batmitzvah200Scarsdale10583 received the following letter from a distressed parent. As it was a question of etiquette, we sent it to our Etiquette Expert for her opinion. Read the letter and her response here and send in your comments below: Dear Scarsdale10583: We have a policy in place in the Scarsdale Middle School regarding Bar Mitzvah sweatshirts so that kids don’t feel badly if they are not invited to a party--maybe we should initiate a policy regarding disinviting. I don’t even need to consult an expert to explain what being “disinvited” can do to a fragile, teenage ego. I experienced it firsthand when I got the phone call letting me know that my son was “disinvited” from a Bat Mitzvah. He had already responded to the invitation and said he would be attending.

When my phone rang it displayed the name of a stationary store in Heathcote. My son’s Bar Mitzvah was two-weeks away so when they said there was a mistake made, I thought maybe it had something to do with that. The man on the phone apologized and told me that my son received an invitation he should not have received due to a mailing list error. In a state of disbelief I listened to the voice on the other side of the line that continued with “I am sorry but I need to disinvite your son from the bat mitzvah.” He told me that the family had not intended to invite him in the first place. I felt like I was on a radio show and was the recipient of a Z100 phone tap but the DJ never got on the line to tell me it was a joke. Just like that, my son was “disinvited.”

At my son’s request, the Bat Mitzvah invitation came down from the bulletin board and was placed in the trash. He felt like a loser. He didn’t want to discuss it ever again. I wanted to call her parents, but at his request, I let it die.

I toyed with the idea of calling her parents to “disinvite” her from my son’s Bar Mitzvah, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. As it turns out, the girl didn't show up to my son’s Bar Mitzvah.

So I am left with the question of, what type of people actually would “disinvite” a child instead of just placing an extra chair at a table?


Dear Dissed: There are two sides to every story, though I can’t imagine what the other side of this story could possibly be. There is a bad apple in every bunch, and, unfortunately, it ended up in your (your son’s) grocery cart.

The only ‘out’ that one could give the family of the Bat Mitzvah child is a possible financial issue, though this is very doubtful given the fact that invitations were purchased from the stationary store in Heathcote in lieu of creating lovely, but presumably lower cost, invitations on a home computer.

Without knowing ‘the other side of the story’, there seems to be a clear and complete lack of empathy on the part of the Bat Mitzvah girl’s family. One must wonder whether the parents thought about how the “disinvitation” would make your son feel,….or how their daughter would feel if she were “disinvited” to a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, the invitation displayed on a bulletin board in her home with eager anticipation of the event.

You are to be commended for not stooping to the level of the family who disinvited your son by continuing to include their daughter in your son’s Bar Mitzvah service and celebration. But as they say, “No good deed goes unpunished.” How could this family commit a second offense two weeks after the “disinvite”, i.e., the daughter’s acceptance of the invitation to your son’s Bar Mitzvah and having you, as the host, place a chair at the table and pay for the girl’s attendance at the celebration….only to have her be a ‘no show’?

It is truly difficult to imagine – in the absence of clarifying details – that anyone, especially adults, could be so hurtful. And what are the parents teaching their daughter? Certainly not the fine lessons that you are teaching your son – to be inclusive and considerate of other people’s feelings. Let’s hope that, in the case of the Bat Mitzvah girl, the apple does fall far from the tree.

Ms. ePost