Software review: New software takes tsuris out of bnai mitzvah planning

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It's a week before your daughter's bat mitzvah and you're frantically trying to wrap up the preparations. You're composing the program for the service, but unfortunately can't complete the document because you're so frazzled that you've forgotten the names of certain participants in the ceremony. Help!

With the B'nai Mitzvah for Windows software, keeping track of such details is a snap.

This new software program (Version 5.0) for Windows-based computer users offers a number of useful features designed to help you organize virtually all aspects of planning and implementing a bar or bat mitzvah.

Very often, more than a year goes into the planning of this major Jewish family event. B'nai Mitzvah for Windows helps you manage vital information from the moment you begin.

When you launch the program it asks you to log the date of the upcoming event into a built-in calendar. The calendar also keeps reminding you when items on the To Do list need attention. The To Do list lets you write short narratives (up to 1,000 characters) about important tasks coming up.

The software helps you track basic guest information including address, gifts and aliyah, and even allows you to import mailing lists from ASCII and dBASE files you may already have created.

When preparing your guest list, the software allows you to select whether someone is likely to actually come to the event. This feature provides you with added flexibility in estimating the need for food, tables and chairs, as well as planning the costs of entertainment and other necessities. The alphabetical list includes a running total of both adults and children. This can prove useful to caterers who charge less for children than for adults.

The Gift List includes one column for gifts and another for money, a feature that can help immensely when it comes to writing thank-you notes. Another unique and particularly useful feature is the Thank You report. The program lists the gifts and tells whether or not a thank-you card has been sent. Tired of nudging their children to send written acknowledgments to all the generous friends and relatives, parents need only print out the list and hand it to the young b'nai mitzvah. No more verbal reminders or battles over who has or hasn't been thanked.

One problem with this software program is that its valuable features have been formatted specifically for the b'nai mitzvah planning process. Those planning other simchas such as weddings, brit milah or even simple Chanukah parties can modify the use of this product to fit their needs.

B'nai Mitzvah for Windows — available from Castle Computer Technologies at (516) 331-6300 — costs $29.95 plus $3.50 for shipping. It is stocked locally by L'Chaim Gifts in Danville and Alef Bet Judaica on the Peninsula. A demo version can be downloaded from America Online. Internet users can find the Castle Computer Technologies web page at: http:// ourworld.compuserve. com/home pages/emj. Send e-mail inquiries to: [email protected].