Timothy is becoming a man on October 18, 2021. He has a sober understanding of what this means. As Timothy’s father, Dr. Nagle, PhD, and I have been on forced sabbatical from our faculty positions, we’ve had ample time to decide the theme for Timothy’s Bar Mitzvah. Timothy’s Bar Mitzvah will be seen through the lens of the American literary classic Moby-Dick.

The rabbi has been very clear: the Bar Mitzvah itself cannot have a theme. But in keeping with the theme we already established, we will defy God and Order, and Timothy’s Bar Mitzvah will have a theme. The theme will be Moby-Dick.

Ceremony Details

Timothy will awake from a nightmare and exit our Dodge Caravan parked outside Beth Israel Synagogue in La Jolla, California. He will carry this frantic energy into a soliloquy that illustrates his musings on the unattainable apostasy and his assigned Torah portions. If all goes well, this should take hours.

A Brief Pause from Terror (Reception)

Despite his best efforts, my husband, Dr. Nagle, PhD, could not secure a whaling vessel that would port in the San Diego Harbor. Instead, we will be occupying the party room adjacent to Ultrazone Laser Tag in Point Loma. In keeping with the theme, we declined the free rounds of laser tag that come complimentary with the package we purchased.

We cannot stress this enough: If you choose to play laser tag, not only will you be neglecting your duties to stay on theme, you will be considered a mutineer of Timothy’s party.

No One Can Come to the Reception as Moby-Dick

The rabbi has told us that no one should come as anything, but I want to stress that if your child comes as Moby-Dick, my husband, Dr. Nagle, PhD, will bar your child from entering the Ultrazone Laser Tag.

Moby-Dick is a representation of nonbeing. If your child comes as Moby-Dick, you don’t understand the text, or Judaism for that matter.

Also, you can’t come as Ahab. Timothy is Ahab.

Party Features

Who’s the Ishmael?: One person will be chosen to survive the crushing consequences of our failure to understand God. You do not play this game; you merely exist. Winner gets a $25 gift card to Jamba Juice.

Everyone is Starbuck: My husband, Dr. Nagle, PhD, will take the mantle of Ahab from Timothy. He will then drive the Bar Mitzvah reception into chaos. He Will Answer To A Different Calling. We will lose all understanding of why we are here unless someone intervenes. Will you free the party from its projected demise, or will your Duty as a polite party guest bind your hands? The first person to pin my husband to the ground and claim control of the Bar Mitzvah will be given a $25 gift card to Jamba Juice.

Paper Boat Building (With a Fun Twist): I personally found twenty sheets of recycled paper. The children will build paper boats and have them set sail in a child’s pool I am borrowing from our neighbor.


Once the last boat is placed on the calm waters, Timothy’s Bubbe will be wheeled in by Uncle Gabriel. She will be our Elijah, a mad prophet who warns the children of the impending wreckage of their ships. The child who is able to submit to a higher authority and pull their boat from the water will receive a $25 gift card to Jamba Juice. The children who do not heed the prophet’s warning will watch me pour water on their paper boats. They will not receive a $25 gift card to Jamba Juice.

Electric Slide: We will do the electric slide.

Please feed your children before the service and reception, as we are not sure whether food is coming.

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Keith James’s hilarious new book, Greg Maxwell’s Inferno is out now.