Bar mitzvah party at Stanford brings out the 13-year-old in everyone

When is a bar mitzvah not a bar mitzvah? When it’s actually a blowout party for 21-and-over college students — replete with a bar mitzvah DJ, people dancing the hora and even a chair lifting.

At this “bar mitzvah,” nowhere to be seen was an open Torah — but there was an open bar.

The inaugural “Bar Mitzvah Party” at Stanford on April 5 was attended by more than 300 students, according to Maor Shaffin, Hillel at Stanford’s graduate student and Israel program associate.

The event was at Hillel’s recently dedicated Koret Pavilion at the Harold and Libby Ziff Center for Jewish Life. It was hosted by the Stanford Jewish Law Students Association and sponsored by the Hillel Graduate Student and Young Adult Board.

The party started at 9 p.m. and raged until 1:30 a.m. In addition to doing traditional Jewish dances, people danced to “YMCA” and the Macarena, and played Pepsi/7-Up (a popular bar mitzvah game involving partners and running). There were also glow sticks and inflatable music instruments.

The idea was to transport people back to a time in their life when they were 13. “Remember the bar/bat mitzvah bashes of the ’90s?” read a flyer. “Get ready! We’re bringing back the fun.”

“Pretend you’re 13 and enjoy the open bar (mitzvah),” read one online posting to promote the event.

“It was amazing,” Shaffin said in an email. “We danced the hora, had people lifted on chairs and just had a great time … At the end of the party, one person said, ‘Every party at Stanford should be a bar mitzvah party.'”