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August 17, 2012 6:55 AM   Subscribe

"On March 14, 1992, Shaun Sperling read from the Torah and became a Bar Mitzvah in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. The theme Shaun chose to signify the religious celebration of him becoming a man was 'Madonna'. "

"He credits his accomplishments in life to his parents, who were always open and loving, even when it came to wanting an entire Bar Mitzvah based on Madonna.

“They accepted me absolutely for who I was. Two years later I came out and they were shocked, which is crazy after you watch that video. But it was them supporting me and letting me be exactly who I was, no matter my sexual orientation or what I liked,” Sperling said."
posted by the young rope-rider (41 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
oy vey
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:59 AM on August 17, 2012


Great parents!
posted by candyland at 7:02 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like sharing this story
posted by The Whelk at 7:09 AM on August 17, 2012


You mean Esther?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:36 AM on August 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


My friend posted this and one of HER friends responded, saying that Shaun is one of his good friends in Chicago now. And he's apparently still awesome.
posted by Madamina at 8:00 AM on August 17, 2012


One can only hope he grew up to be in Mandonna.
posted by kmz at 8:04 AM on August 17, 2012


Huh, Stevenson. About two suburbs away from where I grew up, and a year or two older. Man, I clearly missed out on the best party by a hair.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:11 AM on August 17, 2012


God bless Shaun Sperling.
posted by eoden at 8:21 AM on August 17, 2012




That's really awesome. My Bat Mitzvah theme was Spring in Paris. Pretty lame in comparison.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:26 AM on August 17, 2012


Mazel tov
posted by dry white toast at 8:33 AM on August 17, 2012


THIS. This video is so THISSSSSSSSSS, that it needs to be referenced in the OED's definition of "this."
posted by duffell at 8:34 AM on August 17, 2012


I am not amused Clearly he is gay, and that is fine, but if the ceremony has any meaning whatsoever it goes beyond vamping to some overaged icon.
posted by Postroad at 8:41 AM on August 17, 2012


I am not amused Clearly he is gay, and that is fine, but if the ceremony has any meaning whatsoever it goes beyond vamping to some overaged icon.

There are a good many full-grown men out there who haven't fully grown INTO themselves--are not comfortable being who they are. Shaun Sperling, having just entered manhood, has no such hangup. I think he got the meaning just fine.
posted by duffell at 8:45 AM on August 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


if the ceremony has any meaning whatsoever it goes beyond vamping to some overaged icon

I'm not Jewish so correct me if I'm totally off-base in terms of my interpretation but I'm under the impression that this ceremony is the celebration of his becoming a man with all the attendant responsibilities. If this is the man he wants to be is one who vamps around, as long as he's a good man who fulfills his responsibilities, hey, celebrate who you are. It's a mitzvah!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:45 AM on August 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also, now might be a time to mention that for whatever reason I find it hilarious to buy cards for inappropriate occasions so, like, my brother got a Mother's Day card for his birthday last year. My go-to is always Bar Mitzvah cards because I just really like them and since I'm an adult Episcopalian they're almost always wrong for the occasion.

I learned a few years ago that someone with whom I'd gone to elementary and middle school recently transitioned to male and had changed his name to Abraham and converted to Judaism. We'd been reasonably good friends and he'd always had a great sense of humor and I realized it really would be the perfect time to send a Bar Mitzvah card to celebrate his becoming a Jewish man. Unfortunately, we'd fallen out of touch and I didn't have his address.

I apologize if this is super insensitive to anyone based on religion or gender identification; I don't know much about these issues but I do mean well and knowing the person in question he would have found it pretty funny. I am very open to correction if this is a hurtful anecdote for any reason.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:51 AM on August 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


I am not amused Clearly he is gay, and that is fine, but if the ceremony has any meaning whatsoever it goes beyond vamping to some overaged icon.
What does that even mean?
While it is a tradition in certain segments of the Jewish community to have kind of over the top, themed, formal parties that may or may not have any connection to the importance of the ritual of becoming a bar mitzvah, such as it is.
I mean, you can have a crazy, themed, expensive formal wedding reception and STILL think the most important part was the actual getting married part.
It's not either/or.
The ceremony and the party have no connection in the way you're drawing them together.
posted by atomicstone at 8:57 AM on August 17, 2012


if the ceremony has any meaning whatsoever it goes beyond vamping to some overaged icon.

Mrs. Pterodactyl is correct, this would be the party, which has no religious significance whatsoever (although rather a lot of cultural significance.) The structure is more or less like a wedding - ceremony then reception, and while there are plenty of traditions around the reception none of them actually affect the validity of the wedding.

We'd been reasonably good friends and he'd always had a great sense of humor and I realized it really would be the perfect time to send a Bar Mitzvah card to celebrate his becoming a Jewish man.

I can't speak for my entire religion but I would find that pretty fucking hilarious.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:58 AM on August 17, 2012


Mrs. Pterodactyl, I am also a fan of inappropriate cards. I usually get my husband cards that are in Spanish, or have monster trucks on them.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:17 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like to give "So sorry for your loss" cards to people who get their tonsils out.
posted by Madamina at 9:32 AM on August 17, 2012 [11 favorites]


Where I had my Bar Mitzvah, the Rabbi always gave a speech about how the theme of the party reminds him of Judaism. Basketball is like Judaism. Gymnastics is like Judaism. Playing the Saxophone is like Judaism. Blah blah blah. Always some observation about practice, discipline and commitment. Always long, self-important, and boring.

Now, I was a reluctant Bar Mitzvah, having decided on atheism at an early age. I was also a nerd in the late '80s. So when I chose "The Far Side" as my Bar Mitzvah theme, I did it partly as a nerd-fan of the comic but I did it mostly because I wanted to hear that speech.* Only now, with this FPP, do I see that I could have chosen much more audaciously.

Well done, Shaun.
_____
It didn't happen. I'm still disappointed.
posted by .kobayashi. at 9:33 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Postroad: If you don't find the side of a Madonna themed bar mitzvah awesomely absurdably hilarious you just might want to see someone about being dead inside.
posted by aspo at 9:49 AM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


My go-to is always Bar Mitzvah cards because I just really like them and since I'm an adult Episcopalian they're almost always wrong for the occasion.

You could also try Maya Angelou's Bar Mitzvah card.
posted by jonp72 at 9:53 AM on August 17, 2012


if the ceremony has any meaning whatsoever it goes beyond vamping to some overaged icon

Nice casual ageist misogyny there, bro.

As others have pointed out, this has nothing to do with the temple ceremony and everything to do with the celebration afterwards.
posted by elizardbits at 9:53 AM on August 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Postroad, don't preach.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:54 AM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Man, my Bar Mitzvah 'theme' was A Bunch Of People I Don't Know Stand Around Awkwardly At My Parents' House And Then The Neighbors Complain About All The Cars Parked On The Street.
posted by sleepinglion at 10:01 AM on August 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Nice casual ageist misogyny there, bro.

What part of this is misogynist? I'm asking honestly, not challenging the statement. Is 'vamp' freighted with misogynist overtones? Or is it because of other issues related to choosing a woman and a gay icon as a theme for the Bar Mitzvah?

Or is it simply that one expects this kind of derogatory remark to be applied out of proportion to women -- ie is there an inherently misogynist tendency in insulting a popular figure for their age?
posted by samofidelis at 10:27 AM on August 17, 2012


Or is it simply that one expects this kind of derogatory remark to be applied out of proportion to women

Yes. For example, Prince and Madonna have less than a month's difference in age and have similar sexualized overtones in their music and performances. And yet I have never in my life heard anyone refer to him as an "overaged icon" or any of the other snarky terms used for women who dare to be attractive and sexual in their 50s.

The statement itself is even more ridiculous when you consider that Madonna was 34 in 1992 at the time of this kid's bar mitzvah. But ugh, I guess 30 year old women daring to be attractive and sexual is totally gross too.
posted by elizardbits at 10:57 AM on August 17, 2012 [13 favorites]


vamping to some overaged icon...

And here I thought that was a reference to Moses.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:09 AM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


ugh did you SEE those robes he was wearing? they were so antediluvian.
posted by elizardbits at 11:11 AM on August 17, 2012


Oooh, I was wondering if there was something else more specific to Bar Mitzvah stuff that I didn't know about. Anyway. Sorry to disrupt the show.
posted by samofidelis at 11:12 AM on August 17, 2012


Exodus Yourself.
posted by The Whelk at 11:13 AM on August 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


hilarious when you consider all the pyramid art of ACTUAL PHAROAHS VOGUEING
posted by elizardbits at 11:18 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Like A...Prayer?
posted by threeants at 11:21 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Overaged icon" is offensive anyway. (See my drunken Super Bowl comment here if you don't get why.) But what the fuck does it even mean for a video that's 20 years old -- either ignorance of the article's details or thinking that 34 is old?
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:39 AM on August 17, 2012


Oops somehow I totally missed elizardbits saying the exact same thing. I swear I read every other comment though.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:40 AM on August 17, 2012


Like A...Prayer?

'Like a Prayer' Madonna is my favourite Madonna, because of.







I got to go do some stuff.
posted by samofidelis at 12:09 PM on August 17, 2012


elizardbits: "Yes. For example, Prince and Madonna have less than a month's difference in age and have similar sexualized overtones in their music and performances. And yet I have never in my life heard anyone refer to him as an "overaged icon" or any of the other snarky terms used for women who dare to be attractive and sexual in their 50s. "

The difference between Prince and Madonna (besides the obvious) is that Prince is sexy. Madonna just keeps insisting she is.

As for the "aging" factor, I invite you to watch their respective Superbowl Halftime Shows:
Prince
Madonna
posted by mkultra at 12:41 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Speaking of cultural crossover, in the largely Mexican neighborhood where we live, when male shopkeepers figure out that my husband is a member of the tribe, they have a tendency to sidle up to him and ask, "so, did it hurt a lot when they circumcised you at your Bar Mitzvah?"
posted by Scram at 7:16 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Congrats to the bar mitzvah, but why does metafilter like to conflate overcompensation with knowledge of self?
posted by falameufilho at 11:55 AM on August 18, 2012




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