In Which I Book an African Safari For My Kid’s Bar Mitzvah

December 1, 2015 — 68 Comments

lion-blog revised


Little Dude recently received the date for his bar mitzvah, which will be in November of 2016.

We’ve decided to fly 150 people to Africa to go on a Wildebeest Migration Safari on the Serengeti. For the ceremony, LD will arrive on the back of an elephant surrounded by authentic members of the Maasai tribe.

The tribal leader will cry out the opening lyrics to “The Lion KIng,”




I’ve hired animal trainers to help reenact the opening scene to the movie. Little Dude will be dangled over a cliff by a wizened baboon as the rest of the animal kingdom bows to him.

From there, he’ll recite Hebrew prayers so we can return to rented huts for champagne and bagels.




A bar (or “bat” for girls) mitzvah is a Jewish coming-of-age ceremony. It celebrates graduation from Hebrew school and marks a child’s emergence into the adult world of Judaism,

Blah blah blah… everyone knows it’s really all about THE PARTY!


A photo album is made, just like a wedding album.

This is a typical staged photo from a 1960’s bar mitzvah album:


“Son, today you are a man. I present to you this family treasure. Your Grandfather, myself and now you will enjoy these fine ladies. Go forth and MASTURBATE.”



I recently shared on Facebook that one of my students had a Sweet Sixteen which cost her parents over $60,000. She hosted 300 people at an upscale, celebrity-studded restaurant in Manhattan. Each of her two dresses cost about $2500.

Her parents even hired Fetty Wap to appear. Fetty Wap, which sounds like the act of slapping someone in the face with a flaccid penis, is actually a super hot rapper with a slew of hits.

Nicki Minaj wasn’t available. She was booked for a bar mitzvah that day.


nikki minaj 2

Rich Catholic boys everywhere are now converting to Judaism



The truth is, even if we were billionaires, it would not be my style to throw a million dollar bar mitzvah for my kid.

Okay. Hold up.

If we were BILLIONAIRES, I might splurge and pay to restore what used to be CBGBs, and is now a John Varvatos store, to its former seedy glory as CBGBs for the night. And have the party there.

The point I’m trying (and failing miserably) to make is that it’s ludicrous to throw such extravagant parties for children. It stinks of entitlement and conspicuous consumption.

And all that money! Instead of throwing a 4 hour party, you could feed an entire starving Ethopian village.


Multimillionaire David H. Brooks spent TEN MILLION DOLLARS for his daughter’s bat mitzvah. The party was dubbed, “Mitzvahpalooza,” because Brooks had a stage built, brought in jumbotrons, and installed special concert carpeting.

He hired old AF musicians Steven Tyler and Joe Perry from Aerosmith, The Eagles’ Don Henley and Joe Walsh, Fleetwood Mac’s Steve Nicks, and Tom Petty. And since this was allegedly a party for kids, he also hired DJ AM, Ciara, and 50 Cent.

Kenny G serenaded the guests on sax during cocktail hour.

Kenny FUCKING G? I would have had to get naked wasted to block out the soulless horse excrement that Kenny G passes as music.

I wasn’t even a little bit sad to read that five years later, Brooks was found guilty of insider trading. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison but I still think his biggest crime was hiring KENNY WANKING G.



A huge trend is creating elaborate videos for the bar mitzah invitation. This one I posted below is MORTIFYING. I HAD to share this with you. It went viral, which now completely ruins for me the entire concept of “going viral.”

I don’t believe in being judgey about how people spend their money, or especially about kids and how they look or sound.

HOWEVER – I hereby temporarily retract that belief.

This kid is a chubby tone-deaf ginger with a voice that sounds like someone tied rubber bands around his balls. The icing on this cake of shame is that he strips to almost naked at the end.

This video doesn’t fill me with Judaic pride. It makes me want to tie this dingleberry to a chair and shoot him repeatedly with a BB gun.


Look, I can appreciate that kids want to mark their Judaism in a passionate and creative way. But these over-the-top theatrics make a mockery of the religion.

And distastefully extravagant affairs, of all kinds, seem to be merely a show of affluence and pointless one-upmanship. They’re driven by parents who want to prove that they’ve “made it” and exploit their children’s rites of passage as the vehicle



Most families, upon receiving the bar mitzvah date a year in advance, start planning in a frenzy. The mothers in particular go crazy, not just interviewing caterers and florists and DJs but also booking face lifts and personal trainers.

I won’t be hiring strippers to pole dance around my kid at his bar mitzvah. I recognize that he’s been working hard, attending Hebrew school since he was 8. So it will still be a celebration of all that he’s accomplished. But not something I need to start planning a year in advance.

I have, however, been threatening – for years – to perform Napoleon Dynamite’s entire talent show dance in front of a crowd.

Little Dude’s bar mitzvah might be just the place.


What the hell is going on with these parties?
Talk to me. I’m listening. 



Ooh! I have a Facebook page! Come over and like me so I can have friends without ever leaving the house.

I’m also on Instagram

68 responses to In Which I Book an African Safari For My Kid’s Bar Mitzvah


    I don’t even know what to say. To spend that kind of money on a party…any insane to me. One TENTH of the cost and I’d be sitting pretty for the rest of my life.

    It makes me sad, actually…these people who are fortunate to be given this money (because let’s face it..NO ONE earns that much) and they blow it on bullshit like this when it could be helping people.


      I got married at city hall and had a barbecue in my backyard, so these parties are pretty unrelatable to me.
      And yes – that money could be so much more useful. Thanks for reading. xoxoxoox


    I made it a minute into the video. You described his singing voice to a tee. It was awful. The poor kid in the navy blue sweatshirt hated doing this video. Thank you for saying it, these parties are for the parents’ oneupmanship, it’s not celebrating the actual rite or milestone. One day, the Napoleon dance needs to be seen. Because it’s awesome!


      That’s his brother, and he looks miserable! He’s the only one I can relate to in the video. The mother is dancing around like Miss American.


    I don’t even dare to look at the video!!! But I think that LD’s Bar Mitzvah will be celebrated in a way which acknowledge his accomplishments and milestones rather than with bullshit, and I think that’s far better. And I hope for an invitation (though I won’t dance 😉 )


    Great post, Samara. I spent a lot of my parents money for my first wedding. It was a PARTAY! Still the envy of most of my friends and we still talk about the antics at family gatherings. It was awesome. And expensive. And I had buyers remorse the next morning (not to mention, marriage remorse) when I realized I could have went on an amazing honeymoon instead of spending my next week, moving my shitty things into his shitty appartment. Geesh. The disappointment in myself.


      I had a city hall wedding and put money down on a house instead – but part of me wishes I had SOME kind of a party, even if it wasn’t a PARTAY.
      Of course, the marriage is over so I suppose it doesn’t matter…
      Thanks for reading!!


    So much to love here…I almost wish I could convert from “formerly Methodist atheist” to “formerly Jewish atheist.” We took our twin kids whitewater rafting for their 13th birthday, ate ham and cheese sandwiches, and camped out in the rain. The got to bring friends. It was a blast.


    I watched the whole video. It was a total train wreck. The more obnoxious it became, the further my jaw descended. By the time I reached the Blurred Lines bit, I had to scrape my chin off the floor. I don’t think “mockery” even begins to describe this trend. And the fact that he mentions “It’s all about ME”, tells how completely off the rails these events have gone. I have no doubt LD will celebrate his rite of passage in a way that appropriately represents the occasion. You’re a good mom.


      Doesn’t the mom in the video remind you of all the obnoxious moms where we live? Just prancing around, so PROUD to have enabled that ridiculous video! hahahaha


    We somehow managed to spend what could of amounted to a really nice car, a down payment for an apartment or even a round the world trip…to have a 36 hour wedding.
    a waste? not sure, the years will tell.
    Will I ever spend that much on a party. hell no. not even sweet sixteens or anything. Go travel, buy yourself a camera, sheesh. ok . im ranting.
    I’m sure you will give your kid the bar mitzvah he deserves and will love you for it. without spending a years wages for it.


    Great post about entitlement in our society. I could say a lot about the poverty I have seen in my teaching career. It is travesty the mode of living some kids are saddled with due to money. Affluence and the lack of can do horrible things to a child. Once again great job.


    I feel sorry for the kid in that video. I watched the whole fucking thing. It was awful. Blurred Lines almost had me vomiting.

    I shudder at the amount of money that’s probably going to go into my wedding just for the sheer volume of people in our respective families.

    I’m sure Little Dude’s party with be exactly what it should be. A celebration of his earned knowledge and hard work, welcoming him into the Jewish community.


      You can have a huge, festive, and yes – expensive- wedding and still not be TACKY and strip to your undies for an invitation video!
      And I doubt your wedding will cost millions of dollars. Just a guess. 🙂


    I had the fortune of teaching and being one of the last of my friends to breed, and so I observed a great deal of parenting before I began. When you start your kid with large, expensive birthday parties and extravagant gifts, by the time they’re six you’re booking enormous venues and by the time they’re sixteen, it’s a shiny new import and the top two floors of a five star hotel…
    This doesn’t much encourage personal growth.

    I don’t care to participate in over-the-top celebrations of entitlement and I certainly wouldn’t plan one.

    I hope your son has a wonderful bar mitvah, safari or not. My middle daughter much enjoys holding her kitten over her head and singing the songs of The Lion King. I suspect your son weighs more than 8 pounds 🙂


    So the original plan for my Bar Mitzvah was to have a big dinner party complete with a band. I didn’t want any of that. In fact, I hated the band they picked. I kept complaining and wishing that we didn’t have to have the party.

    Eventually I got my way, but only because my grandmother died a couple of months beforehand.


    I get the feeling that often these elaborate parties are thrown because money is easier to spend than giving love, especially if you are not capable of it. I know that sound cruel but money can be a good substitute for love to some people.


    Another reason is probably “keeping up with the Jones'” syndrome.


    Seriously, I’m now going to have to go jab my ears with hot pokers. Man I hate fucking being judgy, but all I could think was STAAAAHHHHHPPPP! That. Sucked. But hey, kudos to him and his family for having fun.

    All these lavish parties for kids/teenagers is ridiculous. I get that their parents want to do something awesome to celebrate, but it can be done without pissing dollars away knowing full well there’s a family or 20 out there who’s hoping to just keep the damn lights on one more day.


    It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Then, I watched the credits and realized that he didn’t write his own lyrics, and neither did his parents. It wasn’t his mom living vicariously through him. They probably paid someone a lot of money. That just made me sad because some potential girlfriend or boss will goggle him and the embarrassing moment will never end. I would probably want to go to the other extreme and do group service project in the community and have people donate time and $ to a cause in leui of gifts. More than the money for a one time event, it’s the focus on the party/ one time experience/ event rather than the purpose for it.


      The video was made by a production company and it cost a LOT of money! Ugh.

      I like your idea of a group service project.


        See? That’s just sad. I dare you to buck the trend and see how in expensively you can throw a party or give back somehow. Sometimes you just have to be creative. Your “gift bag” can be work gloves everyone gets to use and keep. You could serve a party sub, chips and soda. I bet you could do the whole party for under $300 for 30 guests. Have them donate gift cards or $ for materials for doing the project the organization instead of the kid. I’d also collect everyone’s phone at the beginning so they actually talk and work with each other. They might complain and say that it would have been better to meet a celebutante. It will be what they remember months and years later.


    I photograph Bar Mitzvahs. I have literally seen all of the things. Except Fetty Wap. My children would be highly jealous of that experience.


    Wow, that video was something else. This is really insane to me, Samara. It’s sad and frightening to think how many people need that money for useful things like eating and surviving. Whatever you do, I’m sure LD will love it! Because you love him and he knows that. I used to go what I thought was ALL out for my kids’ parties, but of course they pale in comparison. And for those, I even felt ridiculous. Pizza and cake for 20 kids! That’s my limit! xoxo


    Who the hell had the idea of undressing that poor fat kid? And making him sing, when, obviously, he can´t? It´s extremely humiliating!
    My mother basically forced me to buy wedding dress (it cost 50 euros) and make a party (26 guests) because we didn´t want any of it. But we were happy we got it after all. Oh, the party cost less than a thousand and it was a blast. I got no complaints so far.
    Anyway, I don´t know what a bar mitzvah party invitation should look like, but I´m sure this video was the worst possible scenario.


      You don’t need money to have a fun party.

      Yes, the part where he strips down became all too much for me. Not even because of his weight. Just in general. Yuck


        I wasn´t exactly a skinny kid either and if I imagine I´d have to do that, I think “yuck” is probably the word I´d use to describe my feelings. Eh.


    I would have gone nuts if my son had asked for a ridiculous, over the top party for his Bar Mitzvah and I HATE that video. It is just wrong.

    Have to concede my daughter has pretty specific ideas about her Bat Mitzvah, but it is nothing close to the excess I see sometimes. It just chaps my hide.


    Never knew you were a Jew, I thought you were a Catholic. Anyway almost every where in the world religious gatherings and functions are becoming another venue for show-off and flaunting. It creates a trend and then everybody jumps on the bandwagon.

    I like nicely managed events and parties with attention to detail but anything gaudy makes me uncomfortable.

    Feeding an entire Ethiopian village, forget it these people would not pool up their resources and bail out any needy neighbour or relative.


      For some reason people never think I’m Jewish. I’ve been told it’s because I have red hair, and not what are considered classically Semitic features.
      Not that you can see them! Hahaha


    These parties have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the kids. They’re clearly an excuse for the parents to show off their wealth. What a great message to give children.

    I walked through the John Varvatos store last week for the first time. There are sections of the walls that are preserved from when it was CBGB’s. There’s Plexiglas covering layer up on layer of band-stickers. I looked closely to try and find people I knew.


    While I don’t think that kid is going to win The Voice anytime soon, I’ve got to give him props for being self confident enough to put it all out there. He seemed to be enjoying himself. Maybe the performance was a dream come true for him. I agree some of these expensive parties seem excessive and foolish – but then again, most of us are watching every dime and such extravagance is something we would never dream of. If we had grown up in that culture of money, privilege and high society we might not think twice about it. Quite frankly, if I had millions to blow, I wouldn’t mind taking my family and friends on safari. I would just hope I would also do something good for those less fortunate in that (and other) areas while I was at it.


      Yes, I’d feel good about taking everyone on a safari if I was balancing it out with some sizable donations.

      I liked the video until the end. It seemed in really bad taste to strip down. But yeah- maybe this was his big dream!


    Fucking-ay. It all makes sense now. My daughter WILL have Mark Ronson DJ at her bat mitzvah in 3 years. Even if I have to sell my very soul to the devil to make the cash.


    This is a fantastic post – right on the money. WTF are people thinking with all these ridiculous “Super Sweet 16s” and over-the-top Bar/Bat Mitzvahs?? I applaud you for resisting the temptation to dangle LD over the cliff while singing the opening lines of Circle of Life. 😉


    “Fetty Wap, which sounds like the act of slapping someone in the face with a flaccid penis” – ha, ha! I laughed so “hard” at this (get it?).
    We had a quinceanera for my daughter and we paid about $3000 for appetizers, dj and venue and I was complaining about the cost! It really does get ridiculous. I am sure LD will have a lovely ceremony where his mom won’t embarrass him too much!


    You mentioned ludacris. Is he not available?



    It’s not the kids -it’s their parents. They have serious probems withsome serious showing off.


    LMAO…but seriously, Kenny G serenading on sax might contribute to a flaccid penis.


    We don’t have such parties, but I would love to see some pics of people who photograph these special events. Love your quirky way describing it. People tend to show off, and I guess it says more about them than their kids.


    For the love of G-d! That video is all kinds of wrong, and the wig is the tip of the iceberg. I can’t even – there aren’t enough words in the English language and my mouth is still hanging open with a thread of drool touching the table. I don’t often get struck dumb, especially on a Monday, but this may have just done me in for the rest of the week.


    That video was really gross. It could probably be used by hate groups to encite anti-sematism. Funny stuff as always.


    Your pic + caption “Rich Catholic boys everywhere are now converting to Judaism” made me laugh out loud! My oldest just aged out of making the Bar/Bat Mitzvah rounds, and my middle guy is right in the throws of celebrations. Both have asked if we could please convert to Judaism. The parties are over the top, the swag bags incredible, and invitations nicer than many wedding invites. There is no way a Catholic confirmation party can compete. Thanks so much for the laughs and refreshing outlook!

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