This Saturday, my nephew will become a man. At age almost 13. That does not mean that I have hired a prostitute named Candy to escort him past the labial curtains of sexual relations. (He has previously indicated his preference for ladies.) I suppose de-virginizing would be one way to draw the line between boy and man, but it seems an antiquated concept – that somehow poking your poker in someone’s poker hole is an indication that you have arrived. Come, maybe, but not arrived. Ooo-er, missus.
I am referring to becoming a man in the eyes of Jewish law at the age of 13. That means the prostitute’s name is Brachah, and you have to take her through a sheet while she holds on to her sheitel and screams out, “Shtoop me! Shtoop me harder!”
At the age of 12 or 13, Jewish children are called to the Torah and become either a Bat (female) or Bar (male) Mitzvah at which point, the children become adults and are old enough to know right from wrong, understand consequences of their actions and fulfill the responsibilities and duties of Jewish law. Also, they can get a Facebook account if they haven’t lied about their ages and created an account already. I’m pretty sure that Zuckerberg set the age at 13 with the B’nai Mitzvah in mind.
Can they drive, vote or work in mines? No, but hopefully after all these years of Hebrew school, they can appreciate their history, find pride in their heritage and uphold traditions that have sustained our people for thousands of years. If we’ve done our jobs right, they also shudder at the thought of a roast beef sandwich on white bread with cheddar cheese and mayo.
Most people on the outside are unaware that the Bar/Bat Mitzvah is actually the supporting act. The real stars of the show are actually the parents, the mother in particular who has not thrown a big shindig since her wedding. 13 years have passed since then, unless baby came before wedding, of course. More often that not, it has been at least 13 years, and now Mom gets to host a do-over wedding of sorts. There are obvious differences, of course. Besides the fact that Mom does not wear a bridal gown, she is older, wiser and perhaps a bit softer, and she has kids getting in the way of her event planning.
Even though the Bar/Bat Mitzvah is now expected to pull up a chair at the grown up table, Mom still has the final say on invitations, venue, menu and DJ (or klezmer band). While the Bar/Bat Mitzvah is the one leading the service and reading from the Torah, no one can deny Mom’s part in her child’s accomplishments or her role in selecting said child’s wardrobe or her success or failure in compiling photos featuring every relative and friend for that effing montage. She is on that bimah whether you see her or not.
I was not my sister’s Maid of Honor at her wedding. We were only beginning our newfound, adult friendship at that point in our lives. She had close friends who were physically and emotionally there for her when our parents were not. This Bar Mitzvah is my do-over, too. In addition to being the best aunt ever (don’t tell his other aunts), I will be the proudest sister ever.
I can’t wait for my sister’s big weekend when she steps out in front of friends and family, alongside of her son and her fantastic husband and co-parent, knowing that she fucking rocks. Though her son may still have the grooming habits and sassy attitude of a petulant child, there is a blossoming young man behind those rolling eyes who has an amazing, devoted, beautiful mom who happens to be a pretty kick-ass sister. Mazal tov, Rachel!!