22 Oct Everything You Need To Know About A Bar Mitzvah
Bar and Bat Mitzvahs are big occasions for the Jewish children and are celebrated in style!
For those of you who don’t know ‘Bar’ is a Jewish Babylonian Aramaic word which literally means ‘son’ and ‘Bat’ means ‘daughter while ‘mitzvah’ translates to ‘commandment’ or ‘law’ so in a nutshell, means son or daughter who is subject to the law. According to Jewish law, when a boy reaches the age of 13, they become accountable for their actions. For a girl this varies from age 12 to 13 depending on whether they are Orthodox/Conservative Jews or Reform Jews. Prior to this age, the parents are responsible for the child’s actions but then after this age, the child is responsible for Jewish ritual law, tradition and ethics and can fully participate in all areas of Jewish life.
The ceremony is usually held on first Shabbat after the boy’s 13th or the girl’s 12th birthday. (Shabbat is a ‘rest day’ and begins a few minutes before sunset on a Friday and ends when three stars appear on Saturday evening).
After months of preparation by the child learning the mitzvahs and understanding what it means to be Jewish, the celebration begins in the synagogue. The boy is presented with his tefillin (black leather boxes containing parchment inscribed with biblical readings) by his proud parents and grandparents. These are worn around the head, arm and close to the heart.
After the ceremony, it’s time for the celebration. The venue and number of people attending obviously varies and a combination of adults and children is the usual way.
Some choose a theme – possibly something that the child loves, or particular colours for the decoration. Dinner is often a formal affair with speeches from the father and the child, but there should be some FUN!! After all, there will be lots of 13 year olds in attendance! Fun food is always a good idea for everyone – a chocolate fountain, cupcakes or even an ice cream van outside.
A cake is a must and usually matches the theme of the celebration and together with this is the traditional candle lighting ceremony. Candles are set around the cake and significant people in the life of the guest of honour are introduced and called forward to light one candle.
The ‘hora’ is the main event and the time when everyone can join in and start dancing. The guest of honour is raised high up onto a chair as the guests surround him or her. The Hora is a fast paced ‘happy’ dance and is the high point of any bar mitzvah.
Bearing in mind that there will be young people there, a DJ is always a good choice but the music is varied to suit the older generation and traditional Jewish music is also played. Novelty entertainment is very common and keeps the children occupied. Sports games, magicians, photo booth or a fun casino are very popular.
Cathy from Funky Casinos is always available for Bar Mitzvah events, please get in touch for more info!