The Halloween Bar-B-Q Mitzvah

The Bar and Bat-Mitzvah. If you’re Jewish, or have Jewish friends with kids, then you’ve probably been to one or even had one. Maybe even several or too many to count. And you know what most of them are like. Large, wedding-like catered affairs usually held at a catering hall, with standard chafing dish food. For entertainment, everyone dresses up in suits and dances the hora.

You’re supposed to attend and hold them because you have an obligation. Not necessarily to have a good time. For the most part, Bar Mitzvahs are a requirement for Jewish parents because every other parent is having a Bar Mitzvah for their children, at great expense. You can’t NOT have one if you have children 13 years of age.  If you’ve been invited to a Bar Mitzvah and you happen to be close family or friends, and you live fairly close by — within several hours drive — you pretty much HAVE to go.  That is the unwritten rule of Bar Mitzvah etiquette.

This last weekend I went to a Bar-Mitzvah in which I actually had a good time and I didn’t feel like it was a sense of obligation at all. Why? Because it broke every single rule in the Bar Mitzvah book.

For starters, the family holding it decided that instead of outsourcing the entire thing to a catering hall and spend God knows how much money in the process, they would cook virtually all of the food they would serve themselves. Second, they held it on Halloween, and encouraged everyone to come in COSTUME. Third, the parents doing the cooking are accomplished competition BARBECUE chefs and judges. Combine that, and you get …

The Jordan Keiles Halloween Bar-B-Q-Mitzvah!

The Bar Mitzvah boy, Jordan, upper left, inspects his cocktail party spread. The star of the cocktail spread in my opinion were the Apple wood smoked Salami and Bologna, which I thought was genius. Shown also are sushi rolls and Asian pasta salad. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Ready for an unconventional Bar-Mitzvah? Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

The best part of the cocktail hour in my opinion was the SLIDER BAR. Yes, you got it correctly, the kid got his parents to serve home-made mini-hamburgers, a la White Castle. And they were fantastic. I particularly liked the cooking technique, which was to make them meatloaf-style and slice them up for serving. Martha Stewart and Rachael Ray may have some new inspiration here. Click on the photo to enlarge.

The proud father, Doug Keiles, dressed as Jose Cuervo, right, with his dad, two generations of barbecue men.

Halloween-themed table settings.

And some guests really did come in costume, although my wife and I chickened out.

And yes, they really did serve Barbecue. In the Synagogue’s social hall! Sorry, no pulled pork. But extremely good Barbecue Brisket, Barbecue Beef Ribs, Pulled Chicken and Barbecue Beans. For the kids, they even MADE the chicken fingers from scratch, out of whole strips of chicken breast (these came from GRUB HUT in Manville, where Doug works.) Best Chicken Fingers I ate in my entire life, too.

21 Responses to The Halloween Bar-B-Q Mitzvah

  1. Melissa says:

    Oy! This could have been turned into something bizarrely humorous and ludicrous but, it was done with wit and panache and, apparently, the food was top notch .. bravo to this family for getting it just right!

  2. […] So this morning, up pops in my feed reader a blog post by my friend Jason about a Halloween Bar-B-Q Bar Mitzvah. […]

  3. Doug K says:

    I am glad oyu had a good time at the Bar Mitzvah. It was a lot of hard work, but I think it really was special and unique.
    i will take credit for everything you mentioned above EXCEPT the Chicken Fingers.
    While they are hand-made, they are made by Michael Johnston, chef/owner of the GRUB HUT in Manville, NJ. They are the best tenders ever, that is why we had them.

    Also, I want to say that the awesome array of desserts were made by Lisa Lamson, of Jumping Dog BBQ.
    Lisa has received several “perfect” scores and has one many awards for her desserts.

    Stay tuned for our “Matzah Ball” throwdown…


  4. Doug K says:

    That is won many awards not one many…

  5. Dan Raine says:

    Doug and Laura – thanks for inviting Heather and I, we had a great time, many wishes to you and the family and thanks for allowing us to join you on Jordon’s big day!

  6. Bernard Kenner says:

    Mazel tov on your son’s Bar Mitzvah.

  7. Gus says:

    I missed all that, man!!! I can’t belive!!!

  8. Bart Sidle says:


    Great to see you are doing well. Barbeque is my second favorite food (after steamed crabs). I told my wife I wanted Barbeque at my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah and was overruled. I will show her this article with the hope she changes her mind.

    Mazel Tov



  9. BrooklynQ says:

    Congrats on the bar mitzvah. I’m glad to see that you’re raising another generation of BBQrs

  10. lauren says:

    is the applewood smoked beef salami in the picture kosher??? if so i would love to know where you can get that! thanks!

  11. Doug K says:

    Hebrew National Salami – is there any other? But hand smoked by me.
    I have a special pan and rack for my smoker that only kosher meats go.
    Or just smoke it yourself – rub it and smoke it, very easy – but mine has special Rub and flavorings.

  12. lauren says:

    ah-ha! i was going nuts looking for kosher applewood salami online. sounds delish! thanks for your quick response.

  13. The sliders look brilliant…any chance of getting the recipe from your gracious hosts…???

  14. Doug K says:

    Actually try ribswithin at gmail dot com

  15. […] out of control an idea, except that we’re talking the very same couple that decided to run a Hallowen-themed Barbecue Bar-Mitzvah for their 13 year old son only a few months ago. So we expected utter chaos and insanity, and […]

  16. John Bradley says:

    I love barbeque!!! Really nice site!!!! Congrats!!!

  17. The one thing I notice about all my Jewish friends, (don’t meant to generalise) is that they eat well. They know how to cook, they know about food, and they really enjoy gatherings with food. They have such a respect for it. Maybe it is all the influences they are so lucky to have, that all go into the amazing melting pot that is Jewish cuisine. We absolutely adore being invited around to their houses to eat. Especially if we are lucky enough to share their Friday night meal.

    And oh man do they know how to have a bar b. I am too embarassed to have them around to mine for one.

  18. Nick says:

    Congrats! It looks like it was a great gathering with excellent food. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Fred says:

    The variety of food looks fantastic. Tying in the occasion with Halloween was genius.

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