A Bar Mitzvah is a significant milestone often laden with formal traditions and ritual processes that have to be practiced throughout the event. It is a celebration or rite of passage that indicates when a young boy is deemed an adult in the Jewish faith. The same goes for young girls who ascend into young-womanhood. It’s called a Bat Mitzvah.
The Importance of a Bar/Bat Mitzvah
This coming-of-age celebration serves as a way of indicating an increase in responsibility, eligibility to publicly form part of Jewish religious practices, and other formal events. After performing a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, the young man or woman is deemed a member of the community and is treated as such.
For an event planner doing their first Bar Mitzvah (or Bat Mitzvah), these types of events might seem daunting. But if you follow a pre-planned program, you’ll be just fine. And of course, if you use ThymeBase, you can loop in your clients, other vendors, and even the Rabbi with our event planning team functionality.
A Note On The Varied Customs
The customs around Bnei Mitzvah (the term for both boy and girl coming-of-age celebrations) can range from very religious to entirely secular events. However, often the celebration contains a mix of both. It’s important to talk to your clients and avoid assumptions. Customs can vary by family, so ask questions. And if your clients are not religious but want to incorporate traditional aspects, local synagogues will often be happy to help.
The more religious your clients, the more likely they’ll be able to offer clarity around the event timeline, including blessings, prayers, and dancing. Also, in smaller Jewish communities, they’ll often have a preferred caterer known for their kosher menu.
The Absolute Basics of Bar Mitzvah Event Planning
Before preparing anything, you should be in constant contact with your client at all times (like with client portals). The client is in charge of choosing a date, a theme, and general input into the creative aspects of the event.
To prepare yourself for the Bar Mitzvah, you should:
Get the Client’s Requirements
- Get a good idea of what the client is looking for in decor, food/drinks, and venue. This can range from small gatherings to grand ballrooms, depending on family customs.
- If the client is unsure about what to include or exclude, be sure to get advice. The family’s local synagogue will be an excellent resource for religious guidance or reach out to the local Chabad.
Choose a Date and Venue
- The venue of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah might be the most important choice. It implicates how many guests can attend when the event can occur and how much of the budget you should allocate.
- When a suitable event has been found, confirm the date with the client. Have alternative options in case the venue or date is not accommodating.
- Traditionally Bar/Bat Mitzvah services are held at synagogues. However, modern celebrations are held just about anywhere.
Create a Guest List and Invitations
- Usually provided by the client, your guest list should be concise and updated frequently so that no one is left out.
- Many bar mitzvahs have a service at a synagogue and the reception elsewhere. That information should be included in the invites.
- When creating an invitation, you can ask your client whether gifts or +1’s are allowed or encouraged.
- The invitations can consist of a list of event proceedings, which helps attendees stay on track of what has happened and will happen during the event.
Choose Vendors, or Decide on the Catering
- These events usually have large amounts of guests.
- Discuss the arrangements with your client and whether you will solely be serving kosher foods or if you should include non-kosher foods as well.
- The choice of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, or both, should be made by the client.
- You can either:
- Cater to the food and drinks yourself;
- Use specialized vendors;
- Make use of the venue’s restaurant or catering services.
- Enquire about whether the choice of a buffet is appropriate, or if food and drinks should be served by waitstaff.
- Ensure that you have taken care of all prior arrangements with the client, venue, vendors, and staff, and double-check everything up until the day of the celebration.
- Once you are confident in your preparations, you can host the event with minimal setbacks.
Order of Events For A Bar Mitzvah
Bar and Bat Mitzvahs traditionally follow a specified order of events. Still, they have become more lenient with regards to how thoroughly these events are practiced. Bar Mitzvahs usually proceed as follows:
- The family and close friends arrive to take photographs, in the following order:
- direct family;
- related family members;
- close friends.
- During the pictures, other guests can mingle in the venue’s foyer, reception area, or in front of the venue.
- After that, the guests can be allowed inside, which indicates that the festivities are commencing. After a selection of songs is played, the guests can find their seats.
- The master of ceremonies, or the MC, can give a short speech welcoming the guests and describing the order of events.
- Clients often request that a montage or video of the guest of honor be played, whereafter the young man or girl can be introduced and made known to the guests.
- From this point on, the event is most likely going to follow a procession of traditions.
- A candle-lighting ceremony used to honor the deceased and attendees;
- Speeches by family members and close friends;
- A speech by the guest of honor; and
- The breaking and serving of challah bread and wine, which is blessed beforehand;
- Dancing, often traditional Jewish dances like the Hora.
- After the Hora, challah, and wine ceremony, meals can be served to the guests.
- Following the dinner, the dance floor is opened again, and guests are allowed to celebrate the festivities.
- Close to the end of the event, it is typical for the guest of honor to have a final dance with their parents.
- The event gradually comes to an end, as guests start to leave and children receive party favors.
A Broad Range Of Customs
These types of events are often practiced differently because of the client’s personal preferences. Still, if you become accustomed to the standard layout, you can become adept at planning and hosting them. Naturally, you should be open to suggestions and changes in proceedings, as you are working with a religious milestone event. Regardless, you should still prepare for it as with any other occasion.
If you find it challenging to keep track of your Bar Mitzvah Preparations and their happenings, ask the Thymebase team for their Bar/Bat Mitzvah template.