Back at the bar with Walter Liebow’s Orchestra / De vuelta en el bar con la Orquesta de Walter Liebow

La versión en español está después de la versión en inglés.

I had such a good time with yesterday’s bar mitzvah photos that I thought I’d share a few more. The only other time I saw my father that jubilant for me was when I graduated from university. That, at least, was some sort of accomplishment. All the bar mitzvah meant was that I had turned 13. Still, it was a huge show and I had a good time being the center of attention.

It started Saturday morning with a reading at our synagogue. After I did my reading and the Saturday morning service ended, we all walked back to the co-op which was right across Ocean Parkway for what was called a Kiddush. My parents had rented one of the community rooms in the co-op and catered a luncheon. Those who were seriously orthodox wouldn’t drive or do work on the sabbath, so everyone could simply walk over and enjoy themselves (while others worked).

That night was the reception. My mother’s parents were orthodox and were staying with us. They thought we were orthodox, too, although we were not. So we pretended. Isn’t that a sin? The reception couldn’t begin until after sunset. No driving, no music, no dancing until then. So the photographer came to the apartment at sunset for family photos with my grandparents. Then my father drove us all to the catering hall in Borough Park, Brooklyn. Are you keeping up?

There was a cocktail hour downstairs and then everyone was ushered upstairs to a large reception hall. I can’t remember how many guests there were. Maybe 140? 200? There was a two-tiered dais for my friends and cousins. Once everyone was seated, Walter Liebow (the master of ceremonies) and His Orchestra welcomed the guests of honor. First grandparents, then Dale and The Kid Brother, and then me with my parents. My father had such an excited grip on my upper arm that he lifted me off my feet at times. Dale’s job was to carry the tallit (my brand new prayer shawl paid for by my grandfather), which I never wore after that day. I brought it to Goodwill in 2010 before we moved to Spain. The Kid Brother’s job was to carry the prayer book (I have no idea which one). We all worried he would storm out after seeing all the people, but he did really well. Until, that is, one of my parents’ friends, named Sheiky, yelled, “Yay Chucky!” That’s when the photographer snapped the photo. Dale was just about to turn to offer him words of encouragement. The kid made it to the finish line.

There was a sit-down dinner, of course, an open bar, and even a Viennese table (otherwise known as a dessert buffet). At this event, not one but two long tables were rolled out. My parents spared no expense.


Me lo pasé tan bien con las fotos del bar mitzvah de ayer que pensé en compartir algunas más. La única otra vez que vi a mi padre tan jubiloso por mí fue cuando me gradué de la universidad. Eso, al menos, era una especie de logro. Todo lo que significaba el bar mitzvah era que había cumplido 13 años. Aún así, fue un gran espectáculo y pasé un buen rato siendo el centro de atención.

Comenzó el sábado por la mañana con una lectura en nuestra sinagoga. Después de que hice mi lectura y terminó el servicio del sábado por la mañana, todos caminamos de regreso a la cooperativa que estaba justo al otro lado de Ocean Parkway para lo que se llamaba Kiddush. Mis padres habían alquilado una de las salas comunitarias de la cooperativa y habían preparado un almuerzo. Aquellos que eran seriamente ortodoxos no manejaban ni trabajaban en sábado, por lo que todos podían simplemente caminar y divertirse (mientras los demás trabajaban).

Esa noche fue la recepción. Los padres de mi madre eran ortodoxos y se estaban quedando con nosotros. También pensaban que éramos ortodoxos, aunque no éramos. Así que fingimos. ¿No es eso un pecado? La recepción no podía comenzar hasta después del atardecer. Sin conducir, sin música, sin bailar hasta entonces. Así que el fotógrafo vino al apartamento al atardecer para hacer fotos familiares con mis abuelos. Luego, mi padre nos llevó a todos a la sala de catering en Borough Park, Brooklyn. ¿Sigues el ritmo?

Hubo una hora de cóctel en la planta baja y luego todos fueron conducidos escaleras arriba a un gran salón de recepción. No recuerdo cuántos invitados había. ¿Quizás 140? ¿200? Había un estrado de dos niveles para mis amigos y primos. Una vez que todos estuvieron sentados, Walter Liebow (el maestro de ceremonias) y Su Orquesta dieron la bienvenida a los invitados de honor. Primero los abuelos, luego Dale y El Hermanito, y luego yo con mis padres. Mi padre me agarraba con tal entusiasmo la parte superior del brazo que a veces me levantaba del suelo. El trabajo de Dale era llevar el talit (mi nuevo manto de oración pagado por mi abuelo), que no volví a usar después de ese día. Lo traje a Goodwill en 2010 antes de mudarnos a España. El trabajo de El Hermanito era llevar el libro de oraciones (no tengo idea de cuál). A todos nos preocupaba que saliera furioso después de ver a toda la gente, pero lo hizo muy bien. Hasta que, claro, uno de los amigos de mis padres, llamado Sheiky, gritó: “¡Yay Chucky!” Fue entonces cuando el fotógrafo tomó la foto. Dale estaba a punto de girarse para ofrecerle palabras de aliento. El niño llegó a la meta.

Por supuesto, hubo una cena formal, un bar abierto e incluso una mesa vienesa (también conocida como buffet de postres). En este evento, se desplegaron dos mesas largas. Mis padres no repararon en gastos.

• My maternal grandparents.
• Mis abuelos maternos.
• My favorites. The Kid Brother at 7 and Dale at 15. The people in the background worked for and with my father. My mother commented after that gowns were expected on a Saturday night, not cocktail dresses.
• Mis favoritos. The Kid Brother a los 7 y Dale a los 15. Las personas en el fondo trabajaban para y con mi padre. Mi madre comentó después que los sábado por la noche se esperaban vestidos largos, no vestidos de cóctel.
• Sheiky is the guy to the left of my mother. For me, that was a good several months with my father.
Sheiky es el tipo a la izquierda de mi madre. Para mí, fueron unos buenos meses con mi padre.
• Grandpa slices the challah and blesses the meal. For some reason, I found it funny. Maybe because he was so serious.
• El abuelo corta la jalá y bendice la comida. Por alguna razón, lo encontré divertido. Tal vez porque él era tan serio.
• The dais.
• El estrado.
• My cousin Sheree is at far left. The Kid Brother joined me and my girlfriend of the moment on the dance floor (I was 13!!!). He was a wonder that night. Before any reception, Dale instructed me on how to be a back-up dancer. I was one of the Temptations that night. Seriously.
• Mi prima Sheree está en el extremo izquierdo. The Kid Brother se unió a mí y a mi novia del momento en la pista de baile (¡tenía 13 años!). Fue una maravilla esa noche. Antes de cualquier recepción, Dale me instruyó sobre cómo ser una bailarina de respaldo. Yo fui una de las tentaciones esa noche. En serio.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

26 thoughts on “Back at the bar with Walter Liebow’s Orchestra / De vuelta en el bar con la Orquesta de Walter Liebow”

  1. I love the last picture! Every kid should have such a party. I would not have been able to attend. I don’t have a gown or even a lowly cocktail dress.


    1. janiejunebug:
      No problem, you were supposed to purchase a NEW gown or cocktail dress for the event.

  2. What wonderful memories and experiences!
    Looks like everyone had a blast!
    That last photo is very touching.

    1. John:
      And now I can’t unsee it. I’m tempted to photoshop that red hair on top of her head.

    1. Bob:
      Another time, Dale taught me to be one of the Dave Clark 5. I can still stomp and clap my hands (in the background of course) to Glad All Over.

  3. Those pictures are a blast!!!!!!! I see a lot of your father in your looks now. He was very handsome. And I now see your point with some of the drag pictures I post and your comments about some of them looking like Aunt so and so!!!! They had boofont and do’s dear!!!!!

    1. Mistress Borghese:
      When I was in college I told a good, snarky friend that I knew I’d be good looking when I was older because of my father. She had the hots for him. She said, “Yeah, except he started off looking like that.” These women aren’t even the ones I’ve been talking about. I had a relative (on my father’s side) who was always hosting parties. HER friends looked like every over-the-top drag queen you’ve shared. Heavy makeup, huge false eyelashes. TONS of jewelry. And hair the size of Texas. Oh, and cigarette voices that made some of them sound like Harvey Fierstein.

  4. You can be my backup dancer any time. Temptations were the best! You were too cute for days I think. Breaking all the girls hearts, how could you?!

    1. Ron:
      Dale taught me to do the Dave Clarke 5’s moves to “Glad All Over.” Clap and Stomp, Clap and Stomp. I think I could still do it. Not so sure about the Temptations.

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