July 20, 1991, Newton, MA: Attendees called Daniel Guterman’s ceremony “just plain embarrassing” for his entire family and “a colossal waste of time.”
Jan. 23, 1993, Binghamton, NY: During the Hagbah ceremony, Uncle Howard strained a muscle in his back while attempting to hoist the 40-pound Torah and had to be helped to his seat by Aunt Sharon. Guests agreed it was all downhill from there.
June 10, 1961, Santa Rosa, CA: Bar mitzvah attendees reported that Ruben Brosbe’s voice cracked midway through his Haftarah recital, after which his tallis slipped off and dragged on the ground as he was descending the bimah, producing audible groans throughout the congregation.
Dec. 7, 2002, Tel Aviv, Israel: At the beginning of the ceremony, Rabbi Avraham Karelitz reportedly coughed right into the microphone, causing an eruption of feedback from which the bar mitzvah never recovered.
Sept. 19, 1987, Van Nuys, CA: Reception guests were roundly disappointed at the poorly conceived baseball theme at Nathaniel Birnbaum’s bar mitzvah party, which included a cardboard cutout of Dodgers catcher Mike Scioscia instead of fan-favorite Steve Sax.
Mar. 25, 1995, Stamford, CT: Aaron Wechsler fucked up the V’ahavta big time, and couldn’t pull it together for the Avot and Gevurot.
Apr. 8, 2006, Havertown, PA: Guests at Jacob Sherman’s bar mitzvah said they had seen better chair dances from a porpoise.
Feb. 14, 1981, Los Angeles: While attending his nephew’s bar mitzvah, TV legend Alan Alda reportedly suffered a severe bout of indigestion midway through the ceremony, forcing him to leave early.
Feb. 7, 2004, Brooklyn, NY: Hebrew scholars agree that 13-year-old Jordan Kupner couldn’t possibly recover from a mid-aliyah power outage at the Congregation Beth Elohim synagogue.
Nov. 6, 2010, Kingston, NY: Young brick Michael Kagan evidently had not practiced his Hebrew and stumbled through the entirety of his Torah reading, much to the shame of the deeply devout Kagan family.