Virtual Bat Mitzvah During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Virtual Bat Mitzvah During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted by EVENTS 4 LIFE on Jun 22 2020, 10:23 AM

Recently, we planned our first virtual Bat Mitzvah ceremony. Given the current unprecedented circumstances, children, unfortunately, cannot celebrate their special occasions in the most traditional or conventional ways. New social limitations, however, invite a higher level of creativity that we must adopt. We were very skeptical about transitioning to planning a ceremony virtually, but in our heart, we wanted to make this a memorable and special event, no different than any past Events-4Life celebrations. We wanted to take on the challenge.

Our goal was to ensure Yvonne received the experience that she deserved as a 12-year-old in Judaism. We called Yvonne's father; he was thrilled to meet and listen to the alternative options we had to offer. Next, we contacted all the vendors in order to brainstorm creative ideas and solutions. Purchasing supplies in person or online was nearly impossible. Another challenge was to find a solution for the many personalized Kippahs that was originally ordered for the in-person celebration. We ultimately came up with the idea of creating Yvonne's Hebrew name out of it. The name in English was ideal for creating out of wood, but we did not have enough time to order it, so we created her name out of foam board and shiny silver vinyl.

Our team partnered with Ana, a florist from Distinctive Design, who volunteered to create a beautiful blue and white flower arrangement for the main table. Events-4Life also collaborated with Michelle Shriki and Eugenia Art, make-up and hair artists, who went above and beyond and even started working at 5 AM on the day of the Bat Mitzvah ceremony.

On the day of the ceremony, I was able to watch Yvonne perform and see the smile on her face as over 100 people participated through Zoom and 10 different countries. During her Alia la Torah (the stage when a person reads from the Old Testament scrolls in a Jewish ceremony), light rays stroke her face. This was a picture that was worth a thousand words. She was not at the synagogue, but God's presence was truly felt. Observing the ceremony and Yvonne's unique experience gave me affirmation that we had achieved a goal. Although this experience was new, challenging, and time-consuming, it was very well worth it, as every child deserves to celebrate their milestones in a special way. We all worked as a team, taking into consideration social distancing, using masks, and making everyone feel comfortable and safe, as suggested by CDC guidelines.

We are sharing our story with you in order to encourage you to continue planning your events. As an event planner, my role is to re-invent the industry and educate clients under these new circumstances. The celebrations will be smaller in scale, but they will still be emotional and special. Everything is possible, just in a different way.

In order to provide you with an idea of the details that were taking into consideration in the COVID-19 circumstance, the following summary lists some of the challenges we faced when we put the ceremony together.

  • Setting: The ceremony itself ran on Thursday at 7 AM through Zoom with the Rabbi and the audience that participated from several different time zones. To "feel" the audience's presence, we broadcasted a large screen.
  • Decorations: Even if your event is virtual, do not underestimate the power of decorations. To preserve festive ambiance, we brought a royal blue backdrop from our inventory to display behind Yvonne, which also matched the color theme of the event. We planned on having dot garlands and her name hanging on it as well. As a final touch, we surprised Yvonne right after the ceremony with confetti poppers. This was a pleasant surprise to many of the guests who reacted to this touch.
  • Supplies: After searching in many online stores, including Etsy and Amazon, we realized we wouldn't be able to get the supplies delivered to us on time. This was extremely challenging. We ended up purchasing the supplies, and together with my assistant Carola Chavez and her sewing-machine, we created the garland. It wasn't the traditional simple purchase that can take 15-30 minutes. It took us several hours.
  • Kippot: My clients ordered a personalized Kippot for the ceremony at the synagogue. We wanted to do something with the Kippot, making it useful, so we came up with a creative idea of creating Yvonne's Hebrew name out of it. The name in English could be ideal for creating out of wood and ordering it, but we didn't have enough time, so I created her name out of foam board and shiny silver vinyl.
  • Florist: We were fortunate to have Ana from Distinctive Design gratefully volunteer to create a beautiful blue and white flower arrangement for the main table.
  • Make-up Artist: Michelle Shiriki amazingly collaborated on the day of, even waking up at 5:00 AM in the morning to help the mother and daughter look amazing.
  • Hairstylist: Eugenia Art also went above and beyond to collaborate with us the day of.
  • Food (catering): For breakfast, Yvonne had her favorite food, fruit skewers served on a grass bed, nicely decorated on a wooden box.
  • Something fun we incorporated: We surprised Yvonne right after the ceremony with confetti poppers. Even the guests were excited and surprised by the effect.

After the ceremony, Yvonne returned to her home studies. I really wanted to spoil her and continue her celebration. During the day she got two deliveries, her favorite drink- bubble tea, and a beautiful cake stand with cupcakes, cake pops, macaroons and much more. Her huge smile and happiness were truly satisfying and joyful. Although this experience was new, challenging, and time-consuming, it was very well worth it, as every child deserves to celebrate their milestones in a special way. We all worked as a team, taking into consideration all the restrictions, social distancing, using masks, and making sure everything was as clean as possible.

I am sharing my story with you in order to encourage other families to continue planning their kids' ceremonies. Don't hesitate, god-willing we can still celebrate our loved ones with a big party in the near future, and we can still be creative and put something fun together that can still be safe. On a personal level as an event planner, my role is to re-invent the industry and educate clients under these new circumstances. Everything is possible, but in a different way. It is complicated, and the celebrations will be smaller in scale, but they will still be emotional and special. We must go above and beyond; every child deserves it.


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