There is much Bar Mitzvah information on what to DO during this event, but there is very little information on what you shouldn’t or directly prohibited from doing on Bar Mitzvah. So let’s consider those things, trying to make a complete guide on what NOT to do during Bar Mitzvah.
What is prohibited to do on Bar Mitzvah in Judaism
- Do not celebrate the event in a non-kosher restaurant or a café. Even if you are at home, do not eat a non-kosher food, as it will run in the direct contradiction to Torah’s commandments – which is not good to start a newly-obtained religious life of a boy/girl with violation of those.
- Do not arrange the date of celebration on Saturday (Sabbath) – unlike the ceremony that actually happens the best on this day (amongst the others). The ceremony is not the work, it is the religious rite. While the celebration will definitely make some work not only for you but also for the Jew people that serve you at the restaurant. This is prohibited by Torah’s commandments. So planning the rite on Sabbath, and knowing that the celebration of it will interfere with commandments, it is better either to separate the rite and the celebration in time or to plan the rite for another day.
- You can give some expensive gifts to your son or daughter. However, they must already know well, what is the real cost of the gift. For instance, if this is the money – then you must be absolutely confident that all presents of you as parents and those ones of guests will be spent wisely, not on some silly candies and soda (or a new PlayStation). If you aren’t sure about that – make the presents modest. The best option at all times is to resort to giving religious items or literature. But if you still want to give something financially valuable – then put the money in the bank and give the deposit certificate to a fellow – saying that when (s)he will be 18, (s)he will be able to withdraw this money on his/her own, with interest. This will stipulate and stimulate a boy or a girl to save more money to add it to the account to withdraw in future. And will also teach patience and financial literacy.
- There are a number of dates of religious holidays to avoid for the ceremony: Purim, Passover, Lag B’Omer, Shavuot, Tisha B’av, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simchat Torah, Chanukah. Not all of them are in prohibition in your particular community, so discuss them with your spiritual leader. There are also those to remember: daylight savings time dates! If you or your guests will not set the right time on their watches, then -hour+ can be so annoyingly overlooked!
Aside from a list of prohibitions, which are a few, below we present the list of pieces of advice that would simplify your life during the ceremony and after it.
What is not recommended
- Do not turn the event of Jewish Bar Mitzvah into the celebration of another birthday. Of course, it is connected. And you can even combine these two celebrations to save money (as a rule, the two festive days are divided with at least 1 day from one another). But always remember about the spiritual and religious meaning of Bar Mitzvah – which has nothing to do with the celebration of a day of another birth. The boy or girl will have much more ordinary Bdays yet in their lives to celebrate. However, to make this day memorable and full of sacred meaning, it is better to distinguish the celebration of both. If you want to give more joy to your child arranging two parties – it’s totally fine. But let the first be mundane, while Bar Mitzvah must have religious, sacred meaning to have the valuable influence and connection with God and the Jewish people.
- It is desirable to wear the clothes that one should wear on a solemn day – like when going to a church or a wedding as a guest. There is no strictly stipulated dress code (and one couldn’t exist as it wasn’t prescribed by Torah) but the general understanding of festivity of the Bar Mitzvah event shall give a hint that ordinary dress is not the suitable case here. Restrained tones will do a good job – along with white, dark blue, gray, and black colors. Choosing dress, stick to modesty and officiality as the optimal choice. However, these choices are only can be enabled if you don’t belong to Orthodox or Conservatives – as there are strict dress orders that are 100% regulated depending on your congregation and your particular community, so stick to them.
- If the ceremony’s official part takes place in a synagogue during the morning services, all guests must comply with the rules of behavior there. It implies requirements to dress, smell, and chatting as well in addition to the obligatory ones such as arrival time, prayer shawl, yarmulke (kippah), maintaining sanctity, following the prayer book, and rules to sitting/standing. So if you are of the different congregation or a community than the one that hosts the event – try to learn all these prior to the time of the ceremony in order not to spoil the solemn day for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
- As very often various ceremonies after the official part include a candle-themed hall or a procession, it is of high importance not to wear anything easily combustible or inflammable. This piece of advice would seem strange and even stupidly odd but you would be surprised with how many people were caught with fire from the incautious behavior in such moments. So if you don’t want to be another sparkling guy on YouTube – please beware of open fire and take off everything that combusts well. Remember about the hair too.
We hope that two lists above will add value to your Bar Mitzvah ceremony and it will be pleasant.