When it comes to a bar or bat mitzvah, what are they and what happens? If you’re of Jewish faith, you likely already know the answer. This type of ritual is a rite of passage for a boy or girl of the Jewish faith that has reached the age of 13. They are now adults and ready to accept the responsibility of a grown man or woman. They also can observe religious precepts and become eligible for public religious worship.
The word “Bar Mitzvah” translates to son of commandment, while Bat Mitzvah means the daughter of commandment. A Bar or Bat Mitzvah involves a religious ceremony and then a party afterwards. The mitzvah party planning is usually extensive and they are large parties that are held at receptions big enough to accommodate friends and family of the celebrating child– now adult!
This is a time to eat and drink, to dance, to socialize, and to celebrate the achievement of the young guest of honor. They are a combination of structure and unstructured celebrating. A Mitzvah will usually start with an M.C. that introduces the individual being honored and their family.
These types of parties even have themes, with the theme being incorporated into decor and even activities. There is lots to do at this party because typically special things are rented out such as photo booths and even fireworks at the end (it’s happened)!
The candle lighting is a time when the one celebrating their mitzvah calls up their family and candles are placed on the cake to remember family members who have passed. The now adult may choose to read something talking about their family or faith. Then the Ha-motzi prayer and blessing is recited by the oldest family member over challah bread, honoring God and the one being celebrated. Everyone sits down to dinner and the challah is sliced and passed round the room.
After dinner, it’s time for a mother dance if a bar mitzvah and a father dance if it is a bat mitzvah to celebrate the coming of age process and have a special moment between the parent and child at this stage in life and momentous occasion. It is much like a wedding in that way!
You may find yourself dancing up a storm at the mitzvah, so bring your most comfortable formal wear shoes. Especially with a Jewish celebration, there is always dancing. They will do the horah, where you hold hands and just dance in a circle. It’s easy to do and frequently done where the hosts and family are thrust into the air on a chair, just like in the movies. It symbolizes being closer to a spiritual place and not being able to do anything when you are not supported by others.
A toast is customarily made by the parents where they thank everyone for coming and celebrating. Bring a gift, whether money or something thoughtful, for the child and now adult that is being celebrated as is accustomed, eat, drink, dance and laugh! It’s a celebration!