Your coworker’s son is turning 13 and you’ve just been invited to your very first bar mitzvah. Mazel tov! – but what does that mysterious words even mean?
Obviously this is a huge event but you aren’t Jewish and you’ve never witnessed this sacred rite of passage. What should you do? What should you bring? Do you need to wear a hat? You feel like a meshugener and you don’t even know it!
Relax — we’ve whipped up a guide that any gentile (psst, that’s you) can peruse and easily use. Read our five simple tips and you’ll feel like part of the mishpocheh in no time.
At its core, Hanukkah is a holiday that celebrates the Jewish people’s resilience against opposition. The Greeks wanted the Jews to assimilate to their culture and tried to forbid them from worshiping in the Holy Temple. Yet, the Jews’ desire to maintain their identity was so strong that it motivated the Maccabees to battle Antiochus and the Greeks.
Basically, the Jews fought the law, and the law never won. Nowadays, many of us look at Hanukkah as the “Jewish Christmas.” Like most Americans, we don’t look beyond gifts, dreidls, and of course, enough (vegetable) oil to keep our cardiologists happy all year.
Hanukkah is a victim of its popularity … and proximity to Christmas. (Well, except for that one time every 70,000 years that we celebrate “Thanksgivukkah.”)
But if you give it more thought, Hanukkah can truly be a gift of a holiday. It presents a perfect opportunity for bar and bat mitzvah kids — and all Jews in general — to think about their religious identity within American culture.
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Looking for photographers and kids who want to share their bar mitzvah stories and pix! If interested email us at firstname.lastname@example.org