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My Bar Mitzvah and Me

By July 3, 2015 March 9th, 2016 Blog-Leeds, Blog-Manchester

Leeds lad Joseph Brown looks back on his Bar Mitzvah weekend.

I remember almost every detail of my Bar Mitzvah weekend during the last weekend in October 2011. It all started on the Friday night, where we had a traditional Shabbat dinner, mainly for close family and visitors from out of town. I can just recall some relatives from places as far as Holland and Canada, you know the type of relatives you only ever see twice a year at an afternoon tea party, not to mention the fact we had a couple too many guests for the downstairs of our house to hold. So it was just a cramped place with some food where you had to talk to people who you were thrown with.


I went to bed about 11pm on that day, and I woke up the next day at 7am to get ready to go to shul. I got dressed in my suit and walked to shul with my family. Around 9am, the guests started filtering in, which really scared me as I had to sing in a foreign language in front of all of these people, most of whom who I knew quite well, and who had given me quite big gifts. I managed to control my nerves and made what the Rabbi called a “word perfect passage.” (I’m not sure if he just said that to be nice or if it was actually that good, I can’t remember much about it). The Kiddush followed, in which I had a tsunami of hands that I had to shake. I didn’t even look at the faces of these people; I just had to remove the hands from my walking passage.


But luckily after that was done it was time for the lunch do at our house, once again predominantly for out-of-towners. This was similar to the lunch in which I got embroiled with some incredibly weird conversations with people who were genuinely upset that I didn’t remember them after they visited just after my 1st birthday. In some ways it was worse, because I knew that after the Shabbat dinner last night I would just go straight to bed. But for the lunch, I was just waiting for all the guests to leave because I got the newly released FIFA 12 as a Bar mitzvah present! When they had all left at around 2:30pm, I think I just played FIFA for about four hours straight!


I wasn’t even looking at the time. I thought I had been playing for no longer than an hour. Then my Mum called in to say we were going in 30 minutes and to get ready. I rushed to put my suit on, and back to Etz Chaim we went. My family and I were stood at the front door shaking the hands of everyone who passed by; I think there were about 200 people there. I can’t remember what we had to eat, but I just remember the popcorn after the dessert.


The DJ who we were going to use had a stroke two months before the event, so we had to get an unknown replacement, who told so many inappropriate jokes and managed to alienate all of the rabbonim, which is quite an achievement! I don’t think he was used to the atmosphere of a Bar Mitzvah.


As soon as that ended, we had to clear everything up, meaning I ended up going to bed at around 3am. But that was the day when the clocks went back, meaning we got an extra hours sleep, so it wasn’t all that bad I suppose.


In the morning we had another lunch do, this time it was for anyone who was around and not bored of us from spending almost all of Friday night and Saturday with us, and it was a lot less informal. This time, instead of waiting for my family to leave so I could play FIFA, I played with them, and there were a lot less people because almost everyone had either gone home or were just sick of our hospitality!


Overall, I have quite fond memories from my Bar Mitzvah. And luckily, as it was in the middle of a two week half-term, I got to write all my thank-you’s instead of doing my homework!


Photographer: Howard Barnett