A bar/bat mitzvah is a rite of passage for young boys of Jewish faith. A bar/bat mitzvah is when a boy or girl has reached the age of 13 and becomes accountable for his actions as a man or woman. He/She also becomes eligible to take part in public religious worship and observe religious precepts. “Bar mitzvah” means “son of commandment”. “Bat Mitzvah” means “daughter of commandment”. So what happens at a bar mitzvah party?
A bar / bat mitzvah party is usually a lavish affair that follows the religious ceremony. They are traditionally been very large and elaborate parties attended by the friends and family of the child who is celebrating their bar mitzvah.
The reception is usually held at a large event space that can accommodate all the guests. It’s a time to eat, drink, dance, celebrate and socialize. However, there is a sequence of events when it comes to a bar/bat mitzvah party!
Traditionally, a bar/bat mitzvah will start with the master of ceremonies introducing the family. The celebrator of the bar/bat mitzvah comes after this. It’s a fun and formal way to kick off the festivities.
Some bar/bat mitzvahs will even have themes. It’s not uncommon to have sports or other themes be totally incorporated into the decorations and festivities.
Next comes the candle lighting. The child who is celebrating his or her mitvah calls up one’s family. Then light candles that will be placed on the cake. The first candle to be lit is done in the memory of family members who have passed on. Sometimes the child will choose to read a short statement or poem about each individual member of his family.
Before everyone sits down to dinner, a family member will recite the traditional Ha-motzi, a prayer and blessing. The eldest member of the family recites the Ha-motzi over challah bread, honoring God as well as the child being celebrated. The challah is then sliced and passed around to be shared.
After eating, it’s tradition at a bar mitzvah for the child to have a special dance with one’s mother. This is a special part of the coming of age process and is often a fond memory for the parent. Everyone watches as the child and parent have a dance set to music together.
Don’t forget to wear your dancing shoes! For a Jewish simcha celebration), dancing is almost always involved. The horah may be done– you’ll simply have to hold hands with people and dance in a circle. It’s great fun, and anyone can do it. This dance also traditionally involves hoisting the hosts and family into the air on a chair. The lifting of the chair represents being closer to a spiritual place. It also symbolizes people not being able to do anything without the support of others. A toast is then made after the horah(or sometimes before) by the parents, thanking everyone for coming and taking part in the celebration.
You can also expect to give gifts, as well. Money is a traditional and acceptable gift that will always work well. A Benjamin (or a couple) placed inside a nice card is a thoughtful gift, as are savings bonds. Some like to give bonds that are a multiple of 18 as it is a favorable number.
Eventually, the festivities wind down, and the day is over. A lot happens at a bar / bat mitzvah party, and at the end of the day, a boy is now a man and a girl is now a woman. Just make sure you have your most comfortable shoes on for dancing, bring a gift, and enjoy the celebration!