Bar Mitzvah Vs. Playoffs

Updated on March 11, 2011
J.S. asks from Boston, MA
15 answers

Hi moms - my oldest son had been invited to a friend's Bar Mitzvah that's three weekends away. We already RSVP'd that he's going. It's from 7-11 PM and will be small compared with other Bar/Bat Mitzvah's that he's gone to this year. While some of the other parties literally had dozens and dozens of kids, this party is for family and the boy's close friends so a change in the guest list would be noticeable.

The problem is that we just got the playoff schedule for his main hockey team and - you guessed it - there's a game that night, at 7:50 PM. It's 45 minutes away so if he plays, he can't go the beginning of the party and if he goes after, he won't get there until almost 10 PM. Normally I would say that important milestones in our friends' lives preside over sports and that he will have to skip the game. If this were a regular game there would be no question. However, there is another boy on his team who is also invited to the Bar Mitzvah and if they both skip the game, the team will be at a disadvantage. The other boy is the second-highest scorer on the team and my son is one of the top defensemen. This team is a recreational team and it's not like they're playing for a state championship or anything, but this is a c-level team (the lowest level) and most of these kids have never been on a winning team in their lives. They are looking really good going into the playoffs and could very well win their division - I don't want the absence of the two boys to jeopardize all of the hard work that the coaches and players have put in all year.

So, the other player's mom and I are trying to figure out what to do. The boy who is the guest if honor is an athlete and his whole family is into sports, so I think that they would "get it" if we explained the situation and had the boys come late. The family is very low-key about this and while it's of course a special day, they're not going over the top with the celebration of it so I don't think they'd be terribly hurt or offended if the boys got there very late.

What do you think? What would you do?

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answers from Chicago on

My daughter played a lot of softball when she was in high school, so I'm basing my answer on how we dealt with similar issues.

Most definitely he should go to his game. It's playoffs and he is part of the team. It isn't HIS party, it's his friend's. It's not even a family member.

In my opinion, if you're part of a team sport you don't miss games unless you absolutely, positively cannot be there. If everybody could miss for anything they wanted to, there wouldn't be much of a team.

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answers from Dallas on

I think when you sign up for a team you have made a commitment to the coach, the other players, and to yourself.
If it were me, I'd expect my son to honor his 1st commitment. I would call the Bar MItzvah boys mother and explain the situation and give her the option as to whether she still wants the boys to show up or if that would be too late. Either way, I would send a great gift!

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answers from Chicago on

I am sorry but you RSVP'd ... you are obligated to go they have paid for your food/party supplies/activites so you go to the event.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from La Crosse on

With a team sport like hockey...your decision affects not only your son and his friend, but the entire team. I would definately explain to the other mom...and your son should go to the game, and arrive at the Bar Mitzvah late...10 pm is late, but I think just the fact that you are willing to rush him away from his team to attend both will be appreciated.

If it was a sport where only your son was impacted like swimming or speed skating I would say you could skip it...but you have a whole team of boys (c level or not) that are counting on their teammates to be there win or lose.

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answers from Boston on

Just want to put another voice out there - even though the party might not be a "big fancy deal" a Bar Mitzvah is very important. If you had RSVP'ed for a wedding, what would you do? I know that he's only 13, but the significance of the event is much more like a wedding.

I remember when graduating from HS, a boy I had been in school with for a long time signed my yearbook "Thanks for being one of the only girls to come to my Bar Mitzvah." It's important. People remember. I know that hockey is important too. I guess I would just say that you have to make the right choice for _your son_ and the other family will make the right choice for their son, and hopefully the team will be okay.

Good luck.

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answers from Charlotte on


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cumberland on

Talk to the Mom-she'll understand.

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answers from Providence on

I am a mother of four avid sports players but I think the Bar Mitzvah should take priority over sports. Missing even a playoff game is not going to make or break a child's sporting career or chances of major league success. As a culture we put too much emphasis on childrens' sports overall and let it monopolize our lives. I struggle with that all the time! This just didn't happen when we were their ages. As parents we need to put priorities in place to teach our children what we believe is important...that is what you need to decide and then act accordingly. What message do you want to teach your child? in my experience the disappointment is usually brief once doing the other thing. Did you ask the coach if the team could have an earlier time slot?
Good luck. Not an easy dilemma!

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answers from Boston on

hi there--

i don't know if this is the case, but is the bar mitzvah ceremony taking place in the morning and the evening is "just" the party? i've been to a TON of bar/bat mitzvahs, and often the religious ceremony of actually becoming a bar mitzvah happens during sabbath services. the saturday night party is a relatively new phenomenon to appease the kids who have to prepare for a big event in front of everyone they know during one of the most awkward moments in puberty :). maybe you can talk to the mom and see if there is another part of the bar mitzvah experience your son can attend? or, there might be a whole weekend planned with out-of-town guests-- maybe your son can go to a sunday brunch?

just a thought. good luck!



answers from New York on

Skip the party and go to the game.
If your son's team wins this big game it is something that he will remember and be proud about forever, if he goes to this party, he will forget about it in a week and just be miserable the whole time he is there!


answers from Boston on

You have a dilemma, that's for sure. I hope you are involving your son in the discussion of obligations, friends, feelings, commitments, etc.

That said, I have to say that the most important part of the bar mitzvah ceremony is the SERVICE at which the young person becomes an adult in the eyes of the Jewish community, taking on the responsibilities and obligations in the synagogue and in the Jewish community. I hope that you and your son will attend this to support the friend. Every service is open to the public - synagogue members and everyone else.

The party is a celebration but is almost entirely secular. Sometimes there is a blessing, and a candle-lighting ceremony that honors family & close friends and makes references to the study & preparation, but that's it. I think you need to be sensitive to the mother giving numbers to the caterer, and you should consider arriving late but making it clear that your son will not eat the dinner (which will be over) but will just come late to help celebrate IF THAT'S OKAY WITH HER. Your son should participate in selecting an appropriate gift as well, in honor of the friend's significant milestone.

I think it is GREAT that the family is not going overboard with the celebration - it sounds like they have their priorities in the right order, and that their emphasis is on the religious aspect and the Shabbat service. I sincerely hope that both boys on the team and their parents will attend the service to witness the achievement and honor, and show that they are not just in it for the party.



answers from Boston on

Just send them late. Like you mentioned talk with the parents first to explain, I'm betting they'll understand. You are being polite to let them know ahead rather than just getting the boys there so late. This game IS a special circumstance - they made it to the playoffs, AND there are 2 boys that would be missing from the team. I'm sure you'll stress to the boys to move their butts after the game so they can get as much time at the party with their friend as poss. They can do both - Life gives you lemons - make lemonade!



answers from Salt Lake City on

If the boys mom understands sports just talk to her. Tell her your boys will be late but you will make sure they dont miss it. I am sure another sports mom will understand.



answers from Redding on

Well, there are a couple of things to point out. You RSVP'd. So, if you intend to change anything about attending, you need to contact the mother right away. Bar Mitzvahs take a lot of planning and there is much more importance to them than just being a party.

It sounds like you have your mind made up about what is more important to your son so I think you'll just have to express it as gently as possible and try to get your son there as soon as possible to at least show support for his friend and bring a nice gift.
I just wouldn't wait any longer. Contact the mom right away to give her a head's up.
People can't be in too places at once. That's a fact of life.
If it was me, since you did ask, I would want my children to know the importance of honoring a commitment as opposed to backing out for the possibility of something else happening.
If it WAS for a state championship or qualifying for the olympics or something, it might be different.
It's a dilemma.
It's my guess the mom will tell you to do what's important to your son.
Put yourself in her shoes before you decide.
How would you feel if this was something important you YOUR son and his friend had to back out or arrive late?

I hope it all works out for the best.



answers from Seattle on

I'd be absolutely torn as well.

Is there anyway you could call the mom (explaining the situation) and see if the two boys could take her son out to lunch/ do something special with him in the afternoon?

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