When I came home from my office at Wilshire Boulevard Temple yesterday, there were two bright-eyed, happy girls at work with my wife. She was teaching them the complicated knots for the traditional fringes that were to grace the corners of their homemade prayer shawls. Making those prayer shawls with the help of their mother, two grandmothers and a great-grandmother was an exciting part of the family's bat mitzvah preparations.
In my 42 years as rabbi of Wilshire Boulevard Temple, an old (chartered 1862), large (2,500 families) and prestigious Reform Jewish congregation, I have witnessed very few bar or bat mitzvah celebrations matching the image projected by your article. They exist. They are an embarrassment. They subvert a sacred ceremony whose meaning should be the preparation of a young man or woman for a responsible life of caring and of giving.
Thank God, in the majority of cases, it is.
ALFRED WOLF, Ph.D