We here at the Bar & Bat Mitzvah Guide thought it would be helpful to share the bar mitzvah stories of families who have already planned and hosted a bat mitzvah and lived to tell about it. These families have learned what to do (and sometimes what not to do) and are willing to share their knowledge with our readers. Pick up some helpful hints and savvy suggestions from moms, dads, and kids, as they share their personal experiences with you.
On March 16, 2013, Gary Mohamed and Suzanne Lovett pulled off the seemingly impossible. The loving parents (who had thrown their older son Zach, a bar mitzvah only a year earlier) had to find a way to execute one perfect coming-of-age ceremony for two individual people — their fraternal twins, Emma and Jakey Mohamed. Read on to find out how Mohamed and Lovett managed to accomplish the massive feat at Congregation Kol Ami in White Plains, by hosting one event that satisfied all their guests, and more importantly, both their teens.
BBMG: Was there a reception theme?
Suzanne Lovett: There was no theme other than a celebration of the children, which is why the room decorations featured portraits of them doing their favorite activities and a customized logo. The cake was decorated with names of their favorite camps, teams, songs, nicknames, movies, vacation spots, and pets.
BBMG: What was the most rewarding experience during the b’nei mitzvah process?
Gary Mohamed: Watching two siblings who have been known to bicker endlessly actually bond together and go through such a remarkable process while knowing that they could count on each other.
SL: From a parent’s perspective, it was incredible to observe our children reach out to each other.
BBMG: What was the biggest challenge?
SL: Making sure that each child felt celebrated, special, and accomplished in his and her own way.
BBMG: What was your Torah portion?
Emma Mohamed: My Torah portion was pretty unexciting. It was about the rules and wardrobe of the ancient priests.
Jakey Mohamed: My Torah portion was about sacrifices to God.
BBMG: What was your favorite moment from the day?
JM: My favorite moment was reading my Torah portion.
EM: It was really cool to see all the people who came to share such a special day with me. I really liked seeing all my friends being happy and having fun.
SL: When we gave the children their blessings, we wrote one for Emma and one for Jakey. Then we gave a brief blessing to both of them because while we have always recognized them as separate individuals, we also had to acknowledge they were twins.
GM: Watching them reach out to hold hands while we gave them their joint blessing was incredible.
BBMG: Did you have a mitzvah project?
EM: We volunteered for the “A League.”
JM: It’s a sports league for children with developmental or physical disabilities.
BBMG: What was the coolest aspect of your bar and bat mitzvah celebration?
JM: Reading from the Torah in front of everyone and showing them what I knew about it.
EM: Reading from the Torah, especially when the rabbi invited all the guests who had never seen what a Torah looks like to stand with me on the bimah as I read my portion.
BBMG: What is the biggest piece of advice you can give to kids preparing for the big day?
EM: It’s not as scary once you’re in the service — and don’t worry about messing up because everyone does and it’s not as big a deal as you think it would be.
JM: Don’t worry about it and just keep studying your portion.
BBMG: What is your biggest piece of advice to parents planning such a large event?
SL: Follow your instincts. We wanted the event to reflect our family’s values. The twins’ grandmother and great-uncle composed their own words to speak to them. Both children had their own tallis, but they followed our family tradition and read from the Torah using their great-grandfather’s tallis that has been used by their uncles and their cousins at their bar mitzvahs.
GM: Their older brother Zach played the cello during the meditation portion of the service. All of these small items, including their customized logo and the video presentation by a comedian who is an old family friend, made the day feel very personal and special. Even Emma’s horse showed up for the event.
SL: The horse! Emma has been riding at Twin Lakes Farm for about five years. The owner, Scott Tarter, offered to bring Wendy (the horse Emma rides) in a trailer as a bat mitzvah gift because he knows the girls love having their photos taken in their fancy dresses with their horses. Definitely need to mention him and give a huge thank you for his generosity!
BBMG: Have any tricks of the trade?
SL: The harder part was making this celebration unique to the twins and not a repeat of our older son’s bar mitzvah. So while we used a lot of the same vendors, we focused on our children’s individual personalities to make the day feel special to them.
Photographer: Todd Shapera Photography
Venue: Kol Ami
Decorations: Xquisite Flowers
Cake: Sweets by Alissa
Entertainment: Tom Cotter was supposed to appear, but had a conflict with his “America’s Got Talent” program, so he made a customized video presentation for the kids.
Favors: Sweatshirts and logo design by Shoreline of NY
Invitations: The Write Stuff
©2014 Community News Group
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