If you have recently been invited to a bat or bar mitzvah service, you may have some questions. This is especially true if you are not Jewish!
A bat mitzvah and bar mitzvah service is an especially important time in a student’s life. So understanding the basic information behind this rite of passage can help you to make the most of it!
Want to learn more about what to expect at a bat or bar mitzvah service? Keep reading!
What Do “Bar Mitzvah” and “Bat Mitzvah” Mean?
Many people will say that they are going to a bar mitzvah, or that their friend is getting bat mitzvah’ed this weekend. But the truth is that bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah are not the names of events or actions, but people.
Bar mitzvah translates to “Son of the Commandment,” while bat mitzvah translates to “Daughter of the Commandment.” These words are what the boys and girls become, not the name of the party or service you attend.
What Does the Service Entail?
A bar mitzvah service will happen in the sanctuary of a synagogue around the time the child turns thirteen. It will normally take place on a Friday evening, Saturday morning, or Saturday evening. Most congregations do not have differing rules for when boys and girls can have their bat or bar mitzvah services.
Every congregation is different, but some events are relatively universal in Jewish tradition. The student will most likely read from the prayer book and the Torah scroll (spoken in Hebrew). Some students might also speak on a section of the Torah assigned that weekend, or about their Hebrew name.
What Should You Know as a Guest?
If you are not Jewish, there are some rules about how you can participate. If you are close to the student, you are allowed upon the bimah with the rabbi and student if you are a part of the service. However, you cannot be involved in passing the Torah.
If you are not directly involved in the service, you can sit and enjoy this beautiful ceremony! Congregations are very welcoming of non-Jews in the synagogue.
If you are having trouble understanding the Hebrew that is being read and spoken, some synagogues provide an English translation that you can read. Or the rabbi may offer information in English throughout the service to help you understand.
Because every congregation is different, it is best to talk to the student’s parents to learn what you should wear and what kinds of events you should expect after the service is complete. Many families will host an event.
Anything from a small luncheon to a large party can be expected. Be sure to bring a gift! Many people gift money, but if you are looking for other gift ideas, you can find some at thejerusalemportfolio.com.
Are You Ready to Attend a Bat or Bar Mitzvah Service?
A bat or bar mitzvah service is an incredibly important time for a student. If you have been invited to attend, then you have an opportunity to witness a part of Jewish culture!
While you may be nervous about making the right choices at a bat or bar mitzvah service, you do not need to be! Just come to the synagogue with a spirit of respect and listen to the instructions of the congregation members there.
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