13 too young to become a man, says Schwimmer

Jewish Telegraph, February 2020

INTELLIGENTSIA: David Schwimmer, right, with Nick Mohammed in Intelligence

ACTOR David Schwimmer believes boys should be barmitzvah at an older age.
The 53-year-old told Jewish singer Jessie Ware and her mother Lennie on their Table Manners podcast this week about his coming-of-age simcha in Los Angeles.
“I grappled with the idea later in life that as a 13-year-old boy that that was my passage into manhood,” said Schwimmer, who grew up in a “culturally Jewish household”.
“It’s a little young. It went well. I learned all my lines, I understood my Torah passage, I understood everything. but it didn’t have the meaning that I think it would as an older young man.”
The former Friends star added that the presents “left the worst taste in the mouth about the whole thing”.
He explained: “At that age, it’s just about a party. So, it’s a deal. What kid isn’t going to say, ‘yes, I’ll memorise all this if I get a big party and presents and cheques from relatives, of course’? I think something’s really lost.”
He revealed that his barmitzvah party had a magic theme with “roaming magicians and chocolate white rabbits on the table”.
But he added: “Let’s get real. It’s evolved into something that parents feel the pressure, the peer pressure, to compete with the rest of the synagogue, the rest of the congregation, the rest of the parents of the community to throw the great party.
“I think a lot is lost on the kids. It’s a missed opportunity.”
Schwimmer — whose new comedy, Intelligence, starts this week on Sky One — isn’t planning a batmitzvah for his daughter, Cleo.
“I’m not observant in that way,” he said. “That’s a personal decision.
“I wouldn’t insist on her doing that without her understanding what it is.
“If she wants one as a grown woman, once she’s educated and informed, that’s her decision.”
Intelligence, created by co-star Nick Mohammed, sees Schwimmer play pompous, maverick NSA agent Jerry Bernstein.

Jewish Telegraph deputy editor and arts editor. Email Mcohen@jewishtelegraph.com with your Jewish arts stories

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