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Embarrassing stories from bar and bat mirzvahs

Messy mitzvah mishaps

for The Brooklyn Paper

Having a bar or bat mitzvah is a pivotal moment in a young person’s life, so it’s very likely that she’ll want every element to be perfect. Picture-perfect, since, well, there’s bound to be a lot of pictures snapped and uploaded on to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. But when one stresses the idea of perfection, she can’t always have her bat mitzvah cake and eat it, too. Sometimes that kind of demand results in a little egg (and flour, sugar, milk, and okay, some of that aforementioned bat mitzvah cake) on her face.

Here’s a few classic party fouls that will encourage any bat mitvah-zilla (or bar mitvah-zilla) who’s obsessed with “the ideal” to take a chill pill and relax a little:

• Dressed to shrill

Rachel Feldman, a communications and web director based in Vermont, spent 10 months teaching English in Israel where she attended numerous bar and bat mitzvahs.

“I remember one bat mitvah pitching a fit because an attendee’s dress looked too much like her dress,” says Feldman. “Her mother had to leave the bat mitzvah and pick her up a backup dress, which was purchased just incase something like this happened.”

• Breaking tradition

Jena Cumbo, a professional photographer who has shot more than 40 different b’nai mitzvahs, has witnessed some not-so-pretty party incidents. She recently attended a simcha where the hired entertainment, a few belly dancers dressed in traditional garb, clashed with the bat mitzvah’s sense of fashion.

“The 13-year-old girl didn’t want them to wear those outfits because she thought they were tacky,” recalls Cumbo. “So, she made them change into white T-shirts and black leggings.” At that same party, Cumbo claims there was also an issue with the DVD player that was supposed to play a video montage of the bat mitzvah’s life. “It never played, though, and the MC didn’t handle it very well,” says Cumbo. “The mom got very upset.”

• Don’t be tardy for the party

David Ferris, an editor who is living abroad in Berlin, Germany, remembers his first bat mitzvah experience.

“It was for my first girlfriend ever,” Ferris reminisces. Ferris was getting geared up to go to the party when tween turmoil struck — DUN DUN DUN!!! — they broke up. “So, she un-invited me [at the last second] to her party.”

But that wasn’t Ferris’s last trip to the not-so-swell b’nai mitzvah rodeo.

“We went to a bar mitzvah the day after my parents decided to tells us that they were going to split up.” And due to the drama that ensued from this news, the Ferris family lost track of time. “We rolled in there so late, that we arrived in the middle of the ceremony. Everyone was looking at us.”

• Kiss and tell

Rachel Feldman remembers another swinging simcha getting soured when a flood of whispers caused mass exodus.

“Every one of the kids left the dancehall, went outside, and peaked around the corner.” And what was blossoming? A budding romance. “So, you have about 70 kids, just sitting there, watching two other kids make-out,” recalls Feldman. “The image of that many seventh graders — who are never quiet at once — whispering play-by-plays to each other really imprinted quite the memory.”

The young lovers undisturbed by a crowd that was blatantly gossiping about the situation threw the whole party for a loop, turning a festive, loud moment into a silent…and slightly surreal one.

• Not sitting too pretty

Jena Cumbo has worked so many b’nai mitzvahs, she can pinpoint one mishap that consistently occurs more times than any other: falling off the chair during the hora.

“One little girl was really freaked out,” says Cumbo. “She didn’t want to do [the hora] to begin with and the worst part was that they put her on a folding chair that was folding together on her. She twisted out of the fold but ended up spilling out of the seat. Everyone saw her underwear.”

You can never fully prep for mitzvah mishaps — be it ensemble dilemmas or rifts with young love. Remaining calm is always a good way to minimize intensity when the unexpected (or undesirable) occurs, but, there’s always one soiree hiccup that Cumbo claims can always be avoided: “Never do the hora in a folding chair.”

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