Please. No one is criticizing. No one.
It just needs to be made clear that the noisy celebration (mostly from the music-ry) one recent weeknight in the vaulted-ceilinged brass-chandeliered refectory of the General Theological Seminary, in Chelsea-an event attended by hundreds of stylish strivers wearing red Kabbalah bracelets and red felt yarmulkes imprinted with the host company's logo-was a prototype .This was not-not yet, anyway-the gold standard for a fusion bar mitzvah.
The principal celebrant was Jonah Disend, forty-one years old, trim, dark bearded, the founder and chief executive of Redscout, a branding and product development company that opened for business in his apartment in 2000 and now occupies two floors of a building in the Flatiron district plus an office in San Francisco, with clients all over the map. Among Redscout's killer concepts: Air Craft, "a differentiated experience in the air care category that went beyond scent masking/neutralizing or scent delivery to a new scent behavior called Scentmaking"; Ingenuity™, Parker Pen's "first ever hybrid ballpoint/fountain pen with the romance and luxury appeal of a fountain pen and the practicality of a ballpoint"; and the Gatorade G-Series, which trans formed that "brand and business from introducing new flavors for people watching sports on the couch to innovating for real athletes and their needs."
Emboldened by a belief that he now knows a thing or two, plus the fact that Redscout was turning thirteen, Disend a few months ago got the inspiration to re-brand the bar mitzvah – traditionally a life-cycle ritual regarded with gravitas by devour observers of Judaism, a recognized religion – as an office-party motif.
A couple of days before the event, he sat in his office and reflected upon this milestone. I grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, and spent seventh and eighth grades going to a lot of bar mitzvahs without having my own," he said. "Thirteen is the most interesting time. A time of deep confusion and yet enough intellectual ability to do really interesting things. We're most creative in that period. You still have an imagination and you're figuring it all out. I remember thirteen very well.
'This is our annual party, but calling it a bar mitzvah-well, there's the symbol ism of it all. And then there’s the fun, to be silly and celebrate. My clients think it's creative and funny. It feels very on-brand for us. A little bit kooky.
"I have a knack for understanding consumer culture, and I think I'm an in credibly good listener. So I'm able to walk the halls of Walmart and kind of understand the landscape and understand why people do what they do and want what they want and then help companies figure that out. I feel I've become a bit of a master at that now and I'm ready for the next chapter. How do I help people, how do I create other masters?"
What would he be wearing?
"A Tom Ford velvet bright-blue tuxedo jacket ."
How about a tallith?
'What's that? Oh, yeah…no, I was thinking about that, too. But, no. I do have this beard, though."
The night of the party, Disend stood near the entrance to the refectory whose Gothic-revival architecture makes it, according to the Very Reverend Kurt Dunkle, dean of the seminary, "look just like the Hogwarts dining room"-and greeted guests, his tuxedo jacket accompanied by blue tuxedo pants, patent leather shoes, and a black velvet bow tie.
For the first hour or so, a d.j. had the volume cranked up sufficiently to render sustained conversation out of the question, so guests migrated from the food stations (chicken soup with kreplach, braised brisket, lox, bagels, babka, rugelach) to the bar, where the specialty drinks included Have-a-Tequilas, Shmooze-tinis (gin, vermouth, pickle), and Whiskey Sour'krauts (again with the pickle).
Live music was to be provided by Kingswood, an Australian rock band that Disend met by chance last summer in Nashville .The band members were hairy enough that with a little rearranging and tailoring, plus a repertoire overhaul, they could have passed for a Hasidic klezmer combo. ''It's our first bar mitzvah," the lead vocalist said.
Disend made a speech in which he thanked his parents and brothers, said that he started Redscout because he "wanted to come up with really fucking creative solutions to big brand and marketplace challenges," acknowledged that he "may have yelled at a few too many people over the years; there were lots of tears shed that were not mine," said he wanted to hug every person in the room, and finally introduced Kingswood.
The band began to play. They were very, very, very loud. So loud that one felt bad for the Episcopal clerics – nineteenth and twentieth-century Seminary faculty members – whose portraits hung around the room. Once it became apparent that Disend wasn't going to be hoisted in a chair while everyone danced the hora, the older people did what older people tend to do in such situations. They left.
- Mark Singer