Author Topic: Bat Mitzvah and Ceremony/Luncheon Question  (Read 2270 times)

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mindicherry

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Bat Mitzvah and Ceremony/Luncheon Question
« on: October 19, 2012, 12:15:24 AM »
I realize that I am late in asking this question (since it happens in 2 days) and there is honestly nothing I can do at this point (short of a "miracle friend" stepping up to watch my daughter)

my good friends' daughter is making her Bat Mitzvah on Saturday.  hubs has to work on Saturday and will not be able to be there.  All of my local "support" for the rare times when I need someone to watch my kids for a few hours will be away.  My regular babysitter is not an option, because it is HER sister making the Bat Mitzvah.

I have no problem leaving my boys alone for about 2-3 hours (they are 9 and 11) while I go grocery shopping, etc and they have my cell phone # and are WAY too liberal in using it (MOOOM! Thomas called me a butthead!). I went to the Bat Mitzvah for her older sister and it was a 3 hour service (they are Conservative, so not only was it a 3-hour service, but it was a 3-hour service in a foreign language to me), followed by a 4-hour reception. I just can't leave my kids home alone that long!

And so, when I RSVP'd to the mom, I told her in person (she is a very good friend of mine who lives 3 houses from me), that I would only be able to come to the luncheon because of DH's schedule and child-care issues and she seemed completely fine with that.

The way that I was looking at it....I have about a 2-3 hour window to participate in the celebration of her Bat Mitzvah.  I could go to the service where I understand NOTHING, or go to the luncheon where I could socialize with the family and express how proud I was of her (I have been friends with her family since before she was born).  I really don't give a rats retina about the free lunch and I don't drink booze at that time of the say anyway...so it's not that!

Talking to my mom tonight, she told me that I had no business going for the "free lunch" when I wasn't going to the service.  This COMPLETELY threw me because my mom is usually very understanding of my child-care issues.  If it matters, I would have given the Bat Mitzvah girl a gift, whether I could have made it to either the service, the luncheon, or neither.

So what say you?  Is it rude of me to designate those 2-3 hours that I have to attend this event to the hours where I can understand what is going on?  It is obviously too late for me to change my RSVP to "not attending", as my friend already had to put in a catering head-count. But am I wrong?

White Lotus

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Re: Bat Mitzvah and Ceremony/Luncheon Question
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2012, 12:29:18 AM »
If the hostess is good with this, and you say she is, I think you are clear.

Mental Magpie

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Re: Bat Mitzvah and Ceremony/Luncheon Question
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2012, 12:31:53 AM »
I think your saving grace is that this is for the daughter of a very close friend.  If this was someone with whom you weren't as close, I'd have to agree with your mother; but if she is as good of a friend as you say she is (and I completely believe she is), I think she completely understands as long as you explained it to her.  Make sure she understands this is simply because you want to be there for the part you understand and that your time is limited because of child care issues.
The problem with choosing the lesser of two evils is that you're still choosing evil.

sweetonsno

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Re: Bat Mitzvah and Ceremony/Luncheon Question
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2012, 12:42:27 AM »
In general, your mom is right. It's not so great to skip out on the service (which is what is being celebrated) and then go to the party. It's like skipping the wedding and going to the reception.

That being said, since you and the hostess of this event are close and she's aware of your constraints, I think you're in the clear here. The important thing is that you are helping this girl celebrate a major milestone and sharing good wishes with her. If you ever do get the chance, I hope you can attend a Bar Mitzvah. It's pretty interesting! (I'm not religious, but I'm super-interested in religion.)

nrb80

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Re: Bat Mitzvah and Ceremony/Luncheon Question
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2012, 07:40:00 AM »
From the perspective of someone who has had foreign language religious events and has hosted same for her children - I wouldn't make the choice you did but I don't think its offensive.  Even if you don't read/understand Hebrew, you should be able to follow along and the moments with the bat mitvah girl will be obvious.  Even if you get nothing out of the language you give your support. 

However, if I was the mother I wouldn't give a second thought.  I would assume you had something else at the time and were coming when you could.  I would be hurt if I realized the ceremony was unimportant to you because of the language issue.

bopper

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Re: Bat Mitzvah and Ceremony/Luncheon Question
« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2012, 08:34:04 AM »
Your realistic choices are at this point Don't Go or Go to Luncheon due to child care issues.
Your mom wantes them to be Go Ceremony and Luncheon or Don't Go.

I think that everyone realizes it is better if you go to a ceremony before the reception, but sometimes that is not possible and generally people would like you to at least join for part of it.

learningtofly

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Re: Bat Mitzvah and Ceremony/Luncheon Question
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2012, 08:49:57 AM »
I think you're fine.  You've talked to the hostess and she's fine.  The important part of the service is when the Torah and Haftorah are being read by the Bat Mitzvah girl.  That is the part of the service she has prepared for for over a year.  Usually that's toward the end of the service.  I just attended a Bat Mitzvah.  I know Hebrew.  It was still long and I couldn't translate a thing.  Nice to be at and celebrate the accomplishment, but it has to be really hard spending 3 hours not understanding a thing.  I have a hard time spending three hours anywhere!

Go to the reception.  Tell your friend's daughter that you are proud of her accomplishment.  Even if you don'tget to see her leading the service or reading the Torah.  It's still an important milestone for her and you are there to celebrate it.


cicero

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Re: Bat Mitzvah and Ceremony/Luncheon Question
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2012, 08:53:00 AM »
is the reception immediately following the ceremony? then how about going to the ceremony late and maybe leaving the reception early if you have to? this way you could get a little bit of the ceremony itself, and then enjoy the reception. The ceremony itself is usally a part of the entire morning services - usually starting about 1.5-2 hours after the services start and about an hour or less before it's over.

if not, then just go to the reception- you are fine. the mom is ok with this and really - sometimes child care issues just can't be resolved and we do the best we can. if i was the mom - i would be happy and excited that you could at least participate in *some part* of the event.

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DaDancingPsych

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Re: Bat Mitzvah and Ceremony/Luncheon Question
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2012, 09:16:46 AM »
While on this site it has been pointed out that it's rude to skip the ceremony and only attend the party (like the wedding/reception example), in my circle of friends and relatives, it is not considered rude. There is this understanding that everyone has various things going on and sometimes it is just not possible to dedicate your entire day to an event. I admit that there are some crazy relatives that take advantage of this and only come for the free food, but I have witnessed them get phased out with lack of an invitation. But I think for the most part, everyone knows it's not about the food and just what needs to be done. (It should be noted that there are often people who only attend the ceremony and send their gift to the reception with someone else due to scheduling.)

Since this is a close friend, I would sweat it too much. Enjoy the reception and celebrate this young gal.

mindicherry

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Re: Bat Mitzvah and Ceremony/Luncheon Question
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2012, 10:41:46 AM »
Thanks to everyone for your comments/support!  In an ideal world, I WOULD go to both not just because it is the right thing to do, but because I am happy for her.


kglory

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Re: Bat Mitzvah and Ceremony/Luncheon Question
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2012, 10:42:56 AM »
I'm Jewish and if it were a choice between service and reception, I would personally choose to go to the service. 

Re: foreign language.  It will mostly be in Hebrew, but as a PP mentioned, the girl's speech and the rabbi's speech about how proud he is of her, etc. should be in English.

Yvaine

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Re: Bat Mitzvah and Ceremony/Luncheon Question
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2012, 11:17:49 AM »
is the reception immediately following the ceremony? then how about going to the ceremony late and maybe leaving the reception early if you have to? this way you could get a little bit of the ceremony itself, and then enjoy the reception. The ceremony itself is usally a part of the entire morning services - usually starting about 1.5-2 hours after the services start and about an hour or less before it's over.

I would think going to the ceremony late would be more etiquette-ly problematic than going to one or the other event on time, though I admit I'm unfamiliar with the details of the ceremony.

lowspark

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Re: Bat Mitzvah and Ceremony/Luncheon Question
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2012, 11:49:39 AM »
<snip>
it was a 3 hour service (they are Conservative, so not only was it a 3-hour service, but it was a 3-hour service in a foreign language to me)


Coming from the point of view of one who belongs to that denomination, I'd give you a pass. Yeah, the service is usually around 3 hours from start to finish and it is mostly in Hebrew. I had friends who were not Jewish who came and sat through the whole service for both of my boys' Bar Mitzvahs and I warned them in advance and told them I'd understand if they didn't want to sit through the whole thing.

It can be grueling for people who don't know what's going on. Yeah, you can follow along by reading the English translation but the Hebrew is mostly chanted so it's not just a straight read and move on.

I did have one friend ask if he and his wife could just come to the party Saturday night and skip the actual event and I was really just fine with that. For my friends who are Jewish, the whole service was meaningful for them anyway and they wanted to be there and I expected them to. For my friends who are not Jewish, it was mainly the ones with whom I'm pretty close who came and sat through it all because it was meaningful for me and therefore, it became meaningful for them.

I think you have a pretty good reason for not making the entire event and since the hostess said OK, I wouldn't worry about what your mother said.

cicero

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Re: Bat Mitzvah and Ceremony/Luncheon Question
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2012, 12:52:05 PM »
is the reception immediately following the ceremony? then how about going to the ceremony late and maybe leaving the reception early if you have to? this way you could get a little bit of the ceremony itself, and then enjoy the reception. The ceremony itself is usally a part of the entire morning services - usually starting about 1.5-2 hours after the services start and about an hour or less before it's over.

I would think going to the ceremony late would be more etiquette-ly problematic than going to one or the other event on time, though I admit I'm unfamiliar with the details of the ceremony.
In the case of a synagogue, it's actualy fine. Yes, we're all *supposed* to be there from start to end, but many congregants - especially parents of young children - will choose to come later. So long as it's done quietly, you can come late and slip into a back row

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jmarvellous

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Re: Bat Mitzvah and Ceremony/Luncheon Question
« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2012, 02:09:08 PM »
In my experience, like others', it's relatively easy to slip in late, and the Torah readings and kid's speech (in English) are toward the end.

Also IME, the luncheon following is usually reasonably casual, so you wouldn't be expected to stay too long.

You haven't mentioned it, but why not bring your kids? I know next to no Hebrew and am not Jewish (though my family is), and I find these sorts of things pretty enriching (even just the lunch, which might have interesting food). Of course, I understand if they weren't invited or you have other reasons, I just have found bat mitzvahs enjoyable, family-oriented events.