This week, Hulu’s Difficult People starred Marilyn (the firebrand mother figure, played by Andrea Martin), throwing herself a Bat Mitzvah.
Which we found pretty inspiring.
In honor of this momentous occasion, we decided it’s time to do a wrap-up of the five best bar mitzvah moments on TV. Because, yes, in the goldeneh medinah, anything is possible – even your first time wearing a tallis gets on national television.
“Ron the Man” (2003) Kim Possible
In this first season episode of the Disney Channel animated classic Kim Possible, Ron Stoppable (Kim’s sidekick/best friend/eventual boyfriend) has an existential crisis after he learns that his rabbi never signed his Bar Mitzvah certificate. After some hijinks involving a ring that gives Ron obscenely large muscles, Ron realizes, with help from Rabbi Katz, that you don’t need to be large and/or muscular to be a “real man.”
“Sister” (2014) New Girl
In this season three episode, proud Long Island Jew Schmidt and roommate/best friend/subpar wingman Nick crash a local Bar Mitzvah in order to win the heart of Rachel, an attractive He-brew school teacher. Unfortunately, Schmidt’s latest crush is the daughter of the rabbi, who isn’t a fan of Schmidt. While Nick and Schmidt do end up disrupting the proceedings in classic sitcom fashion, Schmidt never does get that date with Rachel.
“Gordo’s Bar Mitzvah” (2002) The Lizzie McGuire Show
Once again, Disney Channel comes in clutch with characters celebrating their journeys to Jewish adulthood. Lizzie’s friend Gordo begins questioning his manliness after his heartthrob-ier class-mate Ethan gets a dirtbike. His parents had originally given him the choice of whether to have a bar mitzvah ceremony, and after flirting with getting a tattoo, driving a car, and trying to shave (prematurely), our nerdy Gordo decides he’s going to become an adult by honoring his heritage and reading from the Torah.
“Today I Am a Clown” (2003) The Simpsons
Krusty the Clown has a less-than-traditional bar mitzvah ceremony in this episode from the fif-teenth season of The Simpsons. Notably, “Today I Am a Clown” centers on a adult Jew deciding to become bar mitzvah. After discovering that he can’t get a star on Springfield’s Jewish walk of fame because he never celebrated his bar mitzvah, Krusty (with the help of Lisa and Bart) reaches out to his father, Rabbi Krustofsky, to help him complete this rite, which ultimately ends up including Mr. T.
“Will Scarsdale Like Josh’s Shayna Punim?” (2017) Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Rachel Bloom’s musical television show is the perfect opportunity to incorporate some classic klezmer at a Bar Mitzvah ceremony. Patti LuPone guest stars as Rebecca (Bloom)’s childhood rabbi, who leads the Bar Mitzvah guests in a rousing original song, “Remember That We Suf-fered,” to make sure that no one is having too much fun.
Deborah Krieger is a curatorial assistant and freelance arts and culture writer. She has written for The Awl, Bust Magazine, PopMatters, Paste Magazine, Whitehot Magazine, and blogs at http://www.i-on-the-arts.com/.