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Idol Chatter

Extravagant bar mitzvah’s (you know, Long Island extravagant) have been all the rage for years now. The parties for twelve and thirteen year old boys and girls that cost something approximating the price tag of a house in order to celebrate the Jewish rite of passage into adulthood, where the celebrations all but render the actual ritual virtually irrelevant. All that prep and learning for the sake of the after-party, not the rite itself.
Sigh. I mean, I like a good party, but today we let everything get so out of hand.
And now, to comply with everybody’s busy schedules and the way technology rules our lives, comes the online bar and bat mitzvah prep! Yup. Study for your bar mitzvah from the comfort of your own computer on skype and without the bother of having to be in any of that pesky in-person community whatsoever with your peers at all! Or so says, “Bar Mitzvah Studies Take to the Web,” this weekend in the New York Times:
“If dating, shopping and watching TV can be revolutionized by the Internet, why should bar and bat mitzvahs be immune? Parents who once might have turned to their local synagogue for Hebrew lessons and spiritual guidance are now turning to Google, where a quick search on “bar mitzvah” turns up sites like MyBarMitzvahTeacher.com (“the easiest way to prepare for your bar mitzvah”), barmitzvahlessons.com (“NO synagogue fees, membership dues, building fees”), and Jewish-Wedding-Rabbi.com, whose founder, Rabbi Andrea Frank, also conducts other “life cycle” ceremonies, including pet funerals.”
Okay. Maybe there are a few positives of this. Apparently online bar mitzvah prep is good for kids with learning disabilities–I can get on board there. Also, the one-on-one tutoring can be really great–I’m sure that’s the case, too. But some other “positives” listed is for the anti-community families–those that can’t be bothered to be part of a synagogue, well, ever, not even for their children’s bar and bat mitzvah. Apparently, the online tutoring helps them stave off this–shudder–community piece. This makes me sad. As technology makes it easier and easier to stay home, will religious communities become a thing of the past?

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