Photo by Ricky’s dad.
I don’t have very fond memories of Bar Mitzvahs. When I had my ceremonial reading of the Torah (bible) in synagogue, I freaked out and completely lost my voice. Ten years later, at my younger brother’s Bar Mitzvah party, I lost hold of him during a traditional dance manoeuvre (a more complicated variation on the “whizzy”) and he landed on his head and was knocked unconscious. I spent the rest of the party with him at the Royal Children’s Hospital while everyone else stayed at the function centre at $100 a head.
Every weekend in Australia, around thirteen Jewish boys turn thirteen and have a Bar Mitzvah. I went to what I guess was a pretty cool one last week and caught up with the Barmi boy, Ricky, to see how he went.
Vice: So how did you go with your reading?
Ricky: The Rabbi at the end said that I was one of the calmest Bar Mitzvah boys he’s ever seen.
What was your secret? Were you imagining everyone in the synagogue with their clothes off?
No, I tried not to make too much eye contact with people, except with my parents. I do public speaking at school and I’m pretty good at that.
How was the party?
It was great. I got stressed out at one bit. We had a TV showing on a big wall in one of the rooms. It was a comedy by Mel Brooks, To Be Or Not To Be, and they were making fun of Hitler and there were all these people dressed as Nazis. But people at the party were like “turn it off!” All the old Jewish holocaust survivors had left already luckily.
What was the best part?
The shot of vodka.
Was that your first one?
It was my second. I had one at my cousin’s Bar Mitzvah a few weeks before. There was vodka on the table, and my auntie, who was pretty drunk, was like “drink drink drink” and I was like “OK, and I’m gonna have another one at my Bar Mitzvah”. I didn’t want to do it in front of mum so I took it upstairs to where my friends were. My head hurt after that. And my friends were trying to steal alcohol from the tables. Some of them did.
So do you feel like a man?