Bar and bat mitzvah planning made easy Party professionals offer help with rite of passage

February 03, 1997|By Ginger Thompson | Ginger Thompson,SUN STAFF

An article in Monday's editions incorrectly stated that Bat Mitzvahs are generally held for girls after their 12th birthday. While that is the case for the Orthodox, the Bat Mitzvah for girls in the Conservative and Reform movements is held after the 13th birthday.

The Sun regrets the errors.

Baseball was not the talk yesterday among the dozens of Jewish parents and pre-teen-agers who gathered at Camden Yards. They came for advice and ideas about ways to celebrate bar and bat mitzvahs, the most significant religious rites of passage for Jewish children.

It is also, as demonstrated by yesterday's event, an increasingly expensive occasion for Jewish parents. Bar and bat mitzvah costs generally range from $4,000 to $15,000. And parents struggle to make the occasion meaningful for their children, as well as fun.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

Bar mitzvahs, held for boys after their 13th birthday, and bat mitzvahs, for girls at age 12, mark the point in their lives when they are held accountable for fulfilling Jewish law. The event is marked by a ceremony at the family synagogue. At the bar mitzvah, boys are called to read a portion of the Torah. Bat mitzvah customs vary. Afterward, family and friends gather for a big party.

Yesterday's event, sponsored by Aramark, the concessions agency for Oriole Park at Camden Yards, focused on ideas for the party.

Some 40 event coordinators, florists, balloon artists and photographers converted a stadium banquet room into a party wonderland. It featured 4-foot ballerinas made of pressed board, a fabric snow woman, a balloon sculpture of the Oriole bird, and roaming musicians.

"I like the snowmen," said Jennifer Bernstein, 11. "Since my bat mitzvah is going to be this summer, I thought it would be fun to have a winter wonderland theme."

Bennett Ostroff, 11, of Reisterstown said his bar mitzvah is two years away. "I want to have a sports theme," he said.

Meanwhile, numbers added up in their parents' heads. An elegant bat mitzvah dress displayed at yesterday's seminar cost $225. Photographers offered their services for $1,500. Catering starts at $15 per guest.

Bennett's father, Marvin Ostroff, hopes he can keep the cost of the bar mitzvah on "the low end," about $8,000.

Jennifer's family plans to have the party in their back yard. Instead of spending money on a banquet hall and fresh flowers, they plan to travel to Israel.

"Our plan is to have Jennifer bat mitzvahed in Israel," said Stacey Bernstein, Jennifer's mother. "We want this to be a really meaningful time for her."

Pub Date: 2/03/97

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