Planning a Bar Mitzvah – Your guide to a successful Bar Mitzvah
Your son’s Bar Mitzvah is an important milestone in his life. This ceremony, held as he reaches the age of 13, is a traditional rite of passage marking a significant turning point – a coming of age where he now takes on the responsibilities of a Jewish adult and is able to participate in synagogue services as an adult member of the community.
In some respects the most difficult aspect of planning a Bar Mitzvah ceremony is the work which your son needs to undertake in learning his Hebrew scriptures, but such a joyous occasion naturally warrants a party celebration with family and friends. It’s a daunting challenge. You’ll want to host a perfect event whilst still be able to enjoy and take pride in your son’s special day.
Events by Knight understand the significance of a family Bar Mitzvah as you’ve proudly anticipated this date for the last 13 years, but we also realise the meticulous organisation needed and the stress levels involved in planning such a momentous celebratory event.
We know that the key to planning a Bar Mitzvah successfully lies in the organisational detail, so we’ve put together a few tips on how to plan a successful Bar Mitzvah day.
Arranging the date
You will need to contact your synagogue up to three years in advance of your son’s 13th birthday when planning a Bar Mitzvah. Formal Bar Mitzvah lessons usually begin about a year prior to the scheduled date, but you will need to learn about the process and time frame required to prepare your son for this event.
Before choosing your location, you’ll need to decide whether you’re planning a Bar Mitzvah celebration for the afternoon or evening. Evening slots tend to be most popular so bear that in mind as they will book up fast.
You’ll also need to select caterers, entertainers and perhaps furniture and interior design suppliers and specialists. This is best achieved through word of mouth recommendations. Your son’s friends may have recently celebrated their Bar Mitzvah’s and will be able to share contact details for local suppliers. It will help to draw up a list of points you wish to discuss beforehand. For example, will be a mixed age group party? Will you need to provide both kosher and non-kosher food? Do you need separate spaces for entertaining and dining?
Naturally your menu options will depend on your budget, age of guests invited and numbers, but you need to be clear about your requirements well in advance. Will you have a separate menu for the children, for example? Will you provide a traditional seated meal with carving station for meats or a wide range of buffet delights, fruit and cheese board, hors d’oevres and finger food? Will you offer an open or a cash bar only, or a combination of the two?
While it’s not vital to have a theme for a Bar Mitzvah party celebration, it does make planning a Bar Mitzvah simpler. Perhaps your son has a special interest, hobby, or favourite charity which could be incorporated as a theme throughout the decorations, invitations, centrepieces and cake. Examples could include sports, dance, movies, favourite book or a combination of your son’s chosen items.
With a wide variety of entertainment options on offer, the only limit may well be your budget. However, whichever forms of entertainment you decide on, remember to select according to the age range group of your guests.
Also think about unusual party entertainment ideas which would appeal to everyone. Perhaps a photo station so guests can take home framed photos or keyrings, a music video booth with karaoke so children can make their own DVD or a caricaturist to sketch everyone during the evening. All of these would provide keepsakes as a memento of your son’s special day
Candle lighting ceremony
A candle lighting ceremony is a popular means for your son to be able to honour the most important people in his life. Traditionally there are 13 or 14 candles – one for each year of your son’s life and perhaps an extra one for luck. Family members, close friends and the bar mitzvah boy are chosen to light a candle and make a speech or recite a poem.
Naturally you’ll want this ceremony to run smoothly, so it’s best to read speeches and poems from paper rather than trying to commit them to memory and reciting them on the day. You may also like to have appropriate music accompanying this.
Countdown to the event
Throughout the time leading up to your son’s Bar Mitzvah you’ll need to undertake many administrative tasks, including planning your guest list and sending invitations with directions and a RSVP card. You may also need to arrange accommodation for guests who have lengthy journeys, so it’s worthwhile contacting a local hotel to enquire whether they would offer you a discounted rate for large blocks of rooms.
Two months before the event you’ll need to work with your son to create the candle lighting ceremony, writing speeches, preparing music. Co-ordinate entertainers and caterers with an agenda and a timeline for speeches, eating, dancing, etc.
Don’t forget to keep in regular contact with the synagogue for rehearsal times, and with your son’s tutor for on his progress on learning the required content. Emotions will inevitably take over on the big day with nerves and stress, pride, delight and reflective sentiment all playing a part.
Allowing a specialist Bar Mitzvah planning team such as Events by Knight to handle all the stressful parts of organising your son’s day will leave you free to enjoy the day and revel in this new milestone in his life. We have wide ranging expertise in this area.
Take a look at our Bar Mitzvah page where recent bar mitzvah celebrations are showcased and then give us a call on +44(0)203 130 4040 or contact us via the website. We’d be delighted to help in planning a Bar Mitzvah that will wow your guests.