Real Celebration: Emet’s Meaningful Coming of Age Story

by Edna Rienzi   |   February 3, 2016

In the Real Celebrations series, SoKind asks registry users to share a bit about their celebrations. Read on for a collection of inspirational ideas as well as lessons learned!

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The Celebrant: Emet Hirsch, a 13-year old interested in computers, philosophy, math, and improving the world

The Event: Emet’s Bar Mitzvah, the celebration of his coming of age in the Jewish community

Location and Date: Beit Shmeul Jerusalem, Israel on December 24, 2015

In Sherre’s (Emet’s mother) Words: Our intention was for each person to feel as if they were celebrating with us even if they could not travel to join us for the event. We created a SoKind registry as a way for each person to share in this experience by enabling them to participate virtually in an activity or service that inspired or had personal meaning for them.

Meaningful Moment: What we really loved and did not expect was that people selected items on the registry that had meaning for them. For example, my cousin is a huge hiker and she loved being able to sponsor a hike to David’s Waterfall, as it felt personally significant to her. It gave us a new connection to her that we had not known previously. She will forever be our cousin Marla, the hiker.

Popular Gifts: In our tradition, it is customary to say a particular prayer for the deceased, the Kaddish, as a way to acknowledge those whom we have lost. On the registry, we gave people several options to donate in memory of someone in our family and it was by far the most popular gift. Then, at the ceremony, we named the donors before we said the prayer and it had a tremendous effect on everyone, both present and far.

Lessons Learned: We were hugely surprised by the ways in which people used SoKind to express themselves through their gifts. In the past, when we have asked only for donations, many people felt conflicted as it felt more like an obligation. But, with SoKind, people had an opportunity to not only choose how and what they wanted to give, but also to participate in the event in their own way.