Many people are actually surprised to hear that there’s a large and thriving Jewish community in my hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. In fact, Charleston was the home of the first Reform congregation in America, and Jews in Charleston have done a remarkable job of adapting their traditions to those of the community in which they liveperhaps too good a job.
For example, there’s the matter of Bar Mitzvah presents. (For those of you who aren’t in the know, a Bar Mitzvah is the ceremony at which a thirteen-year-old becomes a man in the eyes of Jewish law.) Traditional Bar Mitzvah presents around the country include books, money, whatever one might want to give a thirteen-year-old.
In Charleston, the traditional Bar Mitzvah present is a mint julep cup.
For my Bar Mitzvah I received no fewer than seven pewter or silver mint julep cups.
I mean, I’m all for when in Rome do as the Romans and all, but still, something about equating manhood with becoming a total lush makes me wonder.
In any case, we used all seven of them in a production of Sweeney Todd I was in in college and I haven’t seen a single one since.