Masks are the new kippah, said Chavie Knapp, a mother who is giving out customized masks instead of yarmulkes at her daughter Sophie’s bat mitzvah.
“Masks have become the new normal,” said Knapp, whose daughter’s big day is planned for Labor Day weekend in Teaneck, N.J.
COVID-19 has forced cancellations and postponements of countless events, including bar and bat mitzvahs. Some people, however, have decided to forge ahead with their plans, especially in places where infection rates have dropped. Now those families must navigate event organization during a pandemic that requires several safety measures — and masks are one of them.
“I would have never thought I would be making masks,” said Stephanie Feldman, owner of Cutie Patootie Creations, an event design studio specializing in bar/bat mitzvahs, “but masks have been really, super popular.”
Feldman started adapting her business in March, when widespread lockdowns started. Custom masks printed with bar and bat mitzvah logos have been among Feldman’s most successful new offerings.
Knapp, who is throwing an outdoor, socially-distanced party, sees the custom masks she bought as more than just “really, really cute.”
“The masks make us feel like we’re doing our diligence in terms of making sure that everybody has one, whether or not they came prepared,” said Knapp.
Rachel Prero, whose daughter Naava’s bat mitzvah is set for Labor Day weekend in Cleveland, bought custom lilac and silver, “Naava’s Bat Mitzvah” masks to match her daughter’s party colors. Both a safety measure and a 2020 upgrade to bat mitzvah gear, Prero considers masks to be a “crucial” element of throwing the party.
“It’s really pretty, and especially since the kids will be going back to school where they’ll be needing to wear masks, it’ll be another option for them to wear,” said Prero.
According to event designer Feldman, the power of the customized mask lies in its transformation of a safety precaution into a point of connection and an additional way to celebrate.
“I think the parents and the kids worry that it’s not going to be meaningful, that it’s not going to be fun,” Feldman said, “but parents will mail the masks to their guests to wear over Zoom and people wear them at the event. It makes everyone feel like they’re really part of the celebration.”
Noa Wollstein is a senior at Princeton University pursuing degrees in English, Documentary Production, and Journalism.