A bar or bat mitzvah is a once-in-a-lifetime event for a 12-year-old or 13-year-old child. It’s also a sign of coming to adulthood in Judaism.
Thus, it is an honor to get an invitation to one! This is a beautiful opportunity to watch a preteen go up to the Torah and become an adult in the eyes of Jewish law.
If you’ve never been to a bar mitzvah before, you might not have a clue about bar or bat mitzvah etiquette. What do you give as a gift? What should you wear?
If you need a beginner’s guide to bar/bat mitzvah etiquette, then keep reading.
What Should You Wear to a Bar Mitzvah?
This mainly depends on which Jewish denomination the bar/bat mitzvah belongs to, as well as the synagogue. In general, attire for bar/bat mitzvah guests should be very modest and respectful.
At most events, men wear a suit or slacks, tie, and jacket while women wear a dress, skirt, or formal pantsuit. If the bar/bat mitzvah is held at a traditional or orthodox synagogue, women should not wear pants and should put on a sweater or shawl if their shoulders are uncovered.
Once the party starts at the end of the service, you can be as fun with your outfit as you want. In both scenarios, check the dress code in the invitation to make sure.
Bar/Bat Mitzvah Etiquette in a Synagogue
In all denominations, men should wear their own kippah and tallit or ones that the synagogue will provide. During services, some courtesies you should perform include:
- Don’t speak loudly during prayers or sermons
- Turn your cell phone off
- Don’t take pictures
You should try to follow along with the service in the prayer books provided inside the sanctuary. You can also sit and stand during the appropriate times when others are doing so.
What Gifts are Appropriate for a Bar Mitzvah?
Everyone loves receiving gifts and a bar mitzvah is a great time to give them. Whether it’s a traditional or modern gift, it will be very appreciated as a great way to commemorate the occasion.
Here are some gifts that are appropriate to give at a bar/bat mitzvah.
When it comes to giving traditional judaica as a bar mitzvah gift, you cannot go wrong. For boys, you should give a kippah, tallit, or personalized prayer books. For girls, judaica jewelry is beautiful and sentimental.
When gifting money, you should give $18 or multiples of $18 since 18 corresponds numerogically to the word “chai”, meaning “life”. It can be a personal gift or designated toward the recipient’s college education.
Israel Bonds are also a popular choice. Many investment firms like The Jerusalem Portfolio will help you set up a bond account as a gift for the bar mitzvah. You can learn more about the firm at www.thejerusalemportfolio.com.
In the Jewish tradition, it is considered appropriate to give back during a happy occasion. That’s why great gift options can be either gift certificates for something you know the bar mitzvah will enjoy or a donation to a charity organization.
In any case, you should only give the gift at the party or reception, not the synagogue service. Most parties will have a gift table or other place designated for any gifts given to the teen.
Conduct the Right Bar or Bat Mitzvah Etiquette
A bar/bat mitzvah is a special occasion in Jewish cultural life. It can be hard to know exactly what to do for bar or bat mitzvah etiquette if you have never experienced it before.
If you use the tips above, you will fit right in. Now, go say “Mazel tov!” and immerse yourself in this special time.
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