While the challenges of 2021 had many changing their b’nai mitzvah dates, Abram and his family were firm on keeping his. The Torah portion Behar had also been his dad’s, and it held too much significance for them to change it. With Temple Sinai unable to accommodate in-person events at that time, the family looked for an outdoor venue to host limited numbers of family and friends for Abram’s bar mitzvah.
Abram took his place on the bimah with the rabbis while his immediate family joined him in the sanctuary for his service. Guests attended virtually, with drawstring Zoom bags produced and sent by Paper Matters, which included a program, and logoed kippot and cookies bearing Abram’s logo by Mitzvah Memos. The family enjoyed seeing guests on screen wearing their kippot and following along in their programs.
For the celebration, originally to be held at their temple, Mom Melissa found a hidden gem of a venue in Dunwoody, Donaldson-Bannister Farm, part of the Dunwoody Preservation Trust. Its three acres of property include a permanent tented area, field, and courtyard. The venue enabled them to keep all the vendors they had previously booked and offered a lot of options for space. Planner Marci Miller crafted a plan that capitalized on the unique space for a casual tennis-themed celebration.
Abram’s love of tennis runs from playing the game to teaching it to others. As part of his mitzvah project, he assisted his own tennis coach with clinics for younger children who wanted to learn the game. There was no question that he’d have a tennis theme for his party. And the ability to host it at such a unique outdoor venue was ideal. “He had always wanted a daytime backyard affair,” Melissa noted. “He got the party he wanted!”
One hundred guests attended in shifts, with a relaxed vibe to the event. Atlanta Fever’s DJ Mello led different activities during the shifts, including a traditional hora and grand entrance, plus games and dance music. He also invited teens and adults to join him on the field for lawn games like cornhole, giant Connect Four, and ladder toss. “Mello was fantastic! He engaged with the kids however they wanted, and they had a blast,” Melissa said. The second half of the party featured more dancing as the afternoon went on and adults hit the dance floor.
C. Parks Catering served aces with a tennis-themed menu that featured fun dishes like backhand buttermilk chicken tenders, drop shot pretzel bites with honey mustard, and double fault dessert shooters (kiwi, key lime, and chocolate mousse) alongside tennis ball decorated cupcakes and cookies. The catering team also served a variety of savory and sweet treats as guests came and went. Batter also provided individual cookie dough desserts, which were well received. Melissa reported that all guests enjoyed the playful menu at the Southern style luncheon.
Marci’s event design and décor were a huge hit as well. Guests signed oversized tennis balls for Abram’s guestbook and tennis balls in gel bead-filled vases decorated tables under the tent. Abram’s logo on candle votives and tennis racket accents complemented yellow, green, and blue balloons and linens.
Ross Cohen of Cohen Photographic Arts attended the bar mitzvah rehearsal to take photos at the synagogue, and then also took pictures at the party, capturing the fun afternoon.
“Abram loved his party, and it was so wonderful to see our loved ones again. He was able to shine in leading services and be with his closest friends. It’s a memory he’ll always treasure,” Melissa said.
How did Atlanta Mitzvah Connection help?
I found every vendor through the EXPO except for the venue! I attended multiple EXPOs and did the virtual one as well. It was invaluable in my planning process.
Advice to Other Parents
“At the end of the day, it’s about your child. Center the special occasion on what he/she would like and enjoy the most. Also, listen to the professionals that you hire and take their suggestions. They’re in this business for a reason."
Get a Deal on some of Abram’s Vendors
Logo: Mitzvah Memos – 10% off logo design
Promotional Items and Kippot: Paper Matters – 20% off custom printed invitations
Venue: Donaldson-Bannister Farm
Photographer: Cohen Photographic Art
DJ: Atlanta Fever (Mello) - $350 off any package (Flush or above)
Catering: C. Parks Catering & Events
Event Planning: The Perfect Day! Event Planning - 12 free uplights with any event management packages
Décor: The Perfect Day! Event Planning
Dessert: Batter – 10% off catering orders
You have to order kippot well ahead of your Bar Mitzvah date, but may not know your RSVP count yet. Chances are you’re going to have leftovers. What do you do with yesterday’s yarmulkes, especially when they’re personalized?! We posed the question to our Facebook friends and got some fabulous ideas:
Most Atlanta families are welcoming non-Jewish family members and, at the very least, school and/or work friends who don’t know about much the Bar or Bat Mitzvah service. They may have never set foot in a synagogue before! Here’s are some of the best tips we’ve heard for welcoming and including non-Jews into the experience.