Calling All Previous and Current B’nai Mitzvah Parents

The countdown has begun. Less than a year. Eleven and a half months. Fifty weeks. About 350 days. That’s how long until my oldest child stands behind the bimah on her bat mitzvah day.
As a parent, mixed emotions surround this historic event. Here’s a few:

  • Amazed that my little girl is on the verge of becoming a Jewish adult.
  • Confident that her Jewish day school training has prepared her for the Hebrew, spiritual, and social significance of the day.
  • Intimidated by the amount of planning and preparation I have to do.
  • Scared shitless about what this is going to cost me.

To step back for a moment, a couple months ago on this site I wrote about the 25th anniversary of my Bar Mitzvah, and my success (or lack of) as a Jewish adult. That’s all fun and good, but now I’m looking at the b’nai mitzvah experience from the perspective of a parent, and that is something very, very different.
Feeling under informed and overwhelmed, I’m turning to the TC Jewfolk community to help guide me through. Instead of using this page to spout out uninformed opinions on the topic, I’m more interested in starting a discussion with all of you, hearing from those of you that have gone through this before, and those like me that are in the process for the first time. I’m hoping, using the comment section below, we can share experiences and opinions with each other that just might benefit myself and others. On behalf of all the amazed, confident, intimidated, scared shitless parents with 2012 b’nai mitzvot, I’m looking to all of you to keep this discussion going.
The topic is deep and complex, so here are some discussion starters.

  • I’m sure my mother, as wonderful as she is, will want to be very active in the planning of the event and guest list. Is that a good thing or a recipe for disaster?
  • I lean towards simplicity when it comes to meals and parties and general hoopla. Will that lack of “keeping up with the Jones’s” (or Silvergoldsteinbergawitz’s) have a negative affect on my daughter in any way?
  • My ex-in-laws and their families are not Jewish. How do we include them, and do any of them (beyond the grandparents) even want to be included?
  • At what point in the past 25 years did lunch for the congregation become mandatory?
  • Fortunately I get along with my ex-wife very well, but how does a split household affect the planning and executing of a b’nai mitzvah?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this important Jewish life event, and if the interest is strong, I’ll continue to blog about it throughout 2012.