At the many bar and bat mitzvahs that I have attended over the years—especially those in recent years—the constant use of cellphones by teenagers during the services and throughout the parties that follow has, in my opinion, become increasingly excessive and inappropriate.
When my own daughter’s bat mitzvah came around, I hesitantly decided to put together an email to the parents of my daughter’s friends who would be attending the bat mitzvah. As it turned out, my daughter was actually in favor of the idea when I showed her.
Included in this brief email of mine were bullet points about drop off/pick up, a few other miscellaneous things for the families to know, and the following words regarding the kids’ cellphones:
“If your child is planning on bringing a cellphone to my daughter’s bat mitzvah, we would appreciate you discussing the following with him or her:
Cellphones must be turned off when entering the sanctuary, and they must remain off for the entire service.
We understand that your children will probably want to take some photos or selfies during the party … and we encourage that. However, we are hoping that other cellphone/texting/social media use will be at a minimum. (It’s hard to be present and enjoy such a super fun party if you are all glued to a phone!)”
When the party was over, our DJ came up to me and told me that he had never seen such a well-behaved, engaged group of kids at a party … and he couldn’t believe that they were barely on their phones the whole time!
As it turns out, it seems that suggesting a clear expectation to a group of teens up front might possibly be worth it after all.
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