Bar Mitzvah Joke

Informant Data: The informant is in her late 40’s, Caucasian and self-identifies strongly with Judaism. She is married with two daughters, and has a career as a Family Mental Health Therapist.

Item: The following joke: “Two rabbis were discussing their problems with mice in the attic of their synagogue. One rabbi says, “We could simply call an exterminator and we would never see the mice again.” The other rabbi says, “We could give them all a bar mitzvah and we would never see the mice again.” The following quotations are direct transcriptions of my dialogue with the informant, while the additional information provided is paraphrased.

Contextual Data: My informant first heard this joke attending services at a Seattle synagogue in her late 30’s. “It makes fun of that for a lot of kids, their bar mitzvah is the last time they attend services. They do Sunday school and learn Hebrew and work so hard on their bar mitzvah speeches, but after there’s a well-known gap where you don’t see them for a while.” My informant goes on, “I remember holding onto that joke, and going home and telling my husband. I thought it was pretty adorable.”