imgresTradition is well so traditional.  I don’t consider myself a traditional person at all but there is something about traditions.  Traditions can be anything from making sure that you never change the Thanksgiving meal to making brisket every year at Rosh Hashanah to wearing the same shirt to the Jet game every Sunday.

Recently my niece had her bat mitzvah.  I did not have a bat mitzvah but for many reasons we decided that our children should each have one.  Watching each of them go through the process at 13 years was incredible.  Between all the homework, the friends, the sports, their day to day lives they also had to prepare and study to be a bat mitzvah.  There is something about the process that is empowering.

My brother talked about the tradition of Jews doing this for thousands of years and it really stuck with me.  It forces each 13 year old to learn how to speak and read Hebrew (essentially that was their only language thousands of years ago).  Then you have to get up in front of the entire community and prove that you can read and of course sing in Hebrew.

We are reformed Jews so our connection is more about who we are not so much about going to synagogue.  Yet as I get older and go to these events I do realize the importance of tradition.  Carrying that torch from generation to generation is important.  I am not sure that all three of our kids are thrilled that we “forced” them to do a bat/bar mitzvah but in hindsight I believe as they get older they will truly see the value.

As Teyve spoke and sang about it on Fiddler on the Roof….tradition also keeps rattling around my brain.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Erin

    Ben Franklin said something like community can be either invasive and energy-sapping, or heart-warming and revitalizing. It’s up to the individual to find the best balance for them.

    1. Gotham Gal

      I love that

  2. LE

    I had a bar mitzvah “back in the day” and I have to say it was a truly anxiety filled experience. It was a big affair and my parents had to invite everyone and anyone that they knew. That was the way it was done back then and apparently things haven’t changed.Here is an example of a bar mitzvah of today (I didn’t go to this one but I know the person who’s son is the boy). This was in the suburbs of Philly not NYC and doesn’t even hold a candle to what they do in NY Metro:Was also live streamed over the Internet:Edit: It starts to get interesting about 45 seconds in…

    1. JAJones

      Very similar to my 13th birthday party when we went bowling and swimming at the Catholic Youth Center in Scranton.

      1. Gotham Gal


  3. LE

    We are reformed Jews so our connection is more about who we are not so much about going to synagogue.We were conservative growing up. Never forget on Yom Kippur passing by the reform congregation and seeing they got out and got to break the fast hours earlier!

  4. Donna Brewington White

    It always surprises me how much the traditions mean to our kids. My husband grew up in a very traditional Southern family and he wanted to raise our kids with less structure. I grew up with little structure and traditions seem to need a certain amount of structure to be reinforced. Nevertheless we have a few traditions and I have discovered that our kids are very committed to maintaining them.A couple of years ago I decided to “cancel” Christmas Eve because my pre-teen and young teen sons were badly misbehaving and I was weary from the effort of solo parenting while my husband was occupied with running a huge Christmas Eve musical production that takes weeks of intense preparation. We only have a small Christmas Eve celebration because my husband comes home exhausted, and save the larger celebration for Christmas Day. What changed my mind was how distraught my young adult son — home during a college break — became at the prospect. Who knew?

    1. Gotham Gal

      it is all about tradition. changing the thanksgiving menu would go ballistic if i changed the stuffing.

  5. Sherry Abdou

    Growing up in the United States to a moderately traditional Muslim family was my normal. I struggled as a young adult with the thought of having to drape a scarf around my head and shoulders to kneel for prayer, wondering if God really cared one way or the other. I dropped the scarf and continued with my daily prayers, feeling freed from what felt restrictive.Years later my father fell ill and to my surprise, I felt a need to wrap my shoulders in a scarf during my prayers. It was not my conforming to rules but rather the connection to a practiced tradition brought me great comfort.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Age seems to connect back to those traditions we were raised on. It is amazing..

  6. pointsnfigures

    Tradition can be great, and also limits you depending on how you fit it into the culture. My extended family used to get together a lot and I miss that since those days are long gone. Traditions can be awesome right of passages (like a bar/bat mitzvah) that you should build into your startup to create culture and belonging for the business. Greek systems have tradition, the military has tradition, and successful companies usually have a tradition that instantaneously bonds one generation to another, and senior levels to junior levels.