The Destination Bar Mitzvah–Reconnecting and Maintaining Family Ties

If you haven’t been to an out-of-town Bar or Bat Mitzvah recently, you are missing an event-laden weekend chock-a-block with family, old friends, many meals and dogs.

Assuming you care about the boy or girl (and we did) you begin with the trip.hawaii and ship(Source:

No, our Bar Mitzvah was not in Hawaii. We set sail for Los Angeles, land of my bringing up and home of the 405 freeway that challenges the Long Island Expressway for the worst bumper to bumper traffic in the nation.

the 405(Source:

(After the initial thrill of getting into a car again–brief I promise you– returning to the subway system was a joy.)

First, there is the Friday Night Dinner, usually given by a family member or close friend. The food is excellent, you get to meet hitherto unknown great-nieces and nephews and, of course, the perfectly-behaved inimitable family dog, Oliver.

Halloween parade 022No, this is not Oliver; these are Lucky on the right (practically perfect in every way) and Nina, much-loved but somewhat imperfectly behaved. We were fortunate enough to have them adopt us and have enjoyed every minute (except when Nina ran down the hill and into the road in the country –a good Samaritan stopped her car and carried Nina back to me–Nina only gets to be off the leash in the enclosed dog park now).

You also get to re-meet friends from your childhood, much much older, of course, but still there and that is nice, especially when you remember their names. An elder brother comes in from his mountain which is good, because I have sworn never to take the hair-raising drive up the Rim-of-the-World Highway again.

rim of the world drive(Source: Some time Saturday, the service takes place, in this case, led by the Bar Mitzvah boy who not only learned his Hebrew portion but gave  his philosophical take on it–really kind of awesome for a 13-year old. As travelers from a far off land, we were given much appreciated honors which included Rory holding a very heavy warm velvet Torah for a half hour.

After the service is The Lunch, this time delivered by food trucks in a parking lot–a great idea for kids and adults alike and a welcome break from a sit-down lunch, though a bit sunny. (Los Angeles is always sunny, boringly sunny, except for golfers I presume).

food trucks 2food trucks 5After that, suffering from jet lag, we headed back to the hotel for R&R, declining the evening party as unbefitting our years and energy.

two exhausted pandas(Source:

Later we went across the street (by car naturally–this is LA, remember–don’t EVER try to cross Century Blvd on foot) to an unassuming excellent Mexican restaurant of which there are many in this city.

mexican foodThe next day we had reserved for a visit to a cousin we hadn’t seen in 48 years because of well, you know the story. As he lives in Palm Springs and we were in LA, we met in the middle at The Mission Inn in Riverside. (“In the middle” is a relative term here, meaning your typical Southern California drive of 1.5-2 hours).

MIssion Inn 1MI_Hotel_with_sky_2(Source:

The Mission-Gothic-style Inn dates from 1903 and is a little kitschy but still a lovely reminder of old California gone by.

mission inn insideMy cousin is well again after a health scare and we were glad to see each other and swap stories of our childhood–his mother’s fruit trees, my mother’s Passover dinners–with someone who still remembered.

I wanted to say something profound about the importance (and sometimes the effort) of cultivating new and tending old relationships but I think I’ll just mention that it felt good to re-see, to re-meet and to be re-membered. We are off to Plano, Texas, soon….



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