Instant gratification: Social media and b’nai mitzvah parties


In the age of likes, shares and posts, social media has been embraced as a valuable platform of connectivity. Everyone is invited to the party to share political views, cat videos, baby pics, vacation pics — even babies-on-vacation pics. 

If you want engagement, then use social media — it’s a lesson that has been learned by political campaigns, television networks,
corporations and, yes, bar and bat mitzvah kids. 

“We get calls all the time with people saying, ‘We want this to be the party of the year,’ ” said Laurie Camacho, owner of Party Planners LA. These days, she told the Journal, that means pimping out b’nai mitzvah parties with help from Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and more. 

“Everything is, how custom can you get it? They want everything to be very customized so that it’s different from what guests would normally see,” Camacho said. 

One popular means of doing this now involves employing a photo booth where kids take selfies that can be uploaded to their Instagram or Facebook accounts, then projected on a live feed at the reception, Camacho said. 

The local party planner also has been commissioned to design customized logos that can be featured on Instagram posts, paperless invitations, Snapchat stories and geofilters, or just decor at the venue. The price tag on packages involving photo booths and customized logos Camacho offers starts at around $950 and can go up to nearly $4,000. 

“It’s a big thing right now — very trendy, for sure,” she said. 

Sheri Lapidus, a New York-based public relations executive who created the online resource mitzvahmarket.com in 2010 after planning her daughter’s bat mitzvah and failing to find adequate information, said another trend involves a social media twist on the tradition of sign-in books. Instead of a paper book, some kids now have an iPad or tablet with a stylus that guests can use to write messages that will be displayed on a projected live feed. It’s no longer a book with messages to be read later — it’s for everyone to see right then and there. 

“We had one at my daughter’s bat mitzvah in 2010. Now it has come much further,” Lapidus said. “The stylus boards are branded with logos sometimes. It’s all much more advanced now.”  

Ryan Kashanthi, 13, who attends Lincoln Middle School in Santa Monica, celebrated his bar mitzvah last month at Chabad of Bel Air. While he didn’t have a photo booth at his party, that didn’t stop people from posting their own pictures. He was delighted to see all the moments from his party that ended up on Instagram and Snapchat. 

“It was cool that people enjoyed my party so much that they’d want it to be something on their Instagram,” he said. “It kind of keeps the party going, too. There’s that lasting memory of it online.” 

Another bonus is that using social media can enable people not in attendance to partake, in a way. Family or friends who couldn’t make it can get a glimpse of the scene and feel included. 

That said, making the event public can potentially lead to hurt feelings, too, Kashanthi said. 

“The one downside that affects me the most is that when people see that they’re not invited, people can get offended,” he said. 

The impact of social media on a bar or bat mitzvah can go far beyond the big day itself. It can unite people to a cause. 

Just ask Lisa Kodimer, who started Good Deeds in Motion, a Calabasas-based company that creates customized projects to help people in the community find ways to give back, after the success of her older son Kole’s bar mitzvah project, a special needs baseball team called Westhills Champions.

“Kids want to give back but they don’t know how,” Kodimer said. “We help kids do something that’ll be more than just a one-day thing. Our hope is that they’ll hold onto it and this will become part of their passion as they grow older.”

According to Kodimer, who does a lot of work with bar and bat mitzvah projects, the power of social media and networking has broadened the scope of what kids can accomplish, particularly in the realm of fundraising. 

“We offer our client a webpage. There’s no hosting fee and kids have it for the rest of their lives. The webpage can connect to a kid’s Facebook. It really helps get the word out and creates an audience,” she said. 

Kodimer uses her own active social media presence to help recruit volunteers to causes born out of the minds of her bar and bat mitzvah clients. When one of her clients began teaming with a gym to start a special needs gymnastics program, a steady influx of volunteers came as a result of Kodimer’s social networking efforts. 

“We have gotten so many calls about teens who want to volunteer,” she said. “We’re able to fill most of that need through social networking. We utilize the Good Deeds in Motion webpage, my personal page, the social media page of the gym. It’s amazing.”

Kodimer’s younger son, Kamden, who celebrated his bar mitzvah in Jerusalem in December, has raised $1,500 so far for his bar mitzvah project, Cupcakes and Wishes, a series of pop-up cupcake sales whose proceeds benefit birthday celebrations for hospitalized children. Kam-den’s efforts have spurred others to contribute to the cause and help with cupcake sales of their own. He sees a bright future for his volunteer venture and figures social media can help. 

“We’re going to be starting an Instagram page to try to get more volunteers because that’s what more of the kids are using today,” the 13-year-old Hale Charter School student said. “I feel like it’ll really help a lot. We’re trying to go national, and that’s the best way to spread the
word.” 

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