What if you could redo your Bar or Bat Mitzvah? On June 13th, at the New York reBar launch event, storytellers answered that question as they reflected with pride, humor, and nostalgia on their thirteen-year-old selves and considered what commitments they would make today. Emceed by The Year of Living Biblically-author A.J. Jacobs, the event featured storytelling performances by comedic writer and actor Kevin Allison, photographer and reBar co-founder Christopher Farber, comedian Jena Friedman, actress Vanessa Hidary, human rights activist Libby Lenkinski, and author Kate Scelsa.
Stories ranged from comedic tales of bar mitzvah envy and adult confirmation to poignant accounts of adolescence, sexual identity and social justice. One particularly impactful speaker was Vanessa Hidary who used spoken word to share her coming of age story with the audience. She spoke about how, being a New York City Jew, she did not fit in with her Long Island Jewish friends as well as she would’ve liked. Click here to watch some of her other spoken word talks.
While mingling over cocktails, attendees answered three questions on message boards:
Rewind: What did you value at 13?
Play: What’s important to you today?
Future: What will you commit to doing for yourself, your family and your community? There were a variety of responses that illustrated people’s journeys and what their priorities are now.
Responses varied greatly. When asked to rewind to 13, some people remembered that they valued Full House, hair products, boys and stickers. When asked about the now, a few responses were food, community, music and love. The future question prompted some people to say they hope to do yoga, unplug and help other people share their stories.
reBar offers a way for people to reconnect to their Jewish lives and think about what it means to be an adult. “The event was fun, entertaining and made me think of my own stories,” said Sarah, 29, one of the evening’s participants. “It was very informative, inventive and really interesting to hear how different each person’s experience was. reBar has made me think about continuing my own Jewish practice.” Another attendee, Michael, 33, said, “reBar has inspired me to reconnect with friends and family and explore my Jewish culture.”
Interested in reBaring? Visit reBar.org and reBar yourself, with your friends and family and with your community. It will be less awkward this time around.
Thank you to the UJA-Federation of New York for sponsoring the New York launch of reBar.