Why Mitzvahs, Why Now?

 I wore a white frilly dress and my grandfather’s tallit (prayer shawl.) My hair was permed and my braces had recently been taken off for the event. I felt strong and filled with pride. I was continuing my family’s tradition and it meant something to me. 

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I remember so clearly what it felt like to stand up in front of my friends and family and tell them about how I wanted to contribute to the world and about how the experience of preparing for the special day had changed my perspective. I felt it then and looking back, I still feel that now.

The decision for us to make Mitzvah Videos at Portraits That Move may seem like a bit of a left turn, since so much of what we do is about capturing the average day in the life of kids and their families. It actually isn’t and here’s why.

To me, life is all about the following truths: family, closeness, celebration, tradition, joy and gratitude. Every day that we create videos for Portraits that Move, I have these truths in mind. Making mitzvah videos allows us to create something that is about all of them at one time.

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Bar and Bat Mitzvahs are celebrations with family. They are filled with joy and tradition.  I see a wonderful opportunity to enrich the experience that a family is having by giving them the chance to document their own feelings about the process. This is super empowering for kids and for parents. The result is something that they have to share with their guests and to look at and remember forever.

The empowerment of going through a mitzvah process cannot be underestimated. It can be a defining moment for a child. We want to be part of that - to document that shift and to celebrate, celebrate, celebrate. Let’s celebrate together.

Mitzvah Montage Review from NY Mom

New York mom Stacey Leibowitz just celebrated her daughter Charlotte’s Bat Mitzvah. The party, planned by Partow Events and held at Brooklyn’s 26Bridge, included a Mitzvah Montage from Portraits that Move.

Stacey says “I cherish the montage for a moving snapshot of our lives with our daughter to this point. It captures her with her most important relationships – friends, family, camp life, dance – all the things that matter most to her.”

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We couldn’t be happier to hear this! We chatted with Stacey about the Mitzvah Montage process, and what the experience was like for her an her family. Here’s what she had to say.

What were your expectations for the Mitzvah Montage creation process? How did the experience compare to your expectations?

I was amazed at how easy the process with Susannah was. The hardest part was culling down photos and getting my 13 year old to agree to which photos we were ‘allowed’ to use!

In one 45 minute call, Susannah engaged me and my daughter, asked her thoughtful questions and started to frame an approach to the video. We were able to complete the process after two reviews, during which Susannah was supportive and had great suggestions. The second and final version took our suggestions and made them even better. Her editor is fantastic.

After watching the montage, what struck you the most? 

In 5 minutes, Susannah encapsulated the joy that our daughter has within her and that joy that she shares with her family and friends.

She was able to take my daughter’s choice of music and made it flow and really align to the moment in the photos.

What was the reaction at the Mitzvah celebration?

The video was the perfect length. There was laughter, lots of oohs and aahs, and many tears. A perfect reaction!

Have people shared the montage since the event?

It is wonderful to have the link to share. We did not share it broadly, but sent to family after the bat mitzvah. It allowed them to savor the moments that they may have missed in a large event space and made it a more intimate experience. I’m sure the Grandmas have watched it over and over!

To plan your Mitzvah Montage, contact us.

4 Self Care Tips for Bar Mitzvah Planning Moms

Bar Mitzvah planning is a hectic, often overwhelming process. You are likely to find yourself second guessing, worrying over details large and small, and wondering if you are doing enough to support and celebrate your child. Basically, it's a microcosm of parenting.

There are so many decisions to be made, from the Bar/Bat Mitzvah planner to the venue, to the theme, to the Bar Mitzvah montage video, to the guest lists and seating charts. It is a recipe for stress, especially for already busy moms.

Original Photo by  Lonely Planet  on  Unsplash

Original Photo by Lonely Planet on Unsplash

Work with a Planner and Delegate

Do not attempt this on your own! Hire a Bar Mitzvah planner that you trust, who understands what you want, from the vibe to the budget. When you hire a planner, you are bringing in an expert who will connect you with Bar Mitzvah vendors that save you the stress of feeling like you have to reinvent the wheel, or manage the entire world.

Here’s the catch, though, and it is essential to self care: delegate. Let your planner do what he/she does best and do not stress over whether or not they will do what they say. If you hired the right person, they truly understand what is at stake, and they will not let you down. After all, their business, and their reputation, are on the line.

Delegate to your family, too. Involve your child, who will no doubt have ideas of his/her own. But be sure to come to them with calmness and with appropriate sized jobs and reasonable expectations, otherwise you compound the stress for both of you. Use the planning (and delegating!) process as time to talk with your son or daughter about the experience, and to encourage self care - for both of you – as you prepare.

Be Confident in Your Decisions

Once you make a decision, whether it is about the venue, the Bat Mitzvah dress, or who to invite (or not invite), check it off the list and move on. Nothing is more exhausting (and less productive) than second guessing yourself. Now is not the time to add more exhaustion to your days and nights - you will be busy enough moving on to the next Bar/Bat Mitzvah planning details.

We have seen too many parents about to crumble when they are picking images for the Bar Mitzvah montage portion of our videos. As a parent in the midst of this process, if you don’t take time to slow down and practice a little self care, suddenly, you can’t make a single decision without fearing that it is the wrong one. Remember the advice you got when you brought home the little baby that’s now not so little and nowhere near a baby: you will know what’s best.

You know what’s right for you and for your family. You know the moments that matter most to you and to each other. Those are the moments you want to include in your video, those are the moments that have led to this one. Be confident in all the right decisions that you have made and are making. They are what brought you and your child to this point, and they are what you are celebrating.

Check in with Friends

Way back when you were a new mom, you met a group of friends that were your safe space to ask questions about diaper blowouts and how many times to check on the baby once he finally fell asleep. Guess what? Those same moms are going through the Bar/Bat Mitzvah planning process, too. Rally your group of moms, whether you have been in touch on a daily basis or not. Meet for a drink, have a few laughs, and talk about the ups and downs of this process in a way that only other moms going through it will understand.

Photo by  Becca Tapert  on  Unsplash

Listen to their recommendations about DJs and party supplies, but also ask them the questions you can’t ask anyone else. How am I really going to feel? What happened to my baby? What can we do to support each other from the party details to the new reality of parenting older kids? Just as you supported each other in your early days as moms, you will see the value of supporting each other now – of being heard and understood by people who really get it. There is no substitute for the energy we get from other supportive moms. It’s the perfect way to restore our sense of balance at this time (just be sure this is a circle you trust – we’re talking about collaboration, not competition!).

Step Away and Spend Time with your Child

Let this be your mantra: "this is about my child." Do not lose sight of the reason you are doing all of this Bar/Bat Mitzah planning. This is a time to celebrate your child, and there is no better way to do that than to spend a bit of time with them. Listen to what your son has to say, not just about his Bar Mitzvah theme ideas, but about what the preparation process feels like for him. How is he growing and changing? Does he have any fears about the day? Ask your daughter to show you what she is reading, and how she is preparing. Talk with her about what her Bat Mitzvah experience means, and how it is preparing her for her next steps in life.

These conversations ground us, they restore us. When we take a moment to talk with our children we not only remember what the Bar Mitzvah experience is about. We have the opportunity to practice self care and model that for our children, and we get to move from feeling overwhelmed to feeling excited, and grateful as the day approaches.

- Elizabeth Eames, August 2018

Elizabeth Eames is a professional communicator, a parent, and a member of the Portraits that Move Team.