Bar Mitzvah Party - July 30, 2011

July 2011 Photo by Joe & Rhonda Trawick - Good Friends Good Photographers

I got to write about my Bar Mitzvah party…..Now I’ve already written something in one of my little stories about my Bar Mitzvah but I don’t think I mentioned the party afterwards….If I did I’m sorry but here is the July 30, 2011 version of the story, either the first one or the second one…….:-)  I mean I write a little story EVERYDAY, sometimes TWICE A DAY, and I’m only 62 years old, I mean I might repeat a story or two accidentally just cause my memory ain’t that good, I ain’t that old and some stories get funnier the second time you tell’em or NOT funnier……:-) So if you’ve already read something like this on my blog before, sue me…..:-)

Now for all you folks who come from towns or communities where every corner has a church on it and you never even heard of a synagogue or if you saw one you wouldn’t know what it was, maybe a bowling alley……;-) Well here’s your Jewish cultural update for today……:-) When a young Jewish boy approaches his 13th year, his 13th birthday he is considered a man. He reads from the Torah, (the first five books of Moses, not the first five books of the Harry Potter series, the first five books of Moses, got it? OK……:-) He is brought into the fold as it were of the synagogue. He is a man. Now I reckon at 13 years of age kids might have been a man, with manly responsibilities when Pharaoh Ramses was chasing us around the Sinai desert for 40 years, but Jewish kids today? Well that’s not fair, let me rephrase that, THIS JEWISH KID…..:-) When Paul From Alabama was 13 I couldn’t even make my own bed up, tie my tie to wear with my suit on the day of my Bar Mitzvah…..:-) Much less keep an eye open for the Egyptian Army so they don’t come swooping down on us Israelites by surprise

I guess Jewish kids back then helped pack the camels for moving around the Sinai desert all the time for 40 years. Or maybe even at that age had families of their own. Kept watch on the goats and sheep so they didn’t fall prey to wolves or lions or leopards or God forbid, stolen by some of them nasty old thieving Philistines……:-) I’m positive about one thing for sure, a 13 year old Jewish kid back then might have been a man, a real man. A man through circumstances, culture or necessity but when Paul From Alabama turned 13?……I couldn’t pack my own suitcase for summer camp without my mother doing it for me……..:-)

I lived in the Sinai desert  for a good while back in the late 70′s and moved around the desert nearly everyday with a bedouin guide or by myself or with some Israeli army friends who were stationed on bases in the Sinai back then. And because of that experience I got a lot more respect and admiration for them Israelites of old. Running around the desert, especially the Sinai desert with it’s sand dunes, flat rocky plains or tall barren for the most part mountains ain’t no piece of cake. And if you don’t know what you’re doing, YOU DIE…..and you do all that with a bunch of yahoo, sword wheeling, chariot riding, Egyptians chasing you around for 40 years, well like I said, I think a lot more of them Israelites than I ever did before I lived in Israel and the Sinai desert.

I’m sorry fellow gardeners I had to go off for minute and move that PVC irrigation contraption that Jack Spears was nice enough to give me to use in the rather hot and humid weather we seem to have every year about this time…..I call it an Alabama Summer, my cousin from New York calls it “what HELL is going to feel like one of these days”…….:-) Now where was I going with this little story? Oh yeah, my Bar Mitzvah party…..:-) So on the day of Bar Mitzvah the whole congregation assembles so they can hear me read my portion of the Torah (remember fellow gardeners, the Torah is the first 5 books of the Bible, the word of God as revealed by Moses and some other good folks, NOT the first 5 books of the Harry Potter series or even the first five books of that great writer of great literature that my mother reads more than the she reads the Bible these days, those Danielle Steel potboilers, love stories, or as I refer to them just to aggravate mother, I call them affectionately what they are, TRASHY NOVELS……..:-)

But let’s not mince words here fellows gardeners, not tell what I wish happened but what really happened, THE TRUTH AS I KNOW IT…..The folks who were members of our congregation, our synagogue gathered together that morning NOT to hear me read my portion from the Torah as a celebration of me, Paul From Alabama, coming of age. NO, they assembled cause after they had to sit through me trying to sound like a fluent speaker of Hebrew, a Torah scholar and newest member of the Jewish community, they had gathered cause my father has spent around a $1,000 for enough bagels, cream cheese, lox, cheese danishes, salami, corned beef, Kosher dills, blintzes, matzoh ball soap and chocolate eclairs to feed the entire ancient Israelite people every day wandering around in the Sinai desert for 40 years and enough bagels and cream cheese to feed the Egyptian Army too……..:-)  If we’re God’s Chosen People, and sometimes I wonder about that…..:-) Then one of the things we were “Chosen” for was to eat……:-) Good Lord l ain’t never in my whole life seen so much good food as they was to eat as soon as I finished reciting my bit of Torah that March morning in 1962…..It was the party or celebration for the adults that morning, well the whole congregation, kids and adults alike but later than night was the party for the kids, my friends from public school and Hebrew school too….And that’s what I’m going to tell you about now if I can ever keep to the point and stop going off on these different tangents…….:-)

Sorry fellow gardeners one more thing before I get to the party that night for the kids…..As I looked out on that sea of Jews out in the audience, that filled the synagogue to the rafters I saw one thing and one thing only. One thing that caught my eye and I focused on that whole time I was up there on the podium reading from the Torah. And you know what it was? My loving father? My loving mother? My loving Grandfather or Grandmother?……No fellow gardeners I can’t say that I did. In the interest of full disclosure I only saw and kept my eye on my best friend from Piedmont, Brad Snead. The only Baptist in the building if you don’t count grandmother but at the time she claimed to be a Methodist so as my granny’s little boy, then and for the rest of her life, if she said she was Methodist, well a Methodist she was……:-)

Now everyone, well all the men and male kids in the congregation had on dark suits. black, brown, blue, you name it….and the kids my age? They were like a bunch of lemmings that walk off a cliff to their deaths cause they can’t think for themselves and do whatever the person or lemming does that is right in front of them. Every kid in audience had on a seersucker or Madras sport coat……I mean every kid out there……:-) Every kid EXCEPT my best Baptist friend from Piedmont, Alabama., Brad Snead……He had on a white sport coat, with a little red carnation in the lapel. Lace up shoes, instead of the thousands of pairs of loafers all the other kids had on and my old friend for nearly 60 years now, old Brad Snead had on the only pair of white socks within a 10 mile radius of the synagogue…….:-)

Brad in his white sport coat, white socks and tie-up shoes was like a beacon for me to focus on until my part of the service was over. Like a lighthouse on the coast of Maine, Brad brought me home safely till my Bar Mitzvah was finally over. I can see him now, kinda shy, kinda embarrassed, not embarrassed like you think but kinda wondering if it was safe to be sitting among that sea of Jews that March morning in 1962 in the Beth El synagogue……:-) I will remember my best friend Brad sharing my celebration of becoming a “man” for the rest of my life and it was and will always be one of my fondest memories…..

Paul From Alabama


One more special memory, no two, I want to share with you fellow gardeners before I move Jack’s irrigation contraption to a different part of the garden. The party that night for the kids? Well it was a real success. Some of my mother’s friends from the congregation helped her decorate the room we had the party in. And again we had enough food that night for not only all my little friends but all the Jews in ancient Israel along with all the Cannanites and Philistines too…….:-) And we had a live band that played all the popular songs of 1962 and they highlight of the party? Well I got up on stage with some of my little buddies and we sang the words to Louie, Louie, no small feat anyway you look at. I’ve listened to that song a million times and I still can’t figure out what the heck they were singing about except I know it was dirty so back then we all loved it, the song that is…….:-)

Oh the other memory? Brad still in his white sport court with a red carnation in the lapel, white socks and tie up shoes, dancing with the prettiest girl in the room. Slow dancing too!!! After that party, every kid I knew got them a white sport, a pair of tie up shoes and a drawer full of white socks…..:-) Again i don’t want to perpetuate stereotypes about Jews but they don’t  call us a smart people for nothing……..:-) If Brad Snead, a southern Baptist from Piedmont ends up with dancing with the prettiest girl in the room most of the night,and he’s wearing a white sport coat and white socks, well you can believe that every Jewish kid I knew back then had a new addition to the fashion statements they made at all the Bar Mitzvah parties ever after that year when we all turned 13 years old. Just like a bunch of lemmings following each other over a cliff cause the lemming in front of them did, every Jewish kid in my school had a white sport coat and white socks just like my best friend, and only the Baptist that showed up for my Bar Mitzvah and party had on. Atlanta’s new Jewish community’s fashion setter, my best friend, Brad Snead from Piedmont,…….

Paul From Alabama

The comments below were transferred from my “old” blog as was the little story above with the date of the story as shown.

Linda from MGM
That Brad is a smooooth operator…and another stand-up kinda guy.
Saturday, July 30, 2011 - 10:19 AM
Philip Mallows
So, who was the girl????
Saturday, July 30, 2011 - 11:00 AM
It also reminded me of when Louie Arnett (the new kid after you) showed up in Jr. High with florescent green socks and then every male in Jr. High had to get them too. I found years later that Louie is color blind. He had no idea he had been such a trend-setter!
Saturday, July 30, 2011 - 11:42 AM
Paul……Thanx for educating me on the rites of passage for a young Jewish boy. I learned a bunch from this story and realize that George had a significant financial investment in you at the time you became a teenager. Seems that Brad came out smelling like a rose even though he stood out like a sore thumb…..or maybe that was his plan all along!!!…  Rickey
Saturday, July 30, 2011 - 07:45 PM
Wonderful story.  So, you were living in Atlanta in 1962?  And Jewish in the South.  Must have been interesting.  Up here in Chicago, there are a lot of Jews, including a good number of Orthodox and Reformed(?).  I see them walking to and from services if I happen to be driving on Sat. morning.  The nearest suburbs, Skokie (with an AWESOME Jewish deli) and Lincolnwood, could probably give Miami Beach a run for its money in terms of synagoues.
Monday, August 1, 2011 - 04:06 PM

2 responses

17 08 2011

fun story! There is a very large Jewish population so I’m more than familiar. Around here, it’s a grand affair, and people spend 50,000 on incredible parties. My friend was just telling methe other day about one she went to as a kid - there was a boardwalk theme with all kinds of games and “shops”, and one game was an actual money machine (where you go in and the air blows bills all around and you grab them…).

My daughter is 13 and as you might imagine, we do a lot of shopping for dresses these days!

18 08 2011

Wendy I gotta get me one of them machines that blow money all around……:-)

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