Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A Bar Mitzvah that Made an Impression

The best bar mitzvah I ever attended, though I didn't realize at the time, was that of Howard P. Howard wasn't even a friend of mine, just a casual acquaintance from the extended neighborhood who went to the same schools. But he was a good friend of my good friend Michael Z. To my surprise he invited me to his bar mitzvah.

Howard was a lot less well off than most of my friends. His parents were Polish immigrants, and I believe his father was a barber. Instead of hiring a catering hall, the reception was held in their apartment, a casual gathering. I remember standing in the apartment crowded with guests, eating cold cuts, the food for the party. I remember Howard's father shaking my hand and thanking me for coming. This was the only bar mitzvah party of its kind I ever attended. All the rest were at glitzy catering halls where the main dinner course was always prime ribs of beef au jus (a joke among us kids was "Or jus' what?"). Howard's party was a simple celebration while all the others were status symbols. Its humility and inclusiveness touches me these many years later.

The amazing thing is that I remember the party fairly vividly, when the only other bar mitzvah I have any memories of is my own. I also remember Howard's complicated four-syllable Polish family name.


Blogger Richard said...

Can you still come to my bar mitzvah? Somehow your first invitation got lost in the mail.

10:49 PM  
Blogger Peter Cherches said...

I've been to bar mitzvahs at the Deauville, of course, but I never knew your middle name was Arnold. It's rather early in the morning, but learning that is the highlight of my day so far.

7:35 AM  
Blogger Brian Olewnick said...

Reading your post the first time, I thought the guy's name was Howard P. Howard.

8:27 AM  

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