'Our simchah is off but there are much more important things going on'

Families postponing bar/batmitzvah celebrations say they are disappointed but did not want relatives and friends put at risk


Janine and Nigel Brahams had been planning a bnei mitzvah celebration for older son Leon and daughters Saskia and Zara for Saturday week at the New North London Synagogue in Finchley.

They had also been expecting 200 guests at a party at Moor Park Golf Club in Rickmansworth but have had to cancel it because of the coronavirus situation. They were waiting on the shul to find out if a reduced ceremony for a minyan was possible.

Mr Brahams told the JC the family were “really disappointed”, but “the reality is that there are much more important things going on.”

Their children had “taken it in their stride, probably more than we have”, having been concerned about the wellbeing of their grandparents, who were planning on attending.

As their other son Joel’s barmitzvah is in May next year, and “we’ve got a party scheduled for May 9, which also happens to be our wedding anniversary, we’ve promised the children an extra special party for them”.

Sarah Isaac’s son Yishai was due to have his barmitzvah this weekend at Tiferet Eyal Synagogue in Hendon, with a party for 200 people on Sunday.

They decided to cancel as “there was just no way that we wanted to put our family, especially, and our friends at any risk, and to not celebrate properly for my son”.

They were “obviously devastated”, but hoped to be able to do the leining in shul on Saturday and have a small party at home on Sunday.

Ms Isaac said Yishai “completely understands. He’s more worried about us than he is about himself.

“I explained to him that being barmitzvah is learning all responsibilities of life and having challenges. This is the thing that has faced you and you’ve taken an approach like a true barmitzvah boy.”

The father of a girl due to have been batmitzvah at Stanmore Synagogue this weekend said the celebration had been postponed until September.

“It really was quite a dilemma, because on the one hand we felt it may not be safe — not just for us, but loved ones, friends — and on the other hand we weren’t quite in the mood in the current climate,” he said.

Apollonia Events in Stanmore reported that all simchah bookings had been cancelled or postponed.

Events director at Apollonia Michéle Christoforou said that in almost 41 years of trading “we have never experienced anything so surreal”.

Mazi Cohen of Cohen’s Caterers in North London said that all their events from March into June were either cancelled or postponed.


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