Our daughter has her bat mitzvah coming up soon.
As we are active members of our local Reform congregation our daughter will be leading the congregation in the Friday night Kabalat Shabbat service and on Saturday she will read from the Torah (Bible).
Because we regularly frequent our synagogue the religious aspects of the bat mitzvah have been no surprise to us or our daughter (I did my own bat mitzvah in 2006). She has settled happily into her study sessions with the Rabbi and can focus most of her attention on her Torah portion as she is well acquainted with the songs, prayers and order of service. She has already taken part in our yearly Rosh HaShanah Youth Service where, in addition to reading, she and her brother played on the flute and trumpet accompanied by the Rabbi.
As a rehearsal, this month she assisted the Rabbi in leading the Friday Night service and read the drash(sermon) she had written (with a little help from her mother.)
But there are more banal aspects to a bat mitzvah:
There is the celebratory party. For most bnei mitzvah this is a large party in a local wedding hall. I can't remember the last time I went to an 'aliyah l'Torah' (reading from the Torah scroll) of a bnei mitzvah who wasn't a member of our congregation but we are frequently invited to such parties. There is food, music, dancing and lots of guests. Normally resulting in a fat overdraft for the parents.
The only times we have organised large, fancy parties in a wedding hall was for the brita and brit after the birth of our children. Both times we felt both over- and underwhelmed. (as well as exhausted and broke!)
Luckily for us Daughter decided to pass on a fancy party as she preferred a trip to England.
Last time were in England, in fact the last time we went abroad, as a family was in 2001. The children were quite young and remember very little. Daughter is intrigued by my mother's stories of friends and family and ever year, when my mother return from visiting the UK, the daughter asks when we will be going.
Apart from the trip to England there is still plenty of planning to be done - friends and family will be invited to services so lists must be made and invitations printed. I also need to provide kiddush snacks after Friday evening service and a light brunch for after Saturday service.
And then there are the clothes. We may not need party clothes but this is a major life cycle event and Daughter will expect us to be looking our best. However Israeli we maybe, this time jeans and a t-shirt will not do.
First and foremost we have the question of clothes for the bat mitzvah herself. Her wardrobe is surprisingly thin on party clothes which is a good excuse for some retail therapy.
For the boys of the family we must check they have smart trousers and matching shirts, neatly ironed and ready to be worn.
For me - well, can I justify buying new clothes? Do I have anything suitable in my wardrobe? When did I get so old that shopping for party clothes became a chore?