It's the number #1 movie on Netflix. It has some of the best ratings of any Adam Sandler movie. And it's about… bat mitzvahs.
You Are SO Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah
! is a teen comedy set against the coming-of-age celebrations of two besties, dreaming of their big parties. But when Stacy catches Lydia with her avowed crush, she indignantly issues Lydia her titular banishment.
This is a family film--with Adam Sandler and Idina Menzel playing Stacy's parents--and in another sense as well: Sandler's movie daughters are played by his actual kids, Sadie and Sunny; his wife, Jackie, plays Lydia's mom.
Jewish teens are having a definite pop-culture moment. This film follows on the heels of the Judy Blume adaptation
Are You There God?It's Me, Margaret
and Netflix's own
13: The Musical
, all released this year.
Moving Traditions, an organization serving Jewish teens, noticed the trend. They made
SO Not Invited
the basis of 'Who's Invited to YOUR B-Mitzvah?,' a recent webinar in their online series, Raising Up Teens. Moving Traditions offers programs for Jewish teens--and the adults in their lives--providing the language and skills adolescents need to enter adult life in an emotionally healthy way, steeped in Jewish values.
The August webinar was moderated by Rabbi Daniel Brenner, Moving Traditions' Vice President of Education, and featured Rachel Penzner, Moving Traditions' Kol Koleinu Teen Feminist Fellow.
The webinar encouraged parents to make their teens part of the event-planning process, and ask themselves: "How can I share my moment with the friends who have supported me?" and "How do my friends relate to my choices and values?"
"It's important to find stories that help you make sense out of adolescence," Brenner said. "We like how the movie discusses the parent-child experience. We want parents and children to develop a
-style (Talmud-study) partnership, learning together and from each other, finding the perspective of the other. In our program, The 10 Tasks of Adolescence, the final task is to re-negotiate the relationship with one's parents."
The film was "a mirror of everything that happened to me," Penzner said. "Stacy realizes that being a woman is not just about having your party… but about treating the people around you as an adult, about how your social aspects merge together to form an adult person."
As the book the movie is based on came out in 2005, the filmmakers expanded on the social-media realities of teen life for their 2023 adaptation. "I appreciated the underlying message about social media--it can really be a toxic place," Penzner said. "You can post yourself having fun with your friends, [but] every stupid thing you do gets put on there."
The movie was shot in Toronto's Congregation Beth Tzedec, led by former Chicagoan Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin, with many of her congregants serving as extras.
Brenner hopes the film will spark conversations among teens. After all, this Jewish rite of passage should be, he said, "more than a ceremony with a photo shoot."
Find more programs for Jewish teens and their adults at movingtraditions.org.