Jun 4, 2013
The Bar Mitzvah Maamer Solution

While preparing for his son's Bar Mitzvah, Five Towns Shliach Meir Geisinsky was faced with a dilemma: how to keep the crowd's attention during the reciting of the Maamer?

Several Shluchim, Anash and their Simcha guests have already enjoyed, followed and understood the famous Bar Mitzvah Maamer far better than ever before.

For many parents, the preparations for their son’s upcoming Bar Mitzvah involves confirming the details with the caterer, photographer, musician, video crew and all that is necessary in creating a beautiful and memorable simcha.

But for Mendel Geisinsky’s parents there was one more tedious and lofty obstacle to overcome; it was how to keep the crowd’s attention during the recital of the maamer that every Bar Mitzvah boy works so hard to memorize.

Especially as they are on Shlichus where many in the community have no idea what is going on at this time – what should the guest in attendance be doing during the 10 to 15 minutes it takes for the Bar Mitzvah boy to recite the maamer? How to keep the decorum in the hall?

We assume there are those who will spend the time checking their messages on their cellphones. But pay attention? Most don’t understand Yiddish or what is being said, and even those who do understand Yiddish might find it difficult to comprehend a maamer authored by the Rebbe Maharash more than a hundred years ago.

So, close to 12 months before Mendel’s Bar Mitzvah, Mendel’s father Rabbi Meir Geisinsky, Shliach/Youth Director in Chabad Five Towns, no stranger to customizing slideshows and videos, took it upon himself to try and come up with something visual to display during the recitation of the maamer to clarify several of the concepts expressed. The idea evolved – slowly, and tirelessly.

Experimenting with several ideas, requesting assistance from other rabbis and shluchim regarding a precise translation was indeed a laborious task. Progress was slow until by hashgacha pratis the Shlucha Faigie Kaplan from Flamingo, Ontario, Canada, posted an email on the Shluchos email forum that she was looking for options to keep their Baalei Batim involved during her son’s Bar Mitzvah. A partnership was formed, as Rabbi Meir Geisinsky took care of all the graphics and Rabbi Mendel Kaplan (Faigie’s husband, a renowned lecturer ) spent much time preparing, translating and condensing the text of the maamer.

Rabbi Meir Geisinsky is very thankful that his son is only a few months younger than Shmuel Kaplan from Toronto. He is extremely appreciative for the help Rabbi Kaplan provided.

Rabbi Geisinsky has since personalized the maamer for more than 20 Bar Mitzvahs. Rabbi Geisinsky adds: “I’m delighted to be able to take part in a Simcha even from a far distance. Bringing the maamer to a level that many more can understand and appreciate is a heartwarming task. Even the Bar Mitzvah boy himself gains tremendously from watching this video during his preparations.”

At Mendel’s Bar Mitzvah, a family friend Brandon Margolis said, “Whereas I would normally be trying to pick out whatever words I could understand and try to piece together the meaning, suddenly the maamer came to life.” Jeff Neckenoff, Lecturer and DJ shared after the maamer, “I was so engrossed, I didn’t even realize that I had received 5 texts during the maamer.” And Shliach Rabbi Mendy Harlig from Las Vegas, Nevada said: “Thank you it was beautiful. I got a lot of complIments from my family and people in my community.”

When asked how simple it is to make this happen, Geisinsky responded: “It’s a lot easier for the parents. All the parents need to do is send me six set pictures of the Bar Mitzvah boy and pay the nominal fee. I will incorporate their son into the maamer presentation. Whenever the maamer talks about learning Torah, there’s a picture of the Bar Mitzvah boy; when it talks about wearing Teffilin, there is a picture of the Bar Mitzvah. These breath taking scenery pictures are positioned on the screen near the text of the maamer. The parents need to determine the amount of time it takes for their son to recite the maamer so that the presentation will be customized for him. On one occasion the Bar Mitzvah boy simply read the Maamer translation from the video - as the Yiddish or Hebrew would have been too difficult.

For more information, visit www.maamerpresentation.blogspot.com. Special discount for Shluchim – payment arrangements can be made if need be. (The Maamer presentation can also help any Bar Mitzvah boy better understand the maamer. All are welcome to visit the site for this purpose as well.)

Most Read Most Comments

Opinions and Comments
kol hakavod
kol hakavod brilliantly done . what a great idea to keep the people involved , mazal tov
mendel brikman
(6/4/2013 9:58:40 AM)
where is the disc available?
(6/4/2013 9:58:43 AM)
a shlucha
this is great! thanks!
(6/4/2013 10:01:50 AM)
I say by every maamar a video should play.Especally by lchaims!
(6/4/2013 10:11:30 AM)
so creative
wow what a nice idea!!!
(6/4/2013 10:57:05 AM)
Another good idea
A choson recently said the maamer by his lchaim in English so people would understand! Great idea too!
(6/4/2013 11:11:33 AM)
nice butnot unique
This is a great idea, but not new - seen it a few times already. It may be original that he incorporated the BM bochur into it, but the video of explanation has been used
(6/4/2013 11:14:30 AM)
Abba's right #4
No one pays attention to maamorim any more. This a great solution. We dread them at every birthday and event in our shul. And it saves time by combining the slide show with the maamer!
(6/4/2013 11:32:54 AM)
If JEM would be interested, and there is a need, I would sponsor doing a video or slide show with a translation of the Maamor in English, which can be shown to the crowd at the time the boy says the Maamor. The same should be done with the Chasuna Maamor. Elkanah Shmotkin knows who I am if he wants to pursue this..
(6/4/2013 12:58:18 PM)
I've seen this before!
My relatives, also on shlichus have shown a video for their sons maamer as well. Def a good solution
(6/4/2013 1:09:23 PM)
Kol Hakovod Meir
This is Great...
(6/4/2013 1:39:47 PM)
meir geisinsky is the king, no other shliach is like him or as hard working as him,
(6/4/2013 1:42:43 PM)
Same writer as comment #9
I just looked at the video included with the COL story and I see that it includes the whole Maamor - Great job Rabbi Geisinsky, so there is no need for JEM to also do it. However, I do think that one should be done for the Chasuna Maamor.
(6/4/2013 2:07:27 PM)
excellent idea
that was brilliant & beautiful
(6/4/2013 2:22:51 PM)
r meir
R Meir Rocks!
(6/4/2013 2:24:37 PM)
The problem is the way maamorim are said
Nowadays a maamar needs to be said in English, in a normal tone, and with eye contact between the speaker and his audience. The traditional way puts people to sleep. Powerpoint isn't really necessary but it can't hurt.

A bigger problem, though, even for those who can follow a maamar in Yiddish and in the traditional singsong, is that nobody insists on complete silence while it's said. The noise level prevents one from hearing even if one wants to, and the inability to hear leads one to talk, thus making the problem feed back on itself. The more noise there is, the more the noise increases. What's needed is an expectation by all that there will be no talking during the maamar, and someone or a few people designated to enforce this.
(6/4/2013 2:30:54 PM)
To #9 Chasuna maamor
This can't be done for Chasuna Maamor - in order not to embarrass many Chassanim who can not say a maamar properly!!
(6/4/2013 3:23:09 PM)
Shlomie Perlstein
good to see you
(6/4/2013 4:02:06 PM)
was there
brillant idea Ariber R M eir y Haddasa!
(6/4/2013 4:44:02 PM)
to # 7 and 16
I have just two words regarding your comments: PARTY POOPER!!! it seems to really bother you that someone did something amazing and should rightfully get the credit for it.
(6/4/2013 5:55:30 PM)
Though I'm sure you are correct that RMG is a ver hard and labroriously working Shilach, your comment is ludicrous and sounds like its written by a two year old, which is quite common here on col. I'm not much better, only 20yo and no English education ( before you pounce me back), but do you really think that's a genuine compliment to say that there's no other shliach hard working out there? It sounds childish and insincere when i read these types of comments here. Sorry, my 2 cents!
(6/4/2013 5:57:47 PM)
rabbi meir
coolest shliach
(6/4/2013 6:07:55 PM)
Yasher koach Meir
Such a sincere ehrlich yid.
(6/4/2013 7:10:52 PM)
The slideshow was so nice, I loved finally knowing the maamar!
Awesome, Meir!
(6/4/2013 7:53:21 PM)
to #17
why not &why would it embarrass a chosson? It is a great idea who's time has come & i would recommend it for all Simchas & as video stands for a very long time especially digital you can look back @ any time in living color
(6/4/2013 8:13:29 PM)
the best shliach
we are so proud of our shliach, friend, and cousin who is so talented and devoted to all he encounters. the beautiful bar mitzvah was full of meaning.
your five towns fans.
(6/4/2013 8:48:54 PM)
pure genius, and the boy can read the maamor, no one will notice :)
(6/4/2013 9:30:53 PM)
mother of bar mitzvah boy
What a great job. Yasher Koach.
(6/4/2013 10:35:35 PM)
Go Rabbi and Faygie Kaplan
I know that with their guidance this video has great English vocabulary, and done in a proper and chassidishe way!
So proud
(6/4/2013 11:55:17 PM)
crown heightser
very impressed!! beautiful. its also so nice for all the non lubavitcher attendants at the simcha since they are always wondering about the long maamar and what its all about. this should satisfy all their curiosity.
(6/5/2013 10:38:55 AM)
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