Bar and Bat Mitzvahs 101


So you or your child has been invited to a bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah. If you’ve never been to one before, you may be wondering what to expect and how to act. Since we specialize in planning mitzvahs, we wanted to share answers to some common questions about the mitzvah experience and mitzvah etiquette. If you’re planning a mitzvah, we invite you to share this information with your guests.

How Do I Dress?

Unless you’re given specific instructions about dress in the invitation, you should wear dress clothes to a mitzvah. Men usually wear suits or dress shirts, slacks and ties. Women typically wear either dresses or dressy pantsuits.

Do I Bring a Gift?

Invited guests typically bring a gift for the person celebrating their bar or bat mitzvah. Acceptable gifts include money, jewelry, art, books or other gifts similar to what you would give to a young person on their birthday or at graduation. The number 18 and its multiples are considered good luck so an easy gift is to give a gift of money in multiples of $18.  There is typically a gift table for gifts at the mitzvah, or at the reception following the mitzvah if the ceremony is held at a synagogue.

What Should I Expect and What’s Expected of Me?

The bar or bat mitzvah is a major event in the life of a Jewish family marking a significant milestone for the young person. The child works for years to prepare for the celebration, then their family decides how to honor the occasion, who to share it with, and where to hold the event. Although traditionally held in synagogues, more families today choose to hold mitzvahs in private venues.

Regardless of where the mitzvah is held, the ceremonial portion of the celebration should be treated with the same respect as any religious service. Turn off your cell phone and other electronic devices, listen quietly, stand and sit when instructed and when those around you do, and pay attention to the ceremony. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of time to celebrate and have fun at the reception that follows.

The party or reception that follows the religious ceremony will typically include speeches, food, drinks, music, dancing and lots of fun. Many modern mitzvahs have creative themes that cater to the younger generation. For example, we’ve planned mitzvahs with themes that focus on everything from sports to candy trucks.

Are There Words I Need to Know?

If the bar or bat mitzvah is held on a Friday night or Saturday, you may be greeted with “Shabbat shalom!”  which means “Sabbath of Peace!” You may reply “Shabbat shalom!” or simply “Shalom!” If you wish to congratulate the parents or the young person celebrating their mitzvah, you may say “Mazal tov!”

Successful Affairs Loves to Plan Mitzvahs

If your child will soon be celebrating their bar or bat mitzvah, and you need the expertise of a NYC event planner that specializes in mitzvahs, we’d love to help. We’ll work with you to find a unique theme that fits your child’s personality. Then we’ll help to plan every detail so your event evokes fond memories for years to come. Give us a call now at 212-684-6402. It’s never too early to start planning a mitzvah!

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