Carrie, my niece, is fascinated by astrology, palm reading, tarot cards and other types of divination. None of these are traditional for Jewish ceremonies, but for her Bat Mitzvah her parents found a way to combine both and make everyone happy.
Unlike a Bar Mitzvah, a Bat Mitzvah has no religious ceremony. The only two traditions found in a Bat Mitzvah are the Hamotze and the Candle Lighting Ceremony. These were performed according to Jewish tradition, but everything else had an air of mysticism.
I received a clever crystal ball shaped invitation. The Bat Mitzvah location, date and time were written beneath a thin waxy coating and had to be scratched like a lottery ticket to reveal it. Below the party information were the words. "Please be a part of the beginning of my future. I predict you will have lots of fun." How could I not go?
Carrie's parents rented a restaurant for six hours. They had called me a few weeks prior to the party to borrow some of my shawls and sashes. I found out what they had done with them when I entered the restaurant. Dozens of them were covering the walls. The place was transformed into a fortune teller's parlor. Each table had a candle inside a ball-shaped holder. Part of the dining room was cleared out to make room for a dance floor. Three booths were set up for the palm reader, tarot card reader and a clairvoyant psychic.
There was a pack of tarot cards and a book of magic tricks at each child's place setting. Each adult was given a certificate for a free one hour reading by one of the three fortune tellers.
By the time the adults arrived, most of the kids were dancing to music playing on the restaurant's stereo system. Some were getting readings from the fortune tellers.
Carrie didn't make a grand entrance. She startled us by suddenly appearing at the other end of the dance floor behind the podium and spoke through the microphone. She thanked everyone for coming and wished us to have a great time.
Everyone sat down so Carrie's grandfather could perform the Hamotze. Dinner was soup, salad and a sandwich chosen from a shortened version of the restaurant's standard menu. The meal was served with a nice kosher wine.
While the main courses were being prepared, the kids asked the clairvoyant psychic to tell them something about them or their future. She was very good and some of the things she knew even made some of the adults' jaws drop. She even made jokes and kept us entertained until our sandwiches arrived. The psychic told Carrie a boy with brown eyes at the party had a secret crush on her. The prediction was vague, but it made Carrie and several of the boys blush and perhaps gave the secret away. The photographer swooped in at the right moment and captured the moment.
After the meal, Carrie called up thirteen people to perform the Candle Lighting ceremony. Each of them made a prediction about Carrie's future as they lit their candle. Some were funny, but most were sweet and hoped of a happy, healthy future.
Carrie's parents thanked us all for coming and we spent the remainder of the evening dancing, chatting, or getting a reading from one of the fortune tellers. I got a reading from all three and had my picture taken with Carrie and her parents. It was funny how similar the readings were. I plan to save my certificate for a little while until I see if any of the predictions come true.