A Family-Made Bat Mitzvah
STYLE MagazineBat Mitzvah

A Family-Made Bat Mitzvah

From grandfather “Bernie the Baker” to her youngest siblings, Yaffa Antopolsky’s multigenerational family pitched in to make her bat mitzvah celebration a success.

Chana Shapiro is an educator, writer, editor and illustrator whose work has appeared in journals, newspapers and magazines. She is a regular contributor to the AJT.

Photos by Malka Griffin// The Antopolskys stop for a photo: (l to r) Chana, Shayna, Esther, Yaffa, Avraham, David (holding Chaya Mushka), Eliana.
Photos by Malka Griffin// The Antopolskys stop for a photo: (l to r) Chana, Shayna, Esther, Yaffa, Avraham, David (holding Chaya Mushka), Eliana.

Yaffa Antopolsky is blessed with a close-knit, imaginative network of family and friends, who combined their talents to create a bat mitzvah celebration that perfectly reflected her personality. The group effort resulted in a pink-hued festivity of home-made food, home-grown talent, and home-spun activities.

The theme of the celebration was Tehillim, or Psalms, and the spirit of King David — who wrote most of the psalms — was integrated into every aspect of the event, from Yaffa’s d’var Torah to table decorations and a lasting art project for Yaffa’s Chaya Mushka Elementary School classmates.

Photos by Malka Griffin// Yaffa and her classmates decorate personal books of Psalms.

“Yaffa led the way with the theme, and we came up with ideas and activities,” her mother Esther explained. “We wanted everybody to do something Jewishly meaningful, which would also be fun.”

The Antopolsky family likes to hold their simchas in natural settings. The Roswell River Landing provided an indoor and outdoor background for words of Torah, evocative activities for all ages, dancing, dining, socializing, and picture-taking. Two amenities specifically suited the Congregation Beth Tefillah Chabad family: They were given permission to kosher the oven in the kitchen for buffet food warming, and the site has a large loft area where Yaffa and her classmates created keepsakes.

Each table had a tzedakah box, painted by Yaffa, which was surrounded by coins. Guests were invited to fulfill the mitzvah of giving charity by putting the coins in the boxes, and many reached into their own purses and pockets for additional donations. The table decorations included harps. Esther explained, “King David played the harp, and we wanted to make that connection.”

Photos by Malka Griffin// Yaffa holds her baby sister, seven-week-old Chaya Mushka.

Yaffa loves art and crafts. Up in the loft, she and her classmates decorated their own hardcover psalters, books of Psalms. Yaffa’s paternal grandmother, Linda Antopolsky, noted, “Yaffa’s father, David, stayed up late last night, covering those books so the girls’ decorations would adhere permanently.”

David chimed in, “And my parents came from Augusta a few days early so that my mother could help with Chaya Mushka, our new baby. We had a lot to do!” Chaya Mushka, Yaffa’s fifth sibling, was born seven weeks before the bat mitzvah.

David did grocery and decoration shopping, helped Yaffa’s siblings write and choreograph an original song, and managed the logistics of the celebration. He hung all the decorations, which included a balloon arch created by Dawn Siegel. Michelle Leder helped with the buffet prep, and another close family friend, Malka Griffin, spent the afternoon taking pictures. Other guests led dancing.

Yaffa’s maternal grandfather, Bernie, well known in Atlanta as “Bernie the Baker,” was in charge of the kitchen. Bernie, his son Alex, and daughter Esther are excellent cooks who know how to cater to large groups of hungry guests. Yaffa likes to cook, too, and she and her 11-year-old sister Shayna prepared much of the food with their grandfather and their mother. The sumptuous dairy meal included Esther’s signature kugel, specialties by Bernie and Alex Idov, and bakery-worthy desserts made by Yaffa and her siblings.

Photos by Malka Griffin// The 12-photo clock was an original idea of Esther’s late mother, Janice Idov.

A poignant piece of original art, a clock with a photo of Yaffa at the age corresponding to each numeral, was prominently displayed. Esther learned that her late mother, Janice Idov, had planned to make a picture clock for Esther’s bat mitzvah, but she passed away a few months before the event.

“When we made the clock, it was a way to bring my mother to our simcha,” Esther explained. “In that way, all of Yaffa’s grandparents were with us.”

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