Photos by Eye Wander Photography

Timeless tradition: Emily Berg’s bat mitzvah celebrated family and faith

The sun started setting behind the Louisiana State Capitol as Emily Berg stood before guests and addressed important people in her life, inviting them each up to the table to light a candle. This special ceremony at the Capitol Park Museum was one of the final events of Emily’s bat mitzvah weekend, a weekend that was filled with dear friends and family. Earlier in the day, the 13-year-old read from the Torah and received the prayer shawl at her bat mitzvah ceremony at B’nai Israel. It’s a ceremony that her parents, Leslie and Scott Berg, had been planning for years.

“It’s a very family-oriented service,” says Leslie Berg. “The Torah is passed from generation to generation.”

Bat and bar mitzvahs have long been a tradition in the Jewish community, where young men and women officially come of age and become responsible for their personal moral and religious duties. Emily had been studying with Rabbi Jordan Goldson for over a year to learn more about her faith in preparation for this day. When it came time to plan the ceremony and the reception, Leslie Berg turned to event coordinator Leslie Campbell for guidance.

“I really wanted to capture Emily’s personality and celebrate the family,” says Campbell. “I wanted it to be fun for Emily and her friends as well as for Leslie and Scott. The age is so tricky, so you really have to think about how to make it interactive and entertaining for them.”

Campbell hired a DJ and incorporated flipbooks and games into the reception following the candle-lighting service at the museum. In lieu of a formal theme, Emily’s monogram was used on everything from linens to cups to lighting on the wall. Guests enjoyed a candy bar and a cupcake decorating station, and Marble Slab was on site to mix ice cream with plenty of toppings. But the festivities of the Saturday-night celebration did not dilute the sacred ceremony of the morning or the importance of the Friday-night ritual, where Emily first stood in front of the entire B’nai Israel congregation and read from the Torah.

“It’s a really proud moment to watch your child up there, leading the whole service,” says Leslie Berg. “It’s a time to feel close as a family and to celebrate all the hard work she had put in over the last year.”

For more photos from Berg’s bat mitzvah, view our gallery below:


Ceremony location: Congregation B’nai Israel
Luncheon: B’nai Israel with food from Kenny & Ziggy’s Deli, Houston
Reception location: Capitol Park Museum
Coordinator: Leslie Campbell
Caterer: Heirloom Cuisine
Cake: Tredici Bakery
Florist: Lance Hayes Flowers
Invitations: Paper N’ Things and The Keeping Room
Band/Entertainment: John Grey and Mobile Music DJ

Click on the photos in the gallery below for a closer look: