We had the good fortune of connecting with Rebecca Halpin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rebecca, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I grew up in a thriving Jewish community in Houston, TX. My 7th grade year (1993-94) , I attended a Bar or Bat Mitzvah almost every single weekend, some weekends more than one. My parents would schlep me from party to party, where I was always found on the dance floor, Electric Sliding the night away. Since I attended music theater specialty schools in both middle and high school, my weekends were reserved for my Jewish community. Religious school at my Reform synagogue was a chance for me to connect with my Jewish friends and enhance my spiritual education, and once I hit 6th grade, almost every Saturday night was spent in a hotel ballroom or some other venue with these friends, donned in my “5-7-9” best. I never realized at the time that there could be a career as a Mitzvah Professional, working with teens at this prime age to celebrate a huge accomplishment (reading Torah and leading their congregation in prayer) with a fun and unique party as a Planner.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My clients aren’t the families trying to “keep up with the Steins”, if you will. Most of them are working with modest budgets, just hoping to celebrate their child in a way that feels in line with their Jewish upbringing. They want the child to feel special and honored, but not in a braggadocious way. It’s a fine line to tow, but I think I manage it well. It’s not just a 13th birthday party. The child has typically spent several years learning Torah and Jewish studies in extracurricular religious school, as well as the past year with a Bar/Bat Mitzvah tutor practicing their Torah portion and crafting their D’var Torah (sermon). Then on the day of, they lead their congregation in prayer. It’s no small feat. My goal is to help them celebrate this in a meaningful and unique way, and I think I do that well.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m a huge foodie, and Los Angeles has one of the best culinary scenes in the world. One of my favorite activities I did, shortly after the Metro gold line was completed, was take a food tour of all of the new Metro stops, including Chinatown, Little Tokyo, and even some Mexican neighborhoods that used to be Jewish! Whenever I have friends in town, food is a major part of the agenda. Some of my favorites include all-you-can-eat mussels at Meet in Paris in Culver City, Soon Tofu at Seoul Tofu, Oxtail Pho at Phorage, and pretty much any KBBQ place in Koreatown.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My first clients should be credited for helping me realize I could make it in a career as an Event Planner. I had been working for non-profit organizations for over 10 years managing programs, planning Galas and fundraisers, and generally assisting with their organizational management, while also teaching 7th grade in religious school. One of the families in my class approached me about helping plan their twins’ B’nai Mitzvah. I hadn’t ever planned one, much less attended one in many years, but I quickly learned that it wasn’t so different from my work at the larger organizations. And with years of teaching teens and pre-teens under my belt, I had a good understanding of what they liked and disliked, and how to plan a party that made sense for that individual child. That family had faith in me to produce a special event for them, and that was the start of a budding event planning career, specializing in Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.
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