Epstein School student Marion Kogon made her October bat mitzvah weekend a special series of smaller events in contrast to the mega gala originally planned. Mother Sara recalled, “We started on Marion’s bat mitzvah well before COVID. We have a large family and were planning to host a whole weekend of festivities at the InterContinental [Buckhead] Hotel, where we were married. When COVID hit, we had to pivot!
“Planning a simcha in the middle of a pandemic can be hectic, especially when you had envisioned a huge, fun, celebratory weekend. We made the best of it with smaller festivities throughout the weekend.”
The Saturday morning service was at the Ahavath Achim Synagogue with Rabbi Laurence Rosenthal and Rabbi Sam Blustin. Marion was the third generation to have the Bereishit parshah alongside grandfather Marty Kogon and dad Ross.
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In her d’var Torah, Marion spoke about how, before COVID, people took too many things for granted as opposed to her newer appreciation for even the small things.
Her parents’ charge to her was focused on the “to do list for life” that she wrote at age 10:
1. Make women’s rights all around the world
2. Create a professional women’s softball team
3. Solve Atlanta’s parking problems
4. Make it to the NBA
5. Make people believe in unicorns.
Marion’s mitzvah project was Creating Connected Communities, which provides life-enhancing programs to children in need by empowering teens to become engaged volunteers. She created over 100 packages with toys, activity kits and school supplies.
The Kogons worked with Tara Kornblum of Bluming Creativity.
Sara said, “Tara must have planned and replanned this event four times. She worked with the hotel to negotiate various contracts, then helped us manage cancellation of existing contracts and planned the new event. We wanted to have a celebration in a very safe way and decided on an outdoor carnival with food trucks. Tara worked with Factory Atlanta in Chamblee to use their parking lot – never done before.” Sara noted that Kornblum saved them stress while they were homeschooling four children in the spring of 2020.
The details began with artistic Marion designing her logo, starting with pastels and then creating a carnival twist. Sara said, “It was important to feel Marion’s personality while being young and feminine. The central piece of the décor was huge white letters ‘Marion.’”
Monte Carlo Productions set up the carnival and provided a sanitizing team that wiped down the games after each person played. The Kogons wanted safety to be first and foremost. Everyone was asked to wear a mask at all times.
The games were virtual skiing, skee-ball, a life-size Operation game, carnival ring toss, strong man, tricycles in a course – a huge hit – plus a dance floor. The food was fun and plentiful.
Raising the Bar, a mobile bar truck, was fully stocked with wine, beer and liquor. The signature drink for the adults was apple spiced bourbon, and for the kids, a Marion-tini (Shirley Temple).
Other food trucks were
Willy’s – nachos, quesadillas, burritos;
Flatbread Bistro – assorted vegetarian pizza, macaroni and cheese;
Bishoku – sushi boxes (vegetarian, California roll, spicy tuna);
YummY’s Funnel Cakes – ice cream, fried oreos;
Ash Sweet Creations – candy bar – color-themed candies with logo;
Cakeology – cake pops.
Having fun with fashion, Sara exclaimed, “I have always been into matching kids’ outfits, so I wanted to make sure that all of our outfits were color-coordinated. I wore a white jumpsuit and comfortable wedge sneakers. Ross and his brother Michael are very into wearing costumes and decided to match in cosmic-themed suits. The bright purple/magenta colors coordinated with the party theme. These outfits were a big hit!”
Marion donned two outfits: a white party dress paired with a denim jacket and matching Nike Air Force sneakers. She changed into a black jumpsuit for dancing and game playing.
The lineup was Shabbat dinner at Judy and Marty Kogon’s (Added Touch Catering), Saturday backyard Kiddush (Breadwinner Café), Sunday brunch theme “Spacecats,” all in addition to the carnival night.
Sara has no regrets. “I only wish that we could have had all of our friends and family there. We just had to keep the party small due to health and safety concerns. My parents Naomi and Jeff Stonberg were able to fly in from Boston, which made it special along with Judy and Marty – all four grandparents!”