Bar & Bat Mitzvah 

As a Jewish child matures, we mark their passage from childhood to adulthood with the Bar or Bat Mitzvah. These are celebrated with beautiful rituals and inspiring customs. Israel's Judaica can help with all your learning and planning needs. Whether a small intimate service or a grand party, Israel's can see you through from beginning to end. Contact your personal shopper for more gift ideas..

 

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All About Bar & Bat Mitzvah

 

Becoming Bar Mitzvah

Becoming Bat Mitzvah

Bar & Bat Mitzvah Preplanning

Party Planning Tips

 

Mazal Tov!  

As a Jewish child comes of age, we recognize them and their new abilities  as becoming “Bar Mitzvah” (for boys) or “Bat Mitzvah” (for girls). This translates as “one to whom commandments apply.” It is at this point that a child becomes obligated to perform commandments that the Torah sets forth for adults. 
 
Before they become Bar & Bat Mitzvah, children are not obligated to perform Mitzvot (literally, “commandments”) but should be educated and encouraged to perform Mitzvot in anticipation of their Bar/Bat Mitzvah.  When a boy turns thirteen years of age and a girl turns twelve, they are now capable of participating in services and community celebrations in a deeper way. It is an inspiring time for these young adults, a time that is meant to propel them into a fulfilling life of Jewish living. 
 
Becoming Bar Mitzvah
Becoming Bar Mitzvah is an exciting and moving time for young men. For some boys, it is the first time that they come into contact with a rabbi or Jewish spiritual guide. For others very familiar with Jewish practice, the prospect of performing Mitzvot is exhilarating and they want very much to participate in ritual.  The public reognition that goes along with a Bar Mitzvah is very exciting for young men and they feel a sense of accomplishment and maturity.
 
The Bar Mitzvah is not only a spiritual rite of passage, but social a one as well. Boys begin to put on Tefillin (phylacteries) and (in Orthodoxy and Conservative Judaism), are obligated to pray three times daily. The boy can now participate in a Minyan (prayer quorum of 10 men) and can be counted on to complete it. This instills in him a greater sense of community and closeness to his family. Bar Mitzvah entitles a boy to count as a witness, be a part of binding contracts, testify in religious court, marry, and lead prayer services. 
 
While a boy becomes Bar Mitzvah automatically (no celebration is necessary) a first rite of passage is usually being called to the Torah during services.  The boy blesses the Torah and can read from the Torah or Haftarah. However, they are not obligated to read and can simply make the blessing. The judaica necessary for this ritual are Tefillin, Tallit, and a silver Yad (pointer, for reading from text or blessings).
If a boy and his family choose, he can read a small or large portion of the Torah or Haftarah. The reading of these texts (available at Israel's The Judaica Centre) is done in traditional chant  which the Bar Mitzvah boy must learn.
 
This preparation must begin rather early for the child to learn it all correctly and feel relatively comfortable with. Some rabbis and communities prefer for the child to begin learning the Trope (chant) after their twelfth birthday. It is also at this point that families often begin to plan the celebratory party for the boy’s becoming Bar Mitzvah. Some families prefer smaller celebrations, a big kiddush or a small party at home. Other families prefer large celebrations. See our tips below on how to make planning easy, whatever the size of your simcha. We also wish to make gift-giving easy for those unfamiliar with Bar & Bat Mitzvah ceremonies and parties. Gifts such as books and personalized Judaica (Kiddush cup or embossed book) are great ideas that are unique and fairly easy to assemble. Back to Top of Page
 
Becoming Bat Mitzvah
A girl, when she turns twelve years of age, becomes a Bat Mitzvah automatically (no celebration is necessary). Girls become responsible for performing applicable Mitzvot earlier than boys because they mature earlier. Many denominations recognize a Bat Mitzvah in different ways. Orthodoxy allows girls to prepare and read a Dvar Torah (literally, “words of Torah”) at a feast following synagogue services. A party is sometimes prepared for the girl to be recognized as a Bat Mitzvah within her community. At these parties, there is usually a feast with music and the girl prepares a speech.
 
Ceremonies marking a girl’s Bat Mitzvah have become more popular in modern times, often putting the Bat Mitzvah on the same level of importance as a boy’s Bar Mitzvah. In 1922, Reconstructionist Judaism recognized its first public Bat Mitzvah. This paved the way for Bat Mitzvah recognition in almost every denomination of Judaism. Reconstructionist, Reform and most Conservative congregations have egalitarian services in which a girl can chant Torah or lead services. If a girl is to learn a Torah portion, rabbis and community leaders usually prefer that she start learning her portion and chanting early (sometimes a year before her Bat Mitzvah). It is also at this point that a family begins planning any celebrations for her Bat Mitzvah. Please see our planning help list below. We also wish to make gift-giving easy for those unfamiliar with Bar & Bat Mitzvah ceremonies and parties. Gifts such as books and personalized Judaica (Kiddush cup or embossed book) are great ideas that are unique and fairly easy to assemble.Back to Top_of_Page
 
  Bar & Bat Mitzvah Pre-Planning 
 
 
  • Decide on a synagogue or Temple for services

  • Meet with rabbis who might suit your family’s spiritual philosophy, if you do not have one already.

  • Sign up for and begin Torah chanting lessons.

  • Coach and learn the boy or girl’s portion with them. It helpful to review and be a part of their process.

  • Speak with the synagogue about sponsoring a Kiddush or a luncheon after the Bar/Bat Mitzvah services. Review budget and food options.

  • Order kippot for the simcha ( at least six to eight weeks before.

  • Order benchers (blessings after meals booklets), if necessary.

  • For a Bar Mitzvah boy, get fitted for a pair of Tefillin and, if necessary, a Tallit. It is good to buy a case for Tefillin and/or Tallit. As a gift to a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, a silver yad could be considered and used for rehearsals.

  • Send out invitations.

  • Buy appropriate clothing for the big event.

  • Confirm your number of guests for catering at the Kiddush.

  • Discuss and help your child write a Dvar Torah, to be given after services or at the Kiddush.

  • Buy candies for throwing at the Bar/Bat Mitzvah after the child’s Aliyah (calling up to the Torah).

  • Order or buy flowers and decorations for the synagogue, if necessary. Centrepieces for the tables or luncheon could be nice additions.

  • Though it may be a busy time, try to spend a little quite time with immediate family before the big event. Being centered for both the Bar or Bat Mitzvah boy or girl can be important.

  • Relax, have fun and Shep Nachas (loosely, “beam with pride”)! Back to Top_of_Page

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Party Planning Tips
  • Based on your child’s birthday and Bar or Bat Mitzvah service, choose potential dates for the party.
  • Put together a budget and wish-list for the party. Big or small? 3 guests or 300?
  • Decide on a location and date.
  • If necessary, send out “Save the date” notices to out of town guests.
  • Contact caterers (if necessary) and consider menus or special requests that you might have for the meal.
  • Book a photographer and/or videographer, if necessary.
  • Create a guest list.
  • Choose and order invitations. Keep thank you notes in mind as well.
  • Decide on the type of music that you would like to have for the party. Would you prefer a DJ or a band, Jewish music or contemporary music, etc.? Book shortly thereafter.
  • Consider decoration options and write a wish-list.
  • If you would like, discuss options with florists and decide if flowers are a part of your simcha. If so, book a florist and order necessary arrangements.
  • Learn about any traditions that you might want to incorporate into the party.
  • Find appropriate accommodations for out of town guests and, if possible, set aside blocks of rooms.
  • Address and send out invitations. Don’t forget to include any hotel information or special transportation information.
  • Decide on a baker and a Bar/Bat Mitzvah cake.
  • Get an approximate number of guests and follow up with guests who have not replied.
  • Order benchers, if necessary.
  • Order party favors for guests, if you would like. Good ideas are keychains, chocolates, nicely bound benchers, or pens.
  • Discuss and help your child write a Dvar Torah or a speech, to be given during dinner or dessert.
  • Order wine or liquor, if necessary.
  • Prepare toasts or candle lighting (for the cake) for family and friends and inform them that they will be called on. Prepare any speeches you might want to make.
  • Get a final head count and confirm your numbers with the caterer.
  • Decide on a play list for your music.
  • Create a seating plan, if necessary. Write out place cards.
  • Give seating chart to the caterer.
  • Confirm location, date and necessary payments with photographers, DJs, bands, florists, etc.
  • Spend some quiet time with family to ground everybody.
  • Relax, have fun and Shep Nachas (loosely, “beam with pride”)! Back to Top_of_Page