A Bar Mitzvah that Made an Impression
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.