November 2015

Mazel & Mishagoss


By Stephanie D. Lewis


“Today I am a man. But I listen to my mom and make my bed.” That was the beginning of my son’s Bar Mitzvah speech. There’s no question parents are still in charge of 13 year-olds, but ever stop to think how much control they exert over the Bar/Bat Mitzvah itself?

In the 2006 movie Keeping Up With The Steins, scenes of a Titanic themed Bar Mitzvah depict how over-the-top some parents become conceptualizing these milestones. I’d justify the director chose Titanic for jokes about Goldbergs, Rosenbergs and Icebergs ­­­—but nobody asks me for analysis.

Nonetheless, most of the time it’s parents (and by parents, I mean mothers!) influencing the way these simchas unfold; and if pressed (and they’re honest) might admit secretly orchestrating these occasions for their own age group rather than their child’s. Some families resort to separate locations so adolescents can stomp, whoop, holler, (dipping hands in wax to their heart’s content!) without platters of earplugs for adults.

Here are themes for adults (catering to our own issues) in case you never got your turn at 13.



This theme needn’t be depressing at all; it can be energizing and lively. Choose beautiful but fragile gray paper for the invitation and crumple it in a wad so it gets nicely wrinkled. Construct centerpieces of reading glasses on chains placed at jaunty angles atop orange Metamucil containers. Serve an entrée called “Past Your Prime-Rib.” Beverages include coffee/iced tea and Dr. Pepper, which is available by appointment only. Lift people up and down in wheelchairs during the Hora.


Losing Weight

Direct guests to sit at the Sugar-Free, Fat-Free, Sodium-Free, or Gluten-Free table with place cards shaped like scales. Project Jenny Craig’s picture onto the dance floor. Use measuring tapes (for checking lost inches) as napkin rings. Serve Opti-Fast chocolate shakes (613 calories) in beautiful crystal goblets. And nothing else.


Dad’s Stock Market

Bulls and Bears comprise the masculine room décor because it’s a jungle on Wall Street. Serve Mergers, Burgers & Acquisitions. Hire a live band to crash cymbals together throughout lunch because it’s only a matter of time until history repeats with the crash of 1929. Party favors? Shares of Levi Strauss, since he was Jewish!


Who Do You Think I Am, The Maid?

Squeaky-clean theme moms will relate to! Place “Welcome!” mats for guests to wipe their feet as they enter and immediately separate people into lights, darks, and colorfasts. Waiters dressed up as Mr. Clean, The Tidy-Bowl Man, and Madge The Manicurist lookalikes stroll around pointing at bowls of matzo ball soup, advising guests, “You’re soaking in it!” Strategically place beautiful blue Windex bottles and rags on all tables so guests can wipe up after themselves. To emphasize Judaism, hang a banner proclaiming, “Cleanliness is Next to Godliness.”


Midlife Crisis

Engrave invitations on Red Ferrari brochures. Craft clever centerpieces out of gold chains, hairpieces, and Botox injection syringes. Make sure entrée plates are mirrored so guests can keep glimpsing their own reflections as needed. Print Jewish marriage vows on cocktail napkins for added reinforcement.


Mom’s Day At the Spa

Book La Costa Resort & Spa and redecorate it to look like Israel. Photographs will look awesome with guests wearing Dead Sea mud masks.


The Wedding We Never Had!

And why not?



Napkins folded/creased like fans for hot flashes. Perch plates on pillows for unexpected naps. Serve Black Cohash squash gently sautéed in Evening Primrose Oil. Have the DJ announce that Sarah gave birth to Isaac when she was only 91. Oy!


Stephanie D. Lewis writes for The Huffington Post and has a humor blog at Follow her on Twitter @MissMenopause


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  1. Very funny! Planned 2 of those “shindigs” for my kids — my turn next!

  2. OMG, Stephanie! You make me laugh so hard and that is no easy task. I’m not Jewish so I’m still learning some of the terminology and may have to consult you regarding ceremonial observations and if I am laughing at the appropriate thing. Being Catholic (no more, no, just no) until my mid-teens, we’re pretty much forced to never laugh at anything at anytime so we tend to grow up laughing at the most inappropriate things at the most inappropriate times.

    Past your prime rib lol



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