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We are truly thrilled to be welcoming so many friends and family for Jules’s bar mitzvah, who are not only from all across the world, but also from across different cultures and faiths. For some of you, this might be your ???th bar mitzvah (stopped counting long ago…), and for some of you this might be your first bar mitzvah -- either way, and for everyone in between, we are so grateful for your presence and want you to know what you can expect for Jules’s big day. We have put together this FAQ, which we hope will address many of your questions, but don’t hesitate to reach out to us if there is something you want to know that we haven’t answered here! Shani can be reached at, and Seth can be reached at

What is a “bar mitzvah” anyway?

Bar Mitzvah" literally means "son of the commandment." "Bar" is "son" in Aramaic, which used to be the vernacular of the Jewish people. "Mitzvah" is "commandment" in both Hebrew and Aramaic. "Bat" is daughter in Hebrew and Aramaic. Technically, the term refers to the child who is coming of age, and it is strictly correct to refer to someone as "becoming a bar (or bat) mitzvah." However, the term is more commonly used to refer to the coming of age ceremony itself, and you are more likely to hear that someone is "having a bar mitzvah" or "invited to a bar mitzvah."


Under Jewish Law, children are not obligated to observe the commandments, although they are encouraged to do so as much as possible to learn the obligations they will have as adults. At the age of 13 (or 12 for girls in some Jewish traditions), children become obligated to observe the commandments. The bar mitzvah ceremony formally and publicly marks the assumption of that obligation, along with rights like being able to take part in leading religious services and being counted in a minyan (the minimum number of people needed to perform certain parts of religious services). A Jewish child automatically becomes a bar mitzvah upon reaching the age of 13 years (or 12 for girls in some Jewish traditions). No ceremony is needed to confer these rights and obligations. The popular bar mitzvah ceremony is not required, and does not fulfill any commandment. It is certainly not, as one episode of The Simpsons would have you believe, necessary to have a bar mitzvah ceremony or party in order to be considered a Jew! The bar or bat mitzvah ceremony is a relatively modern innovation, not mentioned in the Talmud, and the elaborate ceremonies and receptions that are commonplace today were unheard of as recently as a century ago. (adapted from

What should I expect during the bar mitzvah service?

We have selected a Shabbat (Saturday morning) service for Jules to mark his bar mitzvah. Together with our synagogue’s clergy, he will help lead the morning’s service, including reading from the Torah scroll, and giving a dvar Torah (a speech that references elements of the week’s parashah, that week’s Torah portion). If you want a sneak preview of what these services sound and look like, check out our synagogue’s YouTube channel, where Saturday morning services are live streamed every week -- and many upcoming services will include a bar or bat mitzvah helping to lead services!


If you haven’t attended a synagogue service before, you might be surprised by the “rolling” nature of the arrival time (see next FAQ for more on that ….), and the amount of kibitzing (chit chat)!! Quiet conversing during many portions of the service is expected, and you’re also welcome to step out of the sanctuary from time to time (although we recommend you are present for the Torah reading, Jules’s dvar Torah, and our parent blessing to him). Other than that, feel free to get up and step out as you need. The service will likely conclude around 12:30, and immediately following, we will be hosting a kiddush luncheon at the synagogue.

What time should I arrive for the bar mitzvah service?

The service technically starts at 9:15am. BUT! You are not expected to arrive at the start of the service (unless you really, really want to!). Jules will likely be reading from the Torah around 10:00/10:30. The service will conclude around 12:30.

What should I wear to the weekend's events?

For the service on Saturday morning: Our synagogue does not have a strict dress policy, but people tend to dress relatively conservatively – e.g., dresses or dress pants for women, and dress shirts/slacks for men (suits or blazers fine too). Kippot (head coverings) will be provided for all men.


For the party on Saturday evening: Come dressed to party! Anything from dressy casual to cocktail works! Food will be served from food trucks and buffet tables, and our aim is to focus on the FUN!

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