Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bar Mitzvah Battle - Who Pays for What?

Dear Ella,
My son Aaron’s bar mitzvah is still a couple of years away, but I’m starting to think about it now. Aaron’s father and I are divorced, and I don’t know how that’s going to affect Aaron’s bar mitzvah.

Do we each have our own celebration? Do we have one together? Do we split everything down the middle? I have no idea where to start. Aaron’s dad and I tolerate each other and communicate for the sake of our two sons, but the divorce left us both very bitter, and we certainly don’t share any kind of friendly feelings. Financially, I’m not in the same bracket as Aaron’s dad, and I can’t afford to split an elaborate affair. Can you provide any kind of guidelines on how to handle this?
Bar Mitzvah Battle
Dear Bar Mitzvah Battle
Aaron’s bar mitzvah is a very important day, and one he will remember for his entire life. With that said, both parents must bend over backward to make this day very special, and everything else must take a back seat. If the two of you can’t be clear on that, then decide early and have separate celebrations.
Ideally, it would be special for Aaron to have all his family and friends together to celebrate his religious rite of passage. This will take much give and take from both of you, and complete co-operation and compromise. There are so many components involved: aliyot, invitation wording, cost, seating plans, number of guests, candlelighting, speeches, etc. All decisions should be put in writing, so there are no misunderstandings. Under no circumstances can Aaron be put in the middle. That’s not to say that he shouldn’t be involved in planning his bar mitzvah. He may have some very specific thoughts.
As long and the two of you continue to put your son’s feelings ahead of your own, you should be able to get through this with class and maybe even have some fun! As for cost, split everything down the middle and budget according to what’s affordable for both parents. A bar mitzvah can be very meaningful and tasteful without all the hype you often see these days. This is Aaron’s day, a day he will have prepared and studied for. He’ll be nervous enough. Make sure he’s not nervous about either of you.

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