Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | May 13, 2014

What I learned from our Bat Mitzvah weekend

We celebrated Dori becoming a Bat Mitzvah this weekend. I learned a lot of  things in the process, and thought I’d share them with you, in no particular order:

–When you walk into the dollar store and request 30 mylar balloons to be inflated NOW, they will do it, but while mumbling that they DO accept advanced orders. You’ll play dumb and say “Great – I’ll do that next time.” But you probably won’t.


–Don’t bother setting an alarm for Saturday or Sunday morning, when you are planning big events. You’ll naturally wake up at 4:45 or 5:45 a.m. and won’t be able to go back to sleep.

–You’ll go to sleep with lists swirling in your head and wake up with lists swirling in your head, along with the never ending repetition of your own Torah reading.

–As the weekend starts, people will drop like flies due to illness, injury and travel difficulties.

–Your Friday night dinner RSVP list will go from 35 to 20 in a matter of hours.

–Your perfect Saturday night table seating arrangements will then take a nose dive. You’ll go back to the drawing board.

–If you throw everything into your already-messy office for the weekend, to get it out of the way, people will choose to hang out in your office, instead of the neat living room.

The storage office.

–After hearing stories of your guests getting lost while driving in New Jersey, you’ll realize how far you’ve come in the past five years.

–Make sure you actually BOOK your DJ, not just email him 7 months earlier and work out price/hours/location and THINK that he’s booked. Because you might find out the week of the Bat Mitzvah that you’re not on his calendar.

–You should have friends like Harold, Amy and Rachel who can give you tips on who to hire, where to shop for supplies, how to estimate attendance, and how to work out payments to save money.

–Your home will look like a flower shop after the event.


–You must turn on the kitchen disposal when needed, or the water will back up into your dishwasher and flow onto your floor while you have 40 people over for brunch.

–Even if you place your fruit platter order in person and watch them write it out (I’m talking to you, ShopRite in Clark), they may lose your order and try to tell you it’s too late to place another.

–The people you didn’t really want to invite will be the ones who cause you the most grief before and during the event. (And for anyone reading this, trust me, I’m not talking about you).

–If you give the kids lollipops as place card settings, they will eat the lollipops as appetizers and then look for plastic bags to store them when their dinner arrives.

the appetizer

the appetizer


–It is imperative to have two home refrigerators after hosting a catered event.

–When everyone tells you how fabulous the salmon was at lunch, of course there will be none of it in the 6 full trays of leftover food. But there will be a lot of mashed potatoes.

–For many, the best part of the service will be when the Bat Mitzvah girl throws candy at the rabbi.

–When you order customized yarmulkes, don’t order four dozen too many. Especially in orange.

Yarmulkes for sale

Yarmulkes for sale

–You will see an entirely different side of your child on the bimah. And you will be very, very proud.

–The service and lunch cements your belief that you belong to the right synagogue, and you have a fabulous community.

–It’s a great thing that Judaism believes it’s a mitzvah to do vodka shots on Shabbat.

–There’s no such thing as too many leftover bagels when your visitors aren’t from the New York/New Jersey area.

–The 12 year olds will have higher heels than you.


Badgley Mischkas (from the outlet store)

Zadie’s Kosher Bake Shop has the most fabulous chocolate babka and massive ceremonial challah. The challah was even better than our favorite, Zomick’s.

–Those little details you thought were overly anal and ridiculous? Some people (but only women) notice and appreciate them.




–If you’re debating whether to hire someone to help out as an organizer during the party, DO IT. Hire someone like Michelle Wiecek of The Bride Organizer. She does more than weddings. Yes, the restaurant/hall has a coordinator. But they don’t want to get texts and emails at all hours of the night with your random event thoughts and ideas. Michelle can talk you down from the ledge.  She can give you ideas you hadn’t thought of and make your life easier during the party so you can enjoy yourself.

–Everything you do will take longer than you think.

with the fabulous June

with the fabulous June

–You may be stressed out the week of the event, with heart palpitations and the jitters, but you will not lose your appetite or those extra 5 pounds. The weekend of the event, when there is fabulous food, you will have no appetite and can’t eat a bite. And they will take  your dessert away before you get back to the table.

–Never underestimate the WOW factor of a giant balloon crab.


–Your DJ will agree to all the songs on your request list sent ahead of time, and then not play any of them. Your DJ will decide it’s time for the kids to dance and say “this one is for the kids” and then put on a Green Day song from 1994.

–Having great friends fly in from California will make you so happy you’ll cry.

–At several times during the weekend, you’ll look around and realize that you are the adult. Your kid is 13. And that will be surprising.

–You’re now ready to book the date for your son’s Bar Mitzvah.




  1. “At several times during the weekend, you’ll look around and realize that you are the adult. Your kid is 13. And that will be surprising.” <– Yep. I'm not Jewish, but I def. recognize this feeling.

  2. So, so true. The salmon was indeed delicious. And the entire weekend was magical! My only complaint is that it flew by all too quickly. Miss you. XOXO

  3. It’s quite a learning curve, isn’t it? Mazel Tov to your daughter. And to you.

  4. That chocolate babka was the best!!! We had a fabulous time and Dori did such an amazing job. Proud weekend to be a part of and Debbie you looked beautiful all weekend. XOXO

  5. Debbie–i’m planning one now. I teared up reading this! Mazel Tov on the child and ALL the work and on keeping (even growing) your sense of humor about the whole thing.; That, really is priceless!!

    • Michele – good luck with the planning! It pays off in the end. I’m definitely on a high now, except when it comes to cleaning up my house. That’s kind of depressing. When is the date?

  6. Sounds like a great celebration

  7. Great Post re: the BM Does Judy get your blog? if not do you want us to copy it to her? We had a great time last weekend and you truly did a great job!

    We finally got on the internet and had a chance to read it. The weather here has been just like NJ (cold and rainy) but that has not stopped us. Went to museums, gardens, gates, towns, synagogues etc. Off to Prague tomorrow. More to come. Love Mom and Dad

  8. […] Here are lessons learned from our daughter’s Bat Mitzvah. […]

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