A Non-Jewish Guest’s Guide to the Bar Mitzvah Ceremony

Today, around 43% of Jews live in Canada and the United States. If you live in one of these countries, there’s a good chance that you might be invited to a bar mitzvah ceremony.

You might wonder what to expect, what to do, and what’ll occur. Read this guide on what to expect at a bar mitzvah today.

What Is a Bar Mitzvah?

This is when a young Jewish person has become old enough to observe the 613 commandments of the Torah. Girls will perform a bat mitzvah at 12, while boys normally have their bar mitzvah at 13.

Before children can have this ceremony, they’ll need to study Jewish customs for about 5 years.

What To Wear

Bar mitzvahs are normally formal so you’ll want to dress up. Think about what you’d wear to a wedding. Suits for men, and formal dresses or pantsuits for women.

You might be required to wear a yarmulke when you’re in the synagogue. They’ll often provide those at the event free of charge.

For more traditional bar mitzvahs, women might need to wear dresses. Don’t wear clothing that has high skirt slits, shows cleavage, or bares your shoulders.

Women might need to wear a head covering. A lace doily is a common option.

You’ll pin them to the back of your head. They can often be found next to yarmulkes. Some locations will offer women a tallit, which is a prayer shawl.

What To Do During the Event

You’ll want to bring a gift to the event. You can click here to check out some great bar mitzvah/bat mitzvah gift ideas.

Turn off all electronic devices before the event. Don’t take photographs and stay silent as much as possible.

For Orthodox ceremonies, you’ll sit in a separate section from your spouse. Pay attention to when you’ll sit and stand with everyone else.

While the readings are in Hebrew, you can follow along in the prayer book (Siddur). Prayer books often have both English and Hebrew. There’s also a thick book that’ll have the Torah reading in both English and Hebrew.

Bar Mitzvah Ceremony Length

The child will take the stage and read from the Haftorah. Once this is read, the child will give a short speech. They’ll then receive a gift from the congregation.

After the ceremony, will be a reception. It’ll begin with a prayer, and then the traditional Jewish circle dance will occur. You can join in the fun!

There might be chair lifting of the parents and the child. You can help with this part of the reception.

What To Expect During a Bar Mitzvah Ceremony

After exploring this guide, you should have a better idea of what to expect during a bar mitzvah ceremony. If you have any questions before the event, reach out to your Jewish friends.

Would you like to read more informative and educational content? Be sure to check out our other articles today!