The 40 Year Old Bat Mitzvah

For Those Who Mourn

Posted in rituals by Juliet on March 17, 2010

It sounds like a bad Jewish joke that Scott actually planned to attend a Jewish funeral scheduled for 10 a.m. and be back at the office for an appointment at 12:30.

For a funeral in Los Angeles.

An hour and a half from his office in Riverside.

“Just the funeral,” he said. “I’m not going back to the house afterward.” He looked baffled that I was baffled.

“It’s a Jewish funeral,” he said. “What’ll it be, 20 minutes, maybe 30?”

The funny thing is, people always seem to think either one of two things about Jewish funerals. They are very long, or very short.

Maybe it’s the Hebrew…all those yit’gadals and yit’kaddashes (which actually is a mix of Hebrew plus Aramaic, the language of the people living in Babylonia at the time it came into usage.) Or maybe it’s the fact that Jewish funerals tend to be heavier on prayer than on eulogies or reminiscences of the person who has died.

In fact, Jewish funerals are like Jewish weddings: shorter on average (often MUCH shorter) than other religious funerals. Ever been to a Catholic funeral mass, for instance? There’s a reason that by the age of three most Catholic kids can sit still and behave for two solid hours with only hard candies for entertainment.

My uncle came back from a wedding and gave this pithy positive review: “Open bar, Jewish (i.e. short) ceremony.”

You know what’s just as long as everyone thinks, though? Bar and bat mitzvahs.

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