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Bar Mitzvahs

What To Expect When Attending A Bar Mitzvah

Have you been invited to a Bar Mitzvah but are not really sure what to expect? It’s good that you are doing some research so that you have a basic understanding of the event and what is expected of you as a guest. This will go a long way in ensuring you are a respectful guest and also that you feel comfortable at the Bar Mitzvah. So, what exactly do you need to know?

Arrive Before The Starting Time

The time listed on the invitation is usually the time that the Shabbat service starts. If you have never been to a Bar Mitzvah before, you may read this as arrival time but with Bar Mitzvah’s this is not the case. It is best to arrive before the start of the service so that you are ready and settled when it actually begins.

Formal Attire Is Required

As a guest, you will be expected to wear dressy clothes. For men, this is usually slacks and a tie and jacket, or a full suit. Women are expected to wear a dress or formal pants, although more traditional communities frown upon women wearing pants.

Prayer Shawls Will Be Offered At The Service

A Bar Mitzvah is a sacred, religious rite of passage that begins with a service. Prayer shawls, or tallits, have four braided fringes at the corners to represent the Commandments of Judaism. Wearing a tallit is typically restricted to Jews however you may be offered one when you attend the service. It is perfectly acceptable to politely decline if you are not Jewish.

Men Will Wear Kippahs As A Sign Of Respect To God

A Kippah is a head covering and is worn by men as a sign of respect to God and the place of worship. There will often be a basket of Kippahs available at a service for males to wear. It is a sign of respect for men to wear one, even if you are not Jewish.

Pictures Are Not Permitted During The Service

Given the sacred nature of a Bar Mitzvah service, no photographs are allowed. It is also rude for guests to speak during the service or be on their mobile phones. Many families hire a professional photographer for the event so there will be plenty of images available.

You Should Follow Directions For Prayer

There will be times during the service when it is respectful for all attendees to sit or stand. Take note of what other people are doing to make sure you are doing the right thing. There will also be times where people bow however it is not a requirement for you to do so if you don’t feel comfortable.

There Is Usually A Party After The Service

Following the service, guests will be invited to a dinner and a separate party. Depending on the time of the service, the party may be straight away, or it may be later that night (after sundown).

Presents Are Given At The Party

It is a Bar Mitzvah custom for guests to bring a gift. Typically, these will be added to a gift table during the party and are most commonly money.


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