Bat Mitzvah Treasure Hunt

by Brian on November 14, 2005

in Jewish Holidays and Culture

Merav’s bat mitzvah had been going great…we’d finished the first round
of dancing and the guests had loaded up their plates with homemade
ravioli and teriyaki salmon. The bat mitzvah girl was beaming from all the
attention and we were generally feeling like everything was under
control and proceeding according to our carefully crafted plan.
Indeed, after all the months of organization leading up to the big day,
keeping the evening flowing was critical. There were speeches to give
and songs to sing, not to mention my world-famous PowerPoint
presentation to project.
Then my brother Dave stood up, took the microphone, and made an announcement to the assembled crowd.
“On your tables you will find several strips of paper,” he said with a
glimmer in his eye. “These are clues. They are part of a puzzle for you
to solve for Merav’s bat mitzvah.”
Murmurs immediately began gurgling forth.
“But let me give you a hint,” Dave continued. “You don’t have all the
pieces of the puzzle. You’re going to have to work together to solve
He promptly sat down…and total pandemonium broke loose.
None of this was new to Dave. He does this all the time for a living. His business Dr. Clue
runs team building activities focused on treasure hunts and puzzles for
corporations all over the world. But this was his first bat mitzvah and
none of us quite knew what to expect.
Within seconds, the room had exploded into a frenzy, with guests no
longer sitting nicely at their tables chatting about the stuffed
mushroom hors d’oeurves or the latest political pleasantries.

No, about
half the guests were running from table to table, swapping strips of
paper, while other members of each “team” were working out the riddles,
scribbling frantically on napkins.
Dave genially floated between the tables, offering help when needed and
generally marveling at what the influence of 35 twelve-year-old girls
can have on one of his Dr. Clue activities.
I sat back, took in the scene with no small amount of whimsy, and helped myself to some more ravioli.
The clues were all rebuses – word puzzles that involve the adding together of pictures and subtracting letters to create a final message.
Now for those of you who’d like to play along with the “home version” of
this game, here are the clues (the answer’s a little bit further down
on the page – now, no peeking!):
#1   + D +
#2   – J – N +  – BA
#3   –  +
#4   –  +
#5  +  – H +
#6   –  – S +
#7   – A +  – W – A +
#8   – FU +  – NEAT
#9   +
#10 – RE – + E + – GAN +
#11   –  +  – A +  – MANIC
#12  +   – CR +  – M – H +
#13   – C
#14  +  +
#15   –  + Z +
#16  – L + H
Did you get it?

It took about twenty minutes before the table #6 erupted in applause and excitement. “We got it! We got it!” they cheered.
“Now go do it!” my brother yelled back.
They looked dumbfounded for a moment before realizing that getting the
answer first didn’t mean they’d actually won anything but rather they had
another activity in front of them. Dave had conveniently provided each
table with paper and crayons.
The answer to the puzzle, in case you haven’t gotten it yet…

Wait for it…

I said, no peeking…

OK…here it is:
#1 – FIND
#2 – A PART
#3 – NER
#4 – OR
#5 – TWO AND
#6 – WORK
#8 – TO GIVE
#9 – MERAV
#10 – A POEM OR
#12 – ABOUT
#13 – HER
#14 – BAT
#15 – MITZ
#16 – VAH
Table #6 got busy, as did Table #8 and Table # 12, and before long, the poems and pictures started flowing.
After a few minutes, I took to the microphone myself and began inviting
up those tables who had something they wanted to share. I heard rhymes
for “Merav” I never dreamed of before. Such as:
There once was a young girl called Merav
Whose family showered her with love
Her Torah reading was hearty
So they threw her a party
Where the dancing and entertainment was so suave
There was also…
Merav reads books and has such good looks
She lains from the Torah and dances the Hora
She watches National Geographic and she’s so fantastic!
(If you’d like to send your own poem to Merav, you can leave it in the Comments section at the end of this blog post or send me an email.)

Afterwards, a number of people came up to us and said they’d never been
to a bat mitzvah party quite like this. I had to agree. We’d never been
to one like this either!
Indeed, if there was any downside it was that everyone was so busy,
they didn’t have time to go back and get seconds on the food. At the
end of the evening, the caterers presented us with nine large containers
of leftovers.
Looks like we’ll now be doing a treasure hunt through our fridge for homemade ravioli and salmon.
I want to give a big thanks and shout out to my brother: bat mitzvahs may be new but Dr. Clue
is the world leader in treasure hunt-based corporate team-building activities.
They’ve even put a couple of new hunts together for Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. If this sounds like something
your organization would enjoy as a fun and productive day out, contact Dave Blum directly at And tell him you heard about it here from This Normal Life!

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