A bar mitzvah is typically one of the most important times in a Jewish boy’s life. The significance is that a 13 year old boy is now taking responsibility for himself, as a part of the Jewish community. The ceremony marks the most important part of proceedings in terms of the religious implications and the party is where the real fun begins.
Introductions and Blessing
The master of ceremonies must first introduce and welcome the host family to the party. This is typically completed by the parents appearing first, then the siblings and finally the Bar Mitzvah boy. Next will be the Ha-motzi, which is a blessing given over challah (a type of covered bread). This blessing or prayer is typically given by an elder of the community, most commonly by the boy’s grandfather. The elder will give thanks to God before slicing up the challah and sharing this amongst close family.
Hora and Candle Lighting
The Hora is where the party really starts, as the guests are invited to join the boy on the dance floor. They will then complete the traditional Hora dance, which involves the guests standing in a circle and dancing around the guest of honor and his parents while they are raised in a chair. The boy must then call upon his friends and family to light a candle on his cake. The guests who light the candle will generally be introduced to others, while lighting the candles, in the form of a story or a poem.
They will have music specifically played for them as they light the candles and there is also a special significance to how and who lights the candles. The first candle which is lit will be to commemorate family and friends who are no longer with us. Then the candles are usually lit in the order of grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends, and finally the immediate family in order of siblings, parents and finally the boy.
The Toast and Special Dance
After the candle lighting ritual the parents of the boy will ask all guests to raise a glass, as they toast their boy, and honor his successes and the things he has accomplished so far in his life. The parents will typically spend some time here to thank and mention other important guests at the function, as well as thanking all the guests for joining them and participating in their son’s special day. The party will then hold one of the most heart-wrenching and touching moments of the day, as the boy will share a slow dance with his mother. This is a moment that usually causes the most emotion amongst the guests, but especially for the parents, and most of all for the boy’s mother.
As mentioned, the party is the real fun part of the day, however, the ceremony which is hosted before gives this special day its real meaning. The ceremony will involve the boy reading from the Torah and the guests singing in celebration, before the boy gives his Bar Mitzvah speech. It is usually customary for the parents to give a speech thereafter.
This post has been contributed by Emily Clarke who is a chef working for Cater Trendz, a company providing catering services across Toronto. Her hobbies include cooking and baking. Visit catertrendz.com to know more about her company.