Just a Jew. Named Mitch. Writing about his feelings.

The Story Behind My Bar Mitzvah Photo

Posted by JewMitch on February 22, 2011

If you go to my parents’ house today, you will notice thousands of photos of me on every wall (I was an only child), but more than any other – you’ll notice an extremely large, framed glossy print of my Bar Mitzvah photo.  This photo has become mildly famous among my friends; it was used in an internet e-mail advertisement for (where I used to work) that went out to millions, it was profiled on, and was even turned into a cake (as seen above).

Many ask the story behind this photo, and since I have this wildly popular venue to post such things; here we go.

Like, any nice Jewish boy, I got Bar Mitzvah’d at the age of 13.  As much as I dislike organized religion, and would never opt to be Bar Mitzvah’d again if I had the choice, I sort of understand this ritual, especially for the parents of boys.  The parents of girls get lots of opportunities to spend lots of money on their daughter and throw Sweet Sixteens and weddings — but what do the parents of boys get?  The chance to pay for a Bris and then throw a rehearsal dinner before the wedding?  That’s definitely not enough for Jewish mothers, eager to show off their offspring in front of a huge crowd.  And while we’re at it, why not do it at the age of 13, when puberty is just hitting and Jewish boys look the cutest.

For whatever reason, my parents, who are usually conservative with money, decided to throw an insane bar mitzvah for me.  My mother went dress shopping in New York for weeks before settling on one, we rented out a nice hotel, we flew in an “entertainment group” (think: a DJ, a bunch of dancers, and a bag of silly hats and costumes) from New York called “Heart to Heart,” we served Peking Duck; it went on and on.

But all this was not quite enough for my mother, she also insisted that we have a “theme.”  Why?  “Because Bar Mitzvahs without a theme lack focus and are generic.”  Or something like that.

So 13-year-old me had to pick something.  13 year old me, who really had no interests besides video games, pizza and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and was generally depressed and mopey at that age, had to pick a “theme.”

“What do you like?” asked the Bar Mitzvah planner?  (Yes, we had a bar mitzvah planner).

“I don’t know.”

“Well, we need something.  Sports?  A Team?  Magic?”

“No.”  (I was not very athletic).

“You’re not giving me a lot here.  How about hats?  You’re mom said that you like wearing baseball hats.”  (This was true).

“Okay, hats it is.  ‘Hats off to Mitch at his Bar Mitzvah.’  Perfect!”

And so, the theme to my bar mitzvah actually became hats.  Everyone got a baseball cap that said “Hats off to Mitch”, there were center pieces based on hats at every table, chocolate that looked like hats, etc.

But best of all, when it came time to pick my Bar Mitzvah outfit out, instead of going with a suit – I decided if we really were “going to have a theme,” I might as well go with it, and so I picked out a full tuxedo with a top hat.  Because you really can’t wear a top hat with a suit, and tuxes are awesome (I still hold that belief).

And that is the story of my Bar Mitzvah picture.  May it live in infamy forever.


One Response to “The Story Behind My Bar Mitzvah Photo”

  1. Just_Erin said

    1) I am disappointed that you did not have a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’s themed Bar Mitzvah
    2) I really think you should take that photo and make a spoof of the Obama Hope image

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