Guide to a Successful Bar Mitzvah Ceremony
In the Jewish religion young men are considered to ‘come of age’ when they turn 13 years old. This coming of age symbolizes a newly found independence for the boy meaning that he can now take part in religious activities, fight in a war and remit taxes.
This transition essentially redeems the boy’s father of any responsibility for the religious conduct of the boy. Traditionally, the coming of age was not celebrated since the child would have been transitioning slowly over the 2 years before turning 13. At 13, the child is now allowed to wear tefillin and be called up to read the Torah. This state of ‘coming of age’ is referred to as bar mitzvah for boys and bat mitzvah for girls.
Planning a Bar Mitzvah Ceremony
Modern day influences have greatly impacted how a traditional bar mitzvah ceremony was performed. When planning your son’s ceremony, it is important to ensure that you follow the prescribed laws and guidelines that the ceremony embraces.
The Synagogue event
Every child has a tutor who guides their growth in the Jewish religion. When planning a bar mitzvah ceremony, consult regularly with the tutor to know the child’s progress. Similarly, the synagogue needs to be informed of these preparations so that they may guide the parents in planning for and executing the ceremony. The Torah is read publicly and the father of the child proclaims a blessing upon him. The child may also be required to recite a small passage during the ceremony. It is important to have both father and son adequately prepared for this.
Planning the reception
Ensure to buy enough kippots that male guests will use to cover their heads during the ceremony. Also print out a detailed guide for your guests to keep them in tune with the ceremony. Before the main day of the event, it is important to have the following things prepared;
- Save the dates and invitations: at least 2 months before, send out ‘save the dates’ and invitations to the proposed guests. This will help narrow down the actual number of guests who will attend
- Book and reserve service providers and venues: deepening on the season and event theme, make sure to book and reserve proposed venues and service providers at least 1 month before the ceremony. This will help keep things moving during the ceremony.
- Buy a tzedakah box: followers are expected to identify a charity to make donations or support once they are bar mitzvah. This is done by way of saving in a tzedakah box or charity box and surrendering the proceeds to the relevant charity group.
The candle lighting ceremony
As is tradition during bar mitzvah ceremony, the boy is expected to recite a few words with the guidance of his tutor and parents to go along with the candle lighting ceremony that symbolizes his transition. Work with the tutor to help your child come up with words that he is comfortable with at least 1 month before the ceremony. Have them recite and practice the words periodically and correct wherever necessary.