June 19, 2024
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June 19, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

So you’re making a simcha. Mazel tov! Have you sent out invitations yet?

That’s what everyone wants to know.

“But I don’t know where I’m making it,” you’re saying.

Too bad. You need to send out invitations.

You figure that the main things you have to do first are find a venue, a caterer, a musician—anyone who, if you call them too late, will tell you that they’re already booked—and that’s it. How long does it take to take care of invitations, right? You can do them the night before!

You can’t. For one thing, you have to send them enough in advance that people can make plans, though not so far in advance that people will put it on their fridge and forget about it. So in other words, you have to know the people you’re inviting (always recommended), and then decide when to send each individual invitation out based on the person. Or you can print double what you need and send out two copies—one six months before and one a week before.

Also, it doesn’t take one day to print your invitation, for some reason. When you’re at home and you want to print something, you just hit “print,” but if you go to an invitation place, it takes two weeks. My guess is that the fancy cards keep getting stuck in the printer.

There are several steps in printing an invitation, and your wife will make you sit there for all of them. For the last bar mitzvah we made, I tried to order the invitations myself. I was on the phone with the invitations place, pricing them out, and I said, “OK, so let’s order them.” So the woman asked, “Well, do you want them in white, cream, or antique white?” And I said “White. Wait, I should ask my wife.” So my wife arranged an appointment, and we sat in this woman’s house for an hour and my wife narrowed down the choices slowly until she decided on white.

This is why men don’t plan bar mitzvahs. I’m glad I left it up to her, because otherwise I would have picked white without agonizing.

You’re also going to have to decide if you want the invitation to be just a card you can mail or a two-page booklet. You have to know your people: Is anyone going to read two pages of invitation? I personally just read the name and the place and the time. And for some reason, I read the bottom to see if they included grandparents. I don’t know why.

You have to keep going out of your way to stick extra words on the card. You say things like, “We will be honoured to have the favour of your presence on Thoursday, the twenty-fourth of the mounth of Octobour.” Because it’s classy not to be able to read the date. Now I have to read the entire invitation every time I want to confirm when it is. “Let’s see… It’s b’shaah shtayim v’shloshim v’chameish … What?” And if it’s a bar mitzvah, you have to write things like “baneinu hayakar.” I wasn’t sure what “yakar” means, so I looked it up, and the definition I got was “expensive.”

I say it should be like an upsherin invitation; no full sentences—just colons and information that we need to know:

WHO: _________

WHAT: _________

WHERE: _________

WHEN: _________

WHY: _________


Then they ask you how many copies you want. And they have rules, like you have to round it up to the nearest hundred. You can’t print 173. I’m like, “I have a printer at home; I know how printers work. I can print 173. Why am I throwing out 27 cards because you don’t want to do math? So now I have to figure out 27 new families I want to invite.

And then you have to design the reply cards. For starters, you want to leave a bank space for the person’s name, but you also want to put a large M there for them, to start them off. In case they forgot how to write their names. “Mr. and Mrs. X will be coming.” If you’re not on a first-name basis, why are they invited? And what if they’re a rabbi? Do they have to write “Maran Hagaon X will be coming”? “Medical Professional X will be coming”? I’m just speculating here. I just fill in “ordechai.”

And then what do you put in for after the name? Well, some people give a checklist to fill out:—Accepts with pleasure—Declines with regret.

There’s no “accepts with regret” or “declines with pleasure.” They don’t really want to know the circumstances. They’re making a simcha; they don’t have time for your shalom bayis issues.

The other option is to write “will _____ attend,” and the person gets to fill in some adverb, like ‘not’ or ‘IY”H.’ What do atheists write? “Will coincidentally attend”?

And even when you’re done picking out invitations and reply cards and envelopes and little maps, you still have to mail them. Even to your next-door neighbor. You can’t just hand deliver them, because that’s not classy. Handing it to them in person is awkward anyway, because they don’t immediately know what it is, so you kind of have to stand there and watch them open it, like it’s a letter from their relative in the 1800s. Or else they look at the closed envelope and ask, “What is this?” and you don’t answer because you’re already halfway down their stairs.

You don’t have time to answer them. You’ll see them at your simcha; they can ask you then. Or they’ll figure it out.

Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published seven books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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