Beorn's simcha is this weekend, so I figured I should update on what we decided to do.
I have a total budget of about $1250. So, I felt I truly could not concern myself with themes or decorations. Since Beorn is doing mincha/ma'ariv/havdalah, and his portion is Nitzavim since he reads three aliyot from the following week's parsha, we concentrated on 'community' as a unifying theme, with the emphasis on the service itself.
Beorn did not invite anyone, as he has no friends. Somehow we wound up with 100 invited guests for the ceremony anyway, and he seems OK with that. Here is what planned.
We have about 20 out-of-town relatives coming in. On Friday night we will all attend Kabbalat Shabbes services and have Erev Shabbes dinner at the Lubavitch Jewish Center. The rebbetzin prepares dinner for 250 - 300 UF students every week for free, and she assured me my 20 family members will be no additional hardship. I plan on sending them a donation of $180 as soon as I possibly can though.
Even Beorn's therapists agreed it was expecting a bit much for him to attend Saturday morning services (our Rabbi's preference) and to still able to get through his ceremony Saturday afternoon, so we'll visit with relatives Saturday morning, and I'll run over to the shul after kiddush lunch to organize the set-up for our simcha. My budget is so limited that I am doing most of the cooking, but Beorn's favorite Religious School teacher (from kindergarten!) gifted us with hiring the Palestinian Chr-stian woman who does most of the shul's catering to set-up and break down everything for us (B"H!).
Another member of the congregation is hosting kiddush lunch in honor of a third member of the congregation's anniversary, and she has agreed to leave her decorations from lunch for our simcha. So, the shul's social hall will be decorated with multi-colored tablecloths and helium 'Mazel Tov!' balloons. Fine with me! It's more than I had planned.
Beorn is leading us for all of mincha, including the Torah service and chanting all three alityot with him reciting the blessings over the third portion. Then we'll break for the suedah shlitshit (Shabbes third meal) in the shul's social hall, which will be the main meal I am serving my guests since we get out of services so late at this time of year.
My Father-in-Law is providing vodka, rum, kahluah, and single malt scotch, as well as some mixers. I figure we'll have OJ, coke, half & half, and tonic water for those who want.
We will have an appetizer table with my own wonderful (if I do say so myself) deviled eggs and Individual Mozzerella Caprese, gefilte fish (bought by the same member who is leaving the decorations for me), and spinach and feta stuffed phyllo squares fixed by the caterer. Then we'll have my own lasagna and a lasagna made with eggplant instead of noodles (my sister has a wheat allergy, so the eggplant will be unbreaded) as the entrees. I'll serve a mixed greens salad with craisins, diced mangoes, and nuts, with a sweet dressing over it, a platter of roasted vegetables, and a quinoa tabouli.
We'll start with challah for Beorn to make motzi on, and since I am doing a dessert buffet as the party afterwards at my apartment's Commons Room, all I'll serve as a sweet at the suedah shlitshit is mountain trail mix with additonal M&M's mixed in.
I'll have coffee, decaf, hot water for tea, and soft drinks on hand for those not imbibing. Or forthose who might imbibe too much!
Then we'll go in for ma'ariv, which Beorn is also leading us in, except for the prayer for the days of awe, which my sister will lead.
At this point it should be time for havdalah, and anyone who brought cameras will be allowed to start taking pictures. Especially since I can't afford a photographer.
Beorn will light and hold the havdalah candle, while a brother and sister from his b'nai mitzvot class (the boy is already 13, but his sister turns 12 in December, so they're doing a joint ceremony in December) passes out a havdalah candle to every other guest. Each candle will have a paper bobeche to protect the guest from drips. The guests who don't have a candle will get a small mesh bag that I got at Michael's for 20 cents each using their 50% off coupon for Memorial Day stuffed with an herbal tea sachet inside it.
Beorn will then have a list of corny poems for 10 groups of guests. Those guests will come up to him and light their havdalah candle and stay up front with him while he reads through the poems and recognizes those who are being honored. We're ending with his entire b'nai mitzvot class (I had to invite them, so I may as well keep them from getting too bored), so I hope they're still listening.
After the 10 groups have beee recognized and lit their candles, they'll return to the congregation and allow others with unlit candles to light theirs.
Two more sets of brothers and sisters will then join us. The six year old boy will hold the havdalah candle, and his four year old sister will hold the tray the shul uses to catch the drips from the candle. The boy from Beorn's b'nai mitzvot calss will hold the kiddush cup, and his 11 year old sister will hold the spice box. Beorn will then lead us in havdalah, and hopefully everything at the shul will be over by 8:45 PM.
I have instructed Paul to mingle and chat with the guests at the shul while I fly home and see how the set-up for the dessert buffet in my Commons Room is coming along. A co-worker I invited has two under two, and she felt she culdn't attend the service, but volunteered to set-up the buffet for me (B"H!). So, I'll drive home, change clothes, and do the finishing touches between 8:45 and 10:00 PM, which is when the guests are supposed to arrive. I asked Paul to try and stall everyone at the shul until 9:30, but I know that's wishful thinking.
I am going to attempt to make a Torah-shaped cake (thanks for all of the advice, riddle!). I am pretty good at making key lime pies, so I figure I'll make two of those as well. I'll have an ice cream sundae bar for the kids, and any adults who wish to partake, and then I'll make chocolate fondue that I'll keep warm in my crockpot and serve with sliced fruit and marshmallows. I'll make some coffee and have some soft drinks.
I have reseved the Commons Room from Thursday night until Sunday afternoon. We have a surround sound system and an LCD projector, so while I'm making the deseerts Thursday night my sister and her husband (who are from Pittsburgh) will come by and watch the Dolphins/Steelers game since they will have arrived by then. I'll also set up the karaoke machine to be used on the surround sound system and the projector for the 'party.'
The Commons Room also has a game room with a pool table, ping pong table, foosball table, and air hockey. It is my hope the kids from the b'nai mitzvot class will be occupied in there while my sister tried to get the adults to take part in the karaoke.
Thankfully, the 'party' is only going until midnight. Do you think I have enough desserts for 50 guests for two hours? Or do I need anything else?
Sunday morning my 20 out-of-town guests will come back to the Commons Room at 10:00 AM for a farewell brunch. I plan on making steel cut oats in the crockpot, getting several dozen 'hot doughnuts now!' from Krispy Kreme, cut melon cubes, and some fish brought up from south Florida (you can't find any decent quality smoked fish here in Gator Town) by my father-in-law with bagels, cream cheese, and vegetable toppings.
I'll have coffee (no decaf this time) and orange juice for beverages.
By noon, everyone should be gone, and we'll begin cleaning up. I'm nearly positive I can do this on the $1250, plus the money my father-in-law is spending on the alcohol. I think considering Beorn had no input on what he wanted, and he's just excited to see multiple family members at one time that he usually sees separately, it will be a small, but nice, event.
It may take me awhile after the simcha to recoup and repost, but I'll let y'all know if we pull it off and how it all goes.