Adina Buchs, a Bar Mitzvah party planner in Israel, shares the following Bar Mitzvah Tips with YJS readers:
The Bar Mitzvah Setting
The bar mitzvah ceremony is most often conducted in a synagogue setting and, depending on the day of the week, usually includes some combination of having the bar mitzvah boy put on “tefillin”, be called to the Torah, read from the Torah, lead part of the prayer service, or deliver a speech. The Jewish prayer service and Torah reading are usually held with a quorum of ten people. In orthodox settings (and at the Western Wall) only men are included in the quorum, and men & women are seated separately.
Where do you stand on this issue? Is mixed seating important to you? Do you wish for the women in your party to take an active role in the service/ceremony? If so, it is important to choose a setting where this will be possible.
People who are familiar with the service and know how they wish to conduct their ceremony may choose not to have a Rabbi preside at their bar mitzvah. Others prefer to have a Rabbi to lead them and to lend formality to the occasion.
Will you want someone to conduct the bar mitzvah for you? If you choose a Rabbi, with which affiliation do you feel most comfortable? Is there someone particular you have in mind or do you need assistance finding the right person? Would you and perhaps your bar mitzvah boy like to meet with the Rabbi before the event?
The Bar Mitzvah Torah reading
A portion from the Torah is read every Shabbat (Saturday), and a much smaller portion on Mondays and Thursdays. Sometimes additional Torah readings will be held on different weekdays due to special occasions in the Jewish calendar. The Torah is read from a parchment scroll, traditionally with special incantation. Some bar mitzvah boys learn to read their portion from the Torah. This requires study and practice. Others learn to recite the blessings and are “called to” the Torah as it is being read.
Will your bar mitzvah boy be reading from the Torah? If so, it is vital to make sure that you know which portion is being read in Israel on the date of your bar mitzvah (This can be different than what is read in the Diaspora). Make sure to leave enough time for preparation.
The Bar Mitzvah prayer service
Reading from the Torah is only part of the Morning Prayer service. This service usually follows a prescribed format as set out in prayer books.
Are you &/or your guests accustomed to a particular prayer book? If so, it is important to arrange a large enough supply of these books for all of your guests. If you wish, you may include some English passages in your service.
From bar mitzvah age on, one may fulfill the commandment of putting on tefillin (Phylacteries). This act is often included in the bar mitzvah ceremony as one way of marking the child’s coming of age. Frequently, tefillin are purchased for the bar mitzvah boy. When this is not the case, tefillin can be obtained for use during the ceremony/prayer service.
Would you like to include tefillin in your ceremony, with an appropriate explanation? Will you require a loan of tefillin or do you intend to buy them for your bar mitzvah boy?
Other aspects of the Bar Mitzvah ceremony
There are several additional customs often found in a bar mitzvah ceremony: You may wish to honor certain of your guests by allowing them to play an active role in the service, or by calling them to the Torah. Some people throw candies at the bar mitzvah boy after he is called to the Torah. (This is a symbolic way of wishing him a sweet life). Often the bar mitzvah boy or somebody else is requested to deliver a short sermon.
Be sure to think about these possibilities. If anybody will be speaking at the ceremony it is a good idea to consider when would be the most appropriate point in the ceremony for this to take place.
Perhaps you have something else in mind which you wish to include? Many things, even if not an inherent part of the ceremony, may be smoothly incorporated within. It is worthwhile to air your thoughts with those helping you to create this special event.
MAZAL TOV ON YOUR BAR MITZVAH!
You can find Adina at:http://www.broshaket.com
cell phone: 972-52-3803048