Is Sam Horowitz' Bar Mitzvah Dance Video Kosher?

Sam Horowitz performed a dance at the Omni Hotel in Dallas to celebrate his bar mitzvah. Sam danced on stage in November 2012 with eight (visibly taller) women dancers in a number that lasted less than three minutes where he appears on stage about halfway through. As of 8/18/2013 the video has received 726,000 views on YouTube.

I think that yes, the video is kosher and an appropriate way to mark the coming of age of a young man. It is a cute and sweet and entirely wholesome performance. I assume that Sam likes to dance. He does it well. And now that he is 13 he chose to descend to the stage to enter and dance with the women in an innocent and shy way.

Some rabbis disapprove of the ostentatiousness, the cost and what they perceive of as the inappropriateness of the event. David Wolpe wrote (ranted) in the Washington Post, "The egregious, licentious and thoroughly awful video that is circulating ‘celebrating’ a Bar Mitzvah contains so much that is offensive that it requires restraint to hold oneself to three ways in which this display slaughters the spirit..." I guess I saw a different video - one that elevated my spirit.

For the record, the bar mitzvah is a rite of passage ritual that began in medieval times and has been associated with calling a boy to receive an aliyah to the Torah at his thirteenth birthday. To the rabbis who innovated that ritual that was an appropriate way to mark the coming of age of young boy. The rite presumes that an aliyah to the Torah has positive meaning in a community and that a young boy will appreciate an aliyah as a symbolic way to mark his turning into an "adult". That may be the case.

Yet, I have attended synagogues in which aliyahs are granted in a less than wholesome and equitable way to wealthy donors and to the favorites and cronies of the rabbis and gabbais. And I have seen many bar mitzvah boys endure the requirements of an aliyah performance as an anxiety ridden ordeal, rather than a pleasant ritual.

In his dance, Sam looks to me happy and full of positive expression. I deem what he did to celebrate, a proper and kosher expression of his coming of age. Mazal tov Sam!

1 comment:

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