I recently mentioned the growth of Destination Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations, especially those not in Israel. The trend is real and it is growing, but why? The reasons are not complex issues and truly make sense. Probably first on the list is the desire to get out of the “keeping up with the Cohens” attitude prevalent in many places today. The events have grown to gigantic proportions, with themes and special effects beyond what we could have thought of a few short years ago. Obviously, the costs have skyrocketed along with this. The guest lists have gotten as large as weddings along with the planning and angst that are part of huge affairs. Do these “parties” completely overshadow the true meaning of the day ? Perhaps!
I’m told that “public speaking” is one of the most prominent fears among people of all ages. Just imagine the feelings of many youngsters when asked to “perform” in front of a large crowd of people, many of whom he or she doesn’t even know. Is this the experience and memory we wish our children to have of this wonderful coming of age event? I think not! Let’s not forget for a moment our “special needs” children. Many synagogues are just not able to accommodate them by creating a service geared to the abilities of the individual child and family. All too often the synagogue program is designed to meet the abilities of most, but not all.
The advent of large numbers of interfaith families has also created a desire for “Destination Bar and Bat Mitzvah” services. The non Jewish parent and certainly the extended non Jewish family may feel more comfortable in a destination setting with a service that is centered on the celebrant and family rather than the synagogue. There are no questions as to who can participate and in what way. Along with interfaith families are the families who have experienced divorce or the loss of a parent. The Destination Bar or Bat Mitzvah eliminates the stress felt by a child in these instances.
What about the adult, man or woman, who for any reason was not able to mark their coming of age with a religious service built around them? The Destination Bar and Bat Mitzvah deals with that in a way that a synagogue just cannot do, combining the service with a vacation in a beautiful locale.
There are more reasons why and there are the positive attributes of not only the customized service but the location also that I will address in the next blog. Stay tuned and you may find yourself and family celebrating a Bar or Bat Mitzvah here in Mexico. There are a number of venues anxious to have you and yours !