You’re starting to think about your son’s Bar Mitzvah… but if you’ve never planned a Bar Mitzvah before, the planning process can be quite daunting. It’s tempting to type “Bar Mitzvah planning” into Google, however if you do that you will find loads and loads of sites that, at the end of the day, are portals for vendors – but you’re not ready to go down that route yet! If you want some quick and easy tips to guide you as you start your Bar Mitzvah planning, this is the place to look – and I’ve made your life just a bit easier by providing some links to helpful resources.
1. Start well in advance. The longer you have to think and plan before you actually need to commit to anything, the more prepared and confident you will be. You can start thinking about your son’s bar mitzvah a year and a half before!
2. Be organized: Buy a notebook for keeping your planning and research notes, and a folder for keeping any prospects, price quotations, handouts etc.
3. Download a Bar Mitzvah planning timetable to help you keep to a reasonable schedule. For a free planning timetable, email us (you don’t need to register with our site!)
4. Do your research: What is a Bar Mitzvah? How do you want to celebrate a Bar Mitzvah? What different ways or style can one celebrate a Bar Mitzvah? http://judaism.about.com/od/lifeevents/a/whatisabarmitzvah.htm
5. Content! Since you started well in advance, you have time to think about the actual content of the Bar Mitzvah. Remember, your child is becoming a functioning member of the Jewish community. Ask yourself what this means to you, what does it mean to him? How do you want this to be reflected in the Bar Mitzvah itself? Remember, Bar Mitzvah isn’t just the party; it is the process in which the child will grow in Jewish awareness and commitment. What do you want your Bar Mitzvah son to come away with? http://www.aish.com/jl/l/48956006.html , http://www.areyvut.org/
6. The Bar Mitzvah often consists of the service in the Synagogue/Temple, and the party in a different location. Think about which local Synagogue/Temple you identify with, and contact them to talk about dates.
7. Set a date for the ceremony and the party. The date is based around your son’s Hebrew birthday. Make sure that the date you set doesn’t clash with any holidays. To find out your child’s Hebrew birthday check out http://www.chabad.org/calendar/birthday_cdo/aid/6228/jewish/Jewish-Birthday.htm
8. What is your budget and then draw up a guest list. I found this, but have never used it, but it looks helpful http://www.evite.com/app/party/calculator/view.do
9. What type of event do you want? Morning, afternoon, night? Weekday, shabbat, festival? Intimate, big? Etc. Once again, speak to friends about the advantages and disadvantages of each of these.
11. Find mentors for you! You’re nearly ready to think about vendors, themes, center pieces, mitzvah projects etc! Speak to friends who have “been there done that” to find out who they would recommend. Ask them for tips and pointers, and also ask them what mistakes they made or what to avoid. Here is where online forums are useful. There are whole virtual communities of Bar Mitzvah parents at different stages of their simcha for you to connect with (just google it!)! If you’re in the NY area, you can get consultation services from http://www.jlifeconsulting.com
12. Decide how your son will learn his portion. You can find out from your Synagogue/Temple who they recommend, or if they have a formal learning program. You can also ask friends for references for good teachers.
13. Bar Mitzvah course: Find out if there is a Bar Mitzvah Year enrichment program in your Synagogue, Temple, School or JCC.
14. Choose the theme of the Bar Mitzvah. You can connect it creatively to your son’s Bar Mitzvah Portion, a Jewish idea or value (tsedaka, family). Go ahead and Google “bar Mitzvah themes”, you’ll get loads more ideas from there…
15. Interview and choose vendors. Speak to friends and get recommendations. Here’s an article on choosing a photographer, you can use some of the guidelines for other service vendors: https://www.yourjewishspeech.com/bar-mitzvah/109-choosing-a-photographer-for-your-barbat-mitzvah
With that we’ve covered the big details, there are many smaller details, and we recommend that you consult you Bar Mitzvah Planning Schedule for further details. (email us and ask for one). Most importantly remember, this is your son’s Big Day, he is the Bar Mitzvah Boy. As you start planning, it is a good idea to take him out the house for a formal “meeting” with over coffee/milkshake and put your ideas to him and see what he says. Let him have an appropriate amount of involvement and choice in the planning, and make sure that the occasion you have planned is something that he will look forward to and want to remember!
Good luck and mazal tov!