Someone Else’s Simcha |

Aviah Cohen’s Bat Mitzvah: 'Wave Your Hands in the Air and Shriek!'

For one night, a newly minted young adult turns the industrial zone of an Israeli bedroom suburb into an explosion of giddy happiness and MTV hits.

Ron Ben-Tovim
Ron Ben-Tovim
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Ron Ben-Tovim
Ron Ben-Tovim

Location: The Bit party club

Time: 8 P.M.

In the neighborhood: Night descends on the concrete island that is Modi’in’s industrial zone, meticulously laid out with supersized commercial blocks, giant supermarkets and situated a few kilometers from the community’s residential areas. In the belly of one such monolith of commerce, a vast parking garage supported by immense concrete pillars pulses with distant music and the faint hint of high-pitched laughter.

Venue: Tucked away in a corner is a small door that leads visitors from a sea of gray into an explosion of color and sound. Despite its compact dimensions the small, dark club is nonetheless jam-packed with strobe lights, formidable speakers, laser beams, a lounge area and a bar stacked with salty snacks and cherry slushies. Above the bar, two balloons in the shape of the number 12 hover silently above, trembling with the bass, shifting in the cool air-conditioned air.

Simcha: Aviah Cohen’s bat mitzvah

Number of guests: 85

A brief history of time: Aviah, 12, is the youngest child of Dror, 47, a member of Israel’s sizable high-tech community, and Lauren, 47 (“almost”). Lauren, herself a one-time high-tech worker, switched careers a few years back, choosing to turn her part-time volunteer work with pregnant women into a full-time job. According to Lauren, it was a choice long in the making, one born following a close brush with a terror attack on a Jerusalem bus during her first pregnancy in 1993, and coming into fruition after being fired from her high-tech job three years ago. The family lives in Modi’in, together with Aviah’s siblings Advah, 20, and Yotam, 14.

Do the Mitzvah!: Bat/Bar mitzvahs have undergone something of an evolution in the Cohen family. Lauren herself, the daughter of hardworking American immigrants to Israel, was only able to have a small party at home that, as she remembers, ended much too early. (“They had to go back to work. I just remember being disappointed.”)

With her own children, the celebrations got a little better. Lauren: “We give them a choice: either a trip abroad or a party.” Aviah was the only one of the three to forgo foreign travel.

Rites: Standing on the official border between the suburban calm outside and the prepubescent mayhem inside, Aviah, in a white dress and sporting a slender tiara in her long blond hair, greets incoming guests. As super-current pop hits blast in the background, a seeming endless flux of young girls rushes insides, hugging Aviah from every direction and uttering what will be the signature sound of the happy evening, one rising higher and stronger than any MTV hit: the celebratory shriek.

Aviah's 'look book.' The latest thing for bat mitzvah girls.
Welcome to The Bit.
The evening's signature sound, the celebratory shriek.
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Aviah's 'look book.' The latest thing for bat mitzvah girls.Credit: Gil Cohen Magen
1 of 7 |
Credit: Gil Cohen Magen
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The evening's signature sound, the celebratory shriek.Credit: Gil Cohen Magen
Aviah Cohen's Bat Mitzvah

Next to the very happy welcoming scene, a few friends go through a photo album. Designed to look like a teen magazine (“Twelve”), it includes images of the bat mitzvah girl at what look like modeling and advertising photo shoots. (Lauren: “It’s the custom these days”). A chocolate fountain slushes silently nearby.

Further inside, the boys, who are a definite minority tonight, steer away from the giddy introductions, focusing their efforts on horsing around and using the many attractions spread around the dance floor, including air hockey, foosball and the mandatory video games. Party lights paint trippy galaxies on the concrete ceiling.

Once everyone has arrived, Aviah goes outside, where workers are laying down a red carpet. The emcee announces Aviah’s entrance, with a flourish of music. As the bat mitzvah gal walks in, smiling widely, sparklers suddenly explode, sending the already shrieking crowd into the shrieking stratosphere.

Following the new-old arrival to the dance floor, the happy group arrives at the cleared dance floor, proceeding to scream and shout all the lyrics to their favorite pop songs. A worker sweeps away the confetti.

To the side, a young man standing in what looks like a miniature food stand stoically manufactures fresh curly fries, as swarms of kids - and even Dror - wait in line. (Dror, smiling: “It’s pretty good.”)

Just as the dancing reaches fever pitch, with music, lights and the smell of frying potatoes blending into a heady mix, a break is called and pizza is handed out.

As the dance-floor princes and princesses sit on sofas set against the walls, silently eating and taking selfies with their iPhones, their feet dangling slightly, they look, for a moment, like kids.

That is, until the music cranks back up and the dancing and cake-eating kicks back into gear.

Music: Dance pop.

Food: Snack foods, curly fries, pizza and an elaborate birthday cake, made by Lauren.

Drink: Soft drinks and slushies.

Word in the ear: Lauren, on celebrating a 21st-century bat mitzvah: “Aviah was at the salon already at noon to get her hair done, and then there’s the dress. Thank God she didn’t ask for a professional makeup artist.”

In my spiritual doggy bag: That what used to be a rite of passage is in reality a party for people resembling kids who seem more like adults.

Random quote: Two boys, greedily grasping their slushies: “You know, these usually cost three shekels!”

Want to take part in Someone Else’s Simcha? Want to invite Haaretz to your family celebration? Send word to: HaaretzSimcha@gmail.com

The star of the party.Credit: Gil Cohen Magen

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