LETTERS
Lavish simchas

YOUR correspondent Martin Stern’s comments about lavish simchas are disingenuous.

Families who hold them are often exceptionally generous long-term donors to charities and communal causes.

Moreover, if a very wealthy family held an “austerity” barmitzvah or batmitzvah, then you could be sure that someone — maybe even Mr Stern himself — would criticise them for publicly embarrassing their children by not spending as much as they could obviously afford to mark their special day.

No letter from Mr Stern would be complete without his tilting at the Reform windmill and this time he castigates them for (horror of horrors) allowing the celebration of a girl’s coming-of-age to be “held back for a whole year” to coincide with her twin brother’s barmitzvah.

But in most communities — certainly Orthodox ones — a boy attains barmitzvah on the day after his 13th birthday without the need for any ceremony or even shul attendance.

The same applies to a girl, who becomes batmitzvah the day after her 12th birthday.

Ceremonies, celebrations, parties, speeches and presents are modern, secular and optional extras with no prescribed time.

In any case, Mr Stern must surely be aware that delaying festivities is commonplace in Orthodox communities if the bar or batmitzvah falls during the counting of the Omer, when hearing music is forbidden, while for a family of more limited means — or in cases when guests travel from afar — it would surely make sense to hold a single party for two siblings rather than two separate ones.

Herbert Goldberg,
54 Wakehams Hill,
Pinner,
Middlesex.

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