Foot­ball pitch

Fam­ily team­work led to vic­tory at a foot­ball fan’s bar­mitz­vah. Match re­port by Anthea Ger­rie

The Jewish Chronicle - JC Magazine - - Contents -

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

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