Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Simcha inflation—an illustration

Here’s my original.

Here’s the update.

As if the peer pressure of trying to “keep up with the Jones” isn’t bad enough, now it’s halachah/Jewish religious law??!! In all my life, I’ve been to only one brit milah (ritual circumsion) at which meat was served (to the best of my recollection). Since when does halachah dictate what foods a person is allowed to serve at his or her own simchah/joyous occasion (beyond the obvious fact that the food must be kosher)?

Lion of Zion’s response reflects my own opinion:

"If one simply cannot afford to serve meat to the many guests that are expected to attend, then meat need not be served."

the alternative is not to invite 200 people to a fancy bris. the truth is that even the "standard" milchig bris these days is not cheap. i think romer in teaneck charges more than $15-20 per person for what is essentially $3 worth of food.

"there were even communities in which the meal following a bris consisted of little more than a "l'chaim" and some cake due to the dire financial straits of the time."

i thought this was the standard in the previous generation? i don't remember my own bris too well, but my brother's was held in my grandparents' (modest-sized) living room.

Lion of Zion Homepage 07.07.09 - 8:40 am #

Our son’s brit milah was performed by a mohel (ritual circumcizer) in the hospital, where I was still recovering from a Caesarian. The only people in attendance were members of my husband’s and my immediate families, and we served bagels with dairy. What’s the big deal, that a bris has to be such a big deal?

Today’s bris is like the Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations of my childhood. Today’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah celebration is like the weddings of my childhood. Today’s weddings? Off the chart, and guaranteed to leave a pile of debt. The Jewish community—of all denominations—has lost all sense of proportion.


Blogger BrooklynWolf said...

Walter's bris was on Yom Tov -- Simchas Torah. We didn't have meat. If we didn't have it for his bris, we certainly didn't have it for George's bris, which was on a "normal" day.

As an aside, who wants to have meat at eight in the morning (when most brissim are held)?

The Wolf

Wed Jul 08, 03:46:00 PM 2009  
Anonymous jdub said...

Bagels, lox, and cream cheese. maybe orange juice and coffee, if I remember correctly.

Also, I dispute your generalization. Get out of NY! Come "out of town" and you'll see some of us still have our priorities in order. My daughter's bat mitzvah (next year, b'ezrat Hashem) will be a seudah shlishit morphing into a melava malka. Probably one guy on keyboards after shabbat singing, light milchigs for the meal, dessert and dancing. It's about the milestone, not the party.

And we're in the Washington, DC area, which isn't exactly the sticks.

Wed Jul 08, 05:27:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Brooklyn Wolf, that menu sounds about right.

JDub, maybe it's time for us to move.

"It's about the milestone, not the party." Amen!

Wed Jul 08, 05:48:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Tevel said...

I think you'd find that this clebration inflation goes well outside the Jewish community. From First Communions to Quinceaneras, Kindergarten Graduation to simple recitals, people have gone simply meshugas about overdoing celebrations. Good for you, jdub. I think you have the right idea!

Wed Jul 08, 05:49:00 PM 2009  
Anonymous Too Old to Jewschool Steve said...

Google "faux mitzvah". As an uncle of several Manhattan private (secular) school students, I know its a regular event.

Not being much of the ostentatious party types ourselves, we celebrated my first daughter's bat mitzvah (prior to the actual ceremony and kiddush) by joining a UJC family mission to Israel. I had to pick up the bat mitzvah at camp a few days before the end of the session, so we could leave on time. A prominent metro NY rabbi was working the front desk when I arrived to bail out the kid; he asked why I was pulling her before the last shabbat, and I explained the circumstances. He shook my hand heartily, saying "you're my hero!" and expressed the desire that more of his congregants would do the same. That made me feel really good.

Wed Jul 08, 09:15:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Now that's what I call a real Bat Mitzvah celebration!

Wed Jul 08, 10:54:00 PM 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This isn't new; it's just that thanks to the Internet and the instant communication, we find out about these events more quickly and easily.
I remember declining to have a Bat Mitzvah over 48 years ago when it was just starting to be "fashionable" because I didn't want my parents to go through the expense.
My younger cousin's Bar Mitzvah (conducted over 40 years ago)took place at a hotel from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning with meals, the Sunday paper for each table, over 100 people, game room, special kids' ice cream sundae bar, chocolate fountain, sit down fleshig meal for Saturday and Sunday nights, etc. etc.
Ostentatious enough, yes?
Now it's all themes and such.
And of course, G-d forbid you shouldn't give a big money gift -- even back then!
So, just to remind the bar Mitzvah boy that it wan't only about how much money and gold pens he received, my fiance and I bought him a fancy book with a Jewish theme -- can't remember now the title -- it cost about 35 dollars.
Hollywood/TV's description of Jews doesn't help either. A preview of a show on USA network, "The ROyal Pains" set in the Hamptons, mentions a "Bark Mitzvah" next week.
As to fleshig served at a bris?
I have never been to a bris where meat was served. Of course, the last bris I went to was over 30 years ago.
Hmm, seeing a trend here.

Sun Jul 12, 12:09:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

I wasn't aware that such fancy flings were taking place that long ago. It was thoughtful of you to spare your parents that nonsense.

Cheer up, you're not the only Ancient Mariner around here. :)

Sun Jul 12, 10:57:00 PM 2009  

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