advice. I believe this is because I am VERY honest and will give my opinion on things whether you are ready to hear it or not. I’m the friend you take shopping because I will tell you when something just doesn’t look good. So don’t expect any sugarcoating in this blog!

I also love talking with my friends’ parents, family friends, my own mother and grandmother and any other Jewish adult about dating, the pressure they put on their children to marry a nice Jewish boy/girl and how things have changed or remained the same since they were out on the market. I think it is insightful as we all know that every Jewish girl becomes her mother and every Jewish boy is in search of someone just like their mother (and if not like them, then someone who their mother approves of).

Therefore, because I am tired of hearing “you should write a book” and doing nothing about it, I am taking action with this blog. So feel free to reach out to me directly with your questions on advice, horror and even successful JDate or just Jewish dating stories and anything else that you would like me to write about. I am open to just about anything. I also enjoy discussing dating outside the religion and the obstacles you will need to overcome to make it work.

Side note: I promise that all of the identities of the JDating stories being shared will remain anonymous unless the source gives me permission to use their true first name. So feel free to shoot me an email at Ilene.Silverberg@gmail.com and share your stories with me. It’s a good way to get it out and just laugh about the memories and also read about other people’s stories so you are reassured that you are not alone in these wacky adventures in Jewish dating.

images3 Oh the “symbol” of jewish dating…how could I not insert you.

March 3, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

March 3, 2009. Uncategorized. 1 comment.