What's Hot in Mitzvah's? A Return to Faith and Mitzvahs for Senior Citizens

Bar and Bat Mitzvahs have come full circle, with many families opting for more modest events that respect the ritual's religious significance.

Short Hills, NJ, August 16, 2007 --(PR.com)-- The mitzvah is coming full circle among modern Jewish families. The ancient rite to celebrate a child’s passage into young adulthood has, in recent years, evolved into something of a coming out party for many teens, with some families hosting lavish weekend-long extravaganzas costing tens of thousands of dollars.

But the latest trend in Bar and Bat Mitzvahs is a return to the religious significance of the tradition, and parties that honor the rite’s spiritual aspects while still providing fun for all guests, says mitzvah expert Diane Carr, director of catering at Hilton Short Hills in Short Hills, NJ.

Mitzvahs have become big business for hotels and catering facilities in areas with large Jewish populations like the northeast. Carr estimates total spending on mitzvah parties in her region of Central Jersey alone tops $50,000. Smart properties learn to respond to the changing face of the mitzvah, which often echoes trends in other areas of American culture, she adds. “American culture in general has been experiencing renewed interest in religion, spirituality and family values,” Carr says. “We’re seeing that reflected in how families now want to celebrate their children’s bar and bat mitzvahs by choosing a more modest, less extravagant option, often a daytime mitzvah followed by a family luncheon versus an extravaganza.”

Renewed respect for the religious aspects of the celebration isn’t the only current trend in mitzvahs, however. Carr’s catering team has tracked several movements among the mitzvah set, including:

• Video invitations – where guests receive a DVD in the mail rather than a traditional paper invitation – are an exciting new trend. The hosts can use the video invitation to preview the party and let guests know what to expect – and what’s expected of them.

• Emphasis on ethnic foods incorporated into complete food and beverage presentations with healthier fare gaining popularity.

• Presentations are mimicking those found in trendy restaurants, with smaller, colorful geometric-shaped plates.

• Bold, bright colors, such as orange and aqua, are hot, and are showing up in table linens and centerpieces.

• Large floral centerpieces and candelabras are out, replaced by different sizes and shapes of vases clustered with candles. Often, each vase will hold a single stem, or just one kind of flower.

• No formal seating for the young adults at the party. Instead, rooms are being set as upscale lounges where food such as mini burgers and doughnuts can be passed around among guests.

• To save money, some families are teaming up, or one family may double up, and mitzvahing two or more children at once.

Perhaps the most fun mitzvah trend, however, may be the increasing popularity of B’not Mitzvahs. “In Jewish tradition, if you reach the age of 83 you’re allowed to have another mitzvah and throw a big, big party,” Carr says. “With more Americans living longer and staying healthy and active longer, we’re seeing more people celebrating their B’not Mitzvahs.”

Hilton Short Hills is an award-winning premier urban resort-style retreat, ideally situated at the center of New Jersey's corporate arena and directly across from the upscale Mall at Short Hills. The elegant sophisticated hotel features 304 graciously appointed rooms, including 37 deluxe suites, Executive Tower level accommodations and executive lounge. Guests enjoy premier all day-dining at The Terrace and The Patio Bar and Grill (offering seasonal outdoor poolside dining Memorial Day through Labor Day), and The Retreat Lobby Bar. The posh 15,800 square foot Spa at Short Hills & Salon offers an indoor heated pool, whirlpool, seasonal outdoor pool and fitness center. Business services are available in the Business Center. The urban resort also offers 12,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, including conference and executive suites, an Executive Boardroom and Grand Ballroom. An on-site garage with self and valet parking is available.

Within easy reach of Manhattan and Newark Liberty International Airport, the Hilton Short Hills is located at 41 JFK Parkway, Short Hills, NJ 07078-2708. For information or reservations, please call (973) 379-0100 or visit http://www.hiltonshorthills.com/ or http://www.hilton.com/.

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Evelyn Hall