Jewish Events: Proper Guest Etiquette at a Bar/Bat Mitzvah

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Let’s face it—everyone feels a bit giddy when they receive a party invite. If you’ve received an invitation to a friend’s bar or bat mitzvah, you may think you’re attending any other party.

However, bar and bat mitzvahs are unique Jewish events. They’re a special religious coming-of-age event, and it’s important to act appropriately at the ceremony.

But what exactly is appropriate guest behavior at a bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah? Isn’t it enough just to show up?

We’re here to fill you in. Keep reading below to learn about proper bat and bar mitzvah etiquette.

Master the Attire

The dress code may depend on the synagogue, so it’s wise to check the synagogue website or check with the hosts for any specific requirements. However, a safe guideline is to wear modest and formal clothing. If you’re a woman, make sure your shoulders are covered.

When you arrive at the synagogue, you’ll likely be provided with a kippah, a head covering worn by men. The kippah doesn’t signify religious identification. Rather, it’s worn as a sign of respect when entering the synagogue.

You may also be offered a tallit to wear if you’re a man. However, the tallit, which is a prayer shawl, is only worn by Jews. If you’re not a part of the faith, you can politely decline it.

Bring an Appropriate Gift

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It’s expected that you bring a gift for the celebrant. Many guests gift money, which can be used for the celebrant’s future college expenses or studies abroad in Israel.

While money is one of the most common gifts, there are other appropriate gifts you can give the celebrant if you want a more personal or traditional gift. The site thejerusalemportfolio.com offers a guide to bar and bat mitzvah gifts if you’re still struggling to choose something.

Attend the Service Properly

It’s important to arrive at the synagogue on time for the service, also known as the Shabbat or Sabbath. While the bar or bat mitzvah activities occur later in the service, it’s still respectful to arrive at the beginning of the service for Jewish events.

Like with any formal event, be sure to silence your phone and refrain from chatting with your seatmates during the service. Photography is forbidden during services in a synagogue. You may notice a professional photographer, but this is a rare exception specifically for the bat or bar mitzvah ceremony.

You’ll also notice that there are many directions to sit or stand during the service. These actions have no particular religious meaning. However, bowing and prostrating do hold religious significance, so it’s best to sit or stand during these moments if you’re not Jewish.

Maintain Good Etiquette at Jewish Events

Bar and bat mitzvahs are one of the most important Jewish events for practicing young men and women. If you’re invited to one of these important coming-of-age Jewish celebrations, you must have a clear understanding of proper bat and bar mitzvah etiquette. With the guide above, you’ll be able to enjoy your time as a guest at a bar or bat mitzvah!

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