The 21st century’s bar mitzvah year, 2013, is almost here and b’nai mitzvah talk seems to be everywhere.
Last month, the Reform movement kicked off “B’nai Mitzvah Revolution,” a project to make the rite of passage more meaningful. In February, the annual Jewish Futures Conference — a joint venture of the Jewish Education Service of North America and Jewish Education Project — will focus on “The Role of Bar and Bat Mitzvah in America Today.”
Meanwhile, Mohammed Ali’s grandson (who identifies as Jewish) recently had a bar mitzvah, while the b’nai mitzvah of a twin brother and sister drives the narrative in Jami Attenberg’s “The Middlesteins,” one of this year’s big Jewish novels.
Now the bar/bat mitzvah even has its own glossy magazine: Mazel.
According to the website, which went live last week (a print version debuts in January), photographer Jamie Karlin Kaplan created Mazel “because she felt that there was no media outlet properly covering the modern world of sophisticated bar and bat mitzvah celebrations happening in America … Today the bar mitzvah party rivals the attention to detail put into weddings. Many felt that parents and children did not have an elegant source to draw inspiration from, so Mazel is attempting to serve as this gathering spot.”
Kaplan, according to the website of her Manhattan photography business, Jamie K. Photography, holds a degree in film and “is the mother of twins, a Bar Mitzvah expert and masterful art director.”
While B’nai Mitzvah Revolution is about ramping up the educational and spiritual component of the iconic rite of passage, the stylish Mazel unapologetically focuses more on the material — and high-end material at that.
The website keeps text to a minimum, instead emphasizing photo essays: current highlights include “a selection of hot shoes” (one shoe photo has the tagline “let the shiksa’s [sic] eat their kishkas out”), a comic-book superhero-themed bar mitzvah and a bar mitzvah at Giants Stadium. The site also highlights floral arrangements, elaborately crafted cakes and a Q&A with Colin Cowie, “one of the world’s leading event planners, interior designers, and style and lifestyle experts.”
Asked to name the “most crucial element of a good bar or bat mitzvah,” Cowie says, “More than anything it’s the flow of the party.”
So much for the Torah portion.