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Food Trucks, Ice Sculptures and the DJ...It's Maddening! 

Students spend months and even years preparing for their B’nai Mitzvah service. Parallel to the study and preparation are invitations, party plans, outfits and planning. To some, the Bar or Bat Mitzvah party can be the controversial part of this experience; many would say that it is just a frill or even takes away from the true meaning. I disagree. 

Becoming a B’nai Mitzvah (Bar or Bat Mitzvah) is a journey. It’s a process of finding yourself, whether you are the parent or the child. It can be a maddening and busy time, but absolutely in a life-changing way. It’s a time to dig a little deeper into how we think, feel and embrace ourselves as Jews. It’s an invitation for Tikkun Olam, bringing healing to our world. It’s a chance to contemplate, celebrate, connect and practice radical hospitality. All of these things come together through the B’nai Mitzvah process, including the party. 

Let’s take a look at words that bring meaning to the B’nai Mitzvah journey and how the learning, tutoring, service, preparations and party all play an important role towards meaningful growth: 


  • Religious School learning should offer focus to learn about the meanings of the prayers, developing personal kavannot or intention for each prayer shared in the service
  • Wrestling with the chosen parasha whether in a Religious School class setting, with the Rabbi, tutor or parents in an important part of feeling empowered to develop one’s own ideas and share them
  • Hebrew is a beautiful and mystical language. Contemplating the roots, meanings and connections of the words (plus learning Trope to chant Hebrew) is a powerful experience


  • The community singing the shechiyanu after the Bar or Bat Mitzvah first reads from Torah is a strengthening experience
  • Planning an oneg for after the service that both feeds your guests and gives them an opportunity to connect to others is all about the value of “hachnasat orchim,” – welcoming guests
  • Creating a celebration that reflects the Bar or Bat Mitzvah’s loves and creates an experience for guests to enjoy can be a very meaningful part of the process. Whether a backyard BBQ, Luau Party or dance party, this time can create memories that will last a lifetime. Those memories spark reflection of the entire experience; that is important to remember


  • Developing community between the Religious School class community and parents is vital (and a beautiful part) of this journey. It has to be cultivated with intention but has the power to become a very meaningful part of the process, impacting one’s Jewish life/community connection for years to come
  • Creating a partnership with the tutor, Rabbi and/or cantor is developing a circle of l’dor v’dor and the Bar or Bat Mitzvah’s own personal connection to the community. This is very valuable, especially if cultivated authentically
  • Family can come together during this time! Whether it’s siblings helping with practicing, car rides to and from tutoring, brainstorming the celebration together, taking family education classes at the synagogue or digging a little deeper into the Torah portion with your child; this is an amazing time to cultivate family connection. Plus, if extended family is available to visit, having them be part of the service and enjoying the party together can be a meaningful time for families
  • Welcoming guests and guiding them through the service can be an honor for each Bar or Bat Mitzvah. Even if students are generally shy in front of a crowd, they always shine at their service
  • If this process is truly about the Bar or Bat Mitzvah and this child is able to be authentic in sharing ideas, it is remarkably cool for them to think that each person there (whether Jewish or non-Jewish) is their to celebrate and hear from them. It is about knowing that their voice matters, especially as they become their own person in the Jewish community 

Radical Hospitality

With this intention as the base in planning all parts of this process, it can be an exceptional part of the journey

  • The Bar or Bat Mitzvah welcoming each person to the service; creating a program that both explains the service to people and helps them to know their presence is appreciated
  • Designing a celebration that brings in fun, yummy foods, blessings and enjoyment combined with the heart of the Bar or Bat Mitzvah can be memorable for everyone. Celebrations create lasting memories! 

Just as in everything life offers us: we generally get out of it what we put into it. Use the B’nai Mitzvah journey as a time for growth, connectedness and being part of the traditions of our people. 

Sun, May 22 2022 21 Iyyar 5782