Yoel’s Lickety-Split Bar Mitzvah

Yoel’s Lickety-Split Bar Mitzvah

Last August we reserved this coming Shabbat at the shul next door for Yoel’s bar mitzvah aliya l’Torah. Our first bar mitzvah after 4 bat mitzvahs.
I’ve been dreaming about this event for years. Yoel being called up for his first aliya, reading from the Torah, and the celebratory kiddush with family and friends afterward. Our families in North America had already ordered flights and hotels. Yoel was learning how to chant his parsha. And I was brainstorming about how to make this Shabbat an amazing experience for Yoel and our families.
And then…corona.
No more shuls, no more flights, no more parties, no more bar mitzvah celebration for my firstborn son.
And then this morning I saw the headlines. The Ministry of Health is finally opening up shuls! Up to 50 people allowed.
The bar mitzvah we had originally planned is actually happening!
Which means (gulp) I have 3 days to prepare for Yoel’s bar mitzvah Shabbat instead of several months…
And that means Yoel’s newest Shabbat pants and shirts were purchased before Rosh Hashana. And the Shabbat pants in his closet are wrinkled beyond recognition…
That means that Yoel learned only one aliya instead of the entire parsha, as his friends did.
That means that not only have I not invited anybody yet, I haven’t even made an invitation yet! And I can’t make one until I know for sure which shul Yoel will be doing his Torah reading in (and the gabbai of the shul next door hasn’t gotten back to me yet…)
That means that I haven’t even started thinking about fancy food platters, deluxe cakes, and cookies, bar-mitzvah-theme decorations…
Or even a haircut for my shaggy bar mitzvah boy.
At this point, I’m not sure which of these things will happen, and which of these things won’t.
But this morning, I sat down in the woods down the block to daven, and I decided to put aside my long not-done to-do list, and instead, focus on what is important.
Yoel’s a low-maintenance kid. What will make HIM happy? That his friends come to wish him “mazal tov,” that the shul members say “yasher koach” to him after his Torah reading, that we serve his favorite chocolate-chip cookies, made by his sister, at the kiddush.
My ego is saying but, but, but…How can there be a bar mitzvah without this or that or those?
But all that really matters is that Yoel is happy and that that happiness will put a bounce in his step and pride into his heart as he takes his first steps and performs his first mitzvot in the world as a Jewish man.
Mazal tov, Yoel!


  1. Mazel tov C.J.!! May you have lots of nachas!
    As they say “less “bar” and more mitzvah.

  2. Wow, this story made me so emotional, not sure why. May you feel deep connection with Hashem in this experience! Yoel should feel so proud that Hashem knows he’s being bar mitzvah and opened all shuls in honor of him!

  3. Mazal Tov!!!

  4. Mina Esther G

    Mazaltov to you and your family and especially to Yoel.
    I am amazed at how you are able to slice away the extraneous matter and focus on the truth that lIes within.
    You are 100% on target in my opinion, for the only thing that truly matters about a bar mitzvah is that the boy comes away feeling happy and proud that he has become a bar mitzvah

  5. Elana Mizrahi

    MAZEL TOV Jenny-Weisberg Family!!!

    You should have much much naches from Yoel and all our beautiful children bzH.

    In simchas!

    much love,


  6. Elana Mizrahi

    MAZEL TOV Jenny-Weisberg Family!!!

    You should have much much naches from Yoel and all our beautiful children bzH.

    In simchas! We are so happy for you.

    much love,


  7. Mazal tov! May Yoel and his siblings bring much nachas to you and klal Yisroel.

  8. WOW! MAZEL TOV! May you be blessed to savor this awesome joy!

  9. Mazel Tov!

  10. Chaya Basha

    However it is planned, may it be the best every simcha!
    Mazal Tov Yoel and your entire amazing family! May your parents and entire family continue to see much Yiddishe nachas from you and your siblings!

  11. OOOOPS!

    best EVER simcha!

  12. Mazel tov!!

  13. Mazel tov! I hope it was as beautiful as you could possibly imagine. I am in this with you. My son is 30th sivan and we are still in full lockdown so who knows what will be? It could still change in time.
    We are hoping that once this is all over, we’ll spend what we would have spent on a big party on a daily trip to Israel.
    Mazel tov to Yoel and all your family. Lots of nachas.

  14. Wow Mazal Tov. I hope it was beautiful and meaningful. Glad you got to do it in shul!

  15. faith/emuna

    mazal tov!!
    may we all be able to focus on the our brachot and not on what we are missing (but we r still allowed to acknowledge the loss)
    שירבו שמחות!

  16. Mazal tov to the Jenny-Weisberg family !!
    Wishing much Nachat, Torah, joy, health, connection to HaShem !
    So happy for happy news ! Mazal tov !!

  17. Esti Graham

    Sooo happy for you! Hashem gave you and Yoel exactly the right bar mitzvah for him. Always is. I had an unconventional bar mitzvah last year, and when we couldn’t figure out the where, what, when because it was complicated I also stopped and said, what would make the bar mitzvah boy happy? We ended up going to his very rustic camp and he leined a couple of aliyios and had an entire dining room of boys wishing him siman tov umazel tov, he was grinning ear to ear and we all ate camp food. And it was perfect for him! Hoping we are all back to some semblance of normal before next erev Pesach….

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