Family teamwork led to victory at a football fan’s barmitzvah. Match report by Anthea Gerrie
THERE WAS only one possible theme for the barmitzvah of Liverpool fan Naftali Wolfson — an homage to his favourite club. So guests at the first simchah held at Mill Hill Synagogue’s new Ner Orre hall were treated to a “red and white” ball, with giant cut-outs of the team’s iconic players on hand to greet the 190 guests, who had been asked to wear red and white.
“We planned and organised it all ourselves,” says Naftali’s mother Danielle. “I sourced the cut-outs through Amazon, and ordered toddler-sized strip to dress up our table numbers.
“We also created our own souvenir programmes for the evening, incorporating “key players”:, “managers’ notes”, and an interview with the captain — Naftali.
Danielle and her husband Jonny booked the venue before it was even built: “we were looking for a hall large enough to accommodate up to 200 and a substantial dance floor for separate simchah dancing. And as the reception was on a Sunday night, we wanted a location which would not involve the majority of our guests' having to leave early to get home.
“We took a risk that it would work for us, but it did — and the balcony worked particularly well as a separate dining and entertainment area for the kids.”
Caterer Neil Samuels, who carried through the red-and-white theming in table dressings, offered tapas to start, a meat buffet including mini steaks, lamb schwarma, sausages, orange-glazed chicken and Naftali’s favourite, salt beef. A dessert of “muddy knees with an early bath” — chocolate brownies with ice cream and chocolate sauce — played nicely into the football theme.
Yuval Havkin’s Kedma band provided the music and Gideon Simberg conjured up a little magic, while children were invited to exercise their brains with games and puzzles from the Happy Puzzle Company.
There was also some family-provided entertainment, with 25 cousins, siblings, aunts and uncles creating their own version of the Hokey Cokey, rewritten as a song about Naftali and his achievements.
However light-hearted the do, the Naglers decided they wanted to celebrate Nafatali’s barmitzvah with a legacy that went beyond just one night. They spent months raising £14,000 for Emunah’s children’s home in Afula, Lower Galilee, “mostly through sponsorship of a Premiership football marathon, which saw us visiting all 20 grounds in the league in less than 48 hours,” says Danielle.
“Liverpool did us proud, sending two of their legends to meet us at the stadium — and we achieved our aim of raising enough money to rebuild the sports grounds at the home. It was such a thrill to see the grounds completed when we visited Israel this summer.”
Naftali: supporting Liverpool — and the Emunah children’s home
The team, from left: Sigal; Jonny; “captain” Naftali; Danielle; Eliane