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Modern Religion

From the New Yorker, a glimpse at the work of a Manhattan party planner. [1] Here, Mauro helps a young Jewish private school girl and her mother prepare for her bat mitzvah, the ceremony in which a girl marks her entrance into the fullness of communal religious life:

Mikayla, a seventh grader at Chapin, arrived with her mother, Amy Shecter, who is the C.E.O. of CorePower Yoga. Mauro began his pitch: “This is your bat mitzvah,” he said. “Don’t let me go down a wrong road because you feel like you’re going to hurt my feelings.”

Mikayla, who wore a plaid T-shirt and had her hair in a ponytail, nodded.

“So where is this party?” he asked.

Shecter said, “It’s at Arena”—a Times Square night club with interiors reminiscent of the Death Star. “We’re having our ceremony there, too. We thought we would put velvet curtains around anything you have to set up early.”

“My stuff at a service is ugly,” Mauro said. “You don’t have a photo booth in a temple.”

Shecter said, “I think it’s important to understand that this is a family event for us. We want it to be about the celebration of the bat mitzvah. I know Mikayla feels very strongly about this.” She went on, “We’re taking a very artsy approach to the ceremony. I’m Jewish, my husband is Greek Orthodox—so we’re using poetry and music.” She added, “Mikayla’s at an all-girls school, so it’s going to be more of a girl-power event.”

Mauro: “Are you inviting boys that you’re friends with or just cousins who are boys?”


Mikayla: “Um, cousins, and maybe camp friends?”

Mauro: “Then we need that one item to make them know we didn’t forget about them.” He suggested an L.E.D. air-hockey table.

Shecter: “Maybe something that’s unisex?”

Mauro: “I’m not going lipstick station here.”

Shecter: “We should tell you about our ideas, because we definitely want a makeup area. Mikayla’s initials are M.A.K., like MAC Cosmetics, so we thought we could play on that.”

Mauro pulled up a photo of an illuminated vanity table. “This is our beauty bar,” he said. “We could do some type of photo station with it.”

Shecter nodded. “Did we talk about anything else?” she asked her daughter.

Mikayla said, “Airbrushed stuff? Hats or something?”

Airbrushed hats. Think of it.

55 Comments (Open | Close)

55 Comments To "Modern Religion"

#1 Comment By panda On May 28, 2015 @ 9:42 pm

“* One memorable Torah reading had a girl who was a vegetarian cringing while reading a section about animal sacrifice. The Rabbi explained why they were no longer done, and frame it in a way that made sense to a modern audience, but it ended up feeling strained.

My haftarah contained verses from Isaiah 1 (How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers). Harlot= zonah, the common modern name for prostitute in Hebrew. That one caused me a lot of giggles..

#2 Comment By Brian On May 28, 2015 @ 10:19 pm

My son was at a bar mitzvah recently where a special guest was announced……..a local NY sports star, a favorite of the young man who’s day it was.
A dwarf in a sports uniform came running out onto the dance floor. I’m not kidding.

#3 Comment By cecelia On May 28, 2015 @ 10:23 pm

obviously Rod you have never spent any time in Short Hills, NJ. I have been to bat/bar mitzvahs with firework displays that rivalled my small towns 4th celebration – another time we were transported from the synagogue to the reception hall in rented antique cars – 30 of them in the procession.

#4 Comment By Naturalmom On May 29, 2015 @ 7:33 am

Good god, you could just lift that whole dialog and put it in the next Hunger Games movie — Bat Mitzvah in The Capitol. Stunning

#5 Comment By heartright On May 30, 2015 @ 4:11 pm

As I live,” declares the Lord GOD, “Sodom, your sister and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done.

49″Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy.

50″Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it.