Yippee, you got your first choice of bar or bat mitzvah date! But so did another family at your synagogue.
Concerned about how this will work? No problem. Here are seven ways to ensure the bimah buddy experience goes smoothly:
Meet with the other family. Maybe you know the other family already, and maybe you don’t. Either way, it’s a good idea to establish friendly relations from the beginning. Get to know a little about the parents and all their kids. You don’t want to be strangers on the big day.
Tip: Like a first date, meet for a quick bite (frozen yogurt or bagels) rather than commit to a long meal. If you hit it off, you can make another date to meet up socially.
Team up teens. Encourage your teens to at least become friendly acquaintances. It’ll make the big day less nerve-racking to know they have each other’s back.
Maybe they can support each other’s mitzvah project or, better yet, complete one together. Remind them to acknowledge each other (if appropriate at your synagogue) when they speak from the pulpit. (Example: “Jamie, it was an honor to share this day with you.”)
Share plans. Are you both planning evening functions? Who wants the synagogue for Shabbat dinner? Talk about your proposed schedules to eliminate confusion when you start making venue arrangements and reviewing synagogue fees.
Also, talk about the number of guests you’re each expecting so that you can make fair arrangements for oneg Shabbat and Kiddush luncheon, and ensure there’ll be enough kippot and service programs.
Talk Hebrew. Your kids may be at different levels of Hebrew proficiency. Does one want to do more prayers and the other doesn’t? Talk about it and know that it isn’t a competition. Your family and friends are there to support your mitzvah kid; no one’s comparing them.
Cash in on collaboration. There is strength in numbers. Use the pairing to your benefit. Can you save on shipping costs by ordering kippot together? Can you negotiate a better rate by choosing the same hotel for your out-of-town guests, doubling the room block?
Meet in the middle. Compromises will likely need to be made, so go into this venture with flexibility. Make sure you’re prepared to make the case for things vital to your family, but be willing to bend on elements that are more important to the other family.
Make time for mazel tov. Remember that you’re part of the same community, and kvell with your bimah buddies for a moment after the service. Appreciate that you’ve just fulfilled a mitzvah by witnessing another young boy or girl complete a bar or bat mitzvah service.
Mazel tov all around.