Bar/Bat Mitzvah Planning

A guide to planning every step of your child's Bar or Bat Mitzvah.

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The difficult part of preparing for the ceremony portion of the bar/bat mitzvah lies with the child and his or her tutor. Aside from that, planning may require arranging the ceremony with the synagogue, purchasing a few kippot, printing up a guide for guests, and preparing some remarks. But when it comes to the party, the success is in the details, whether you want a small luncheon or an extravagant banquet with a ten-piece band. This article provides a timeline to aid planning; elsewhere under "Practical Aspects of Bar/Bat Mitzvah" are ideas for enhancing the event's spirituality.Reprinted with permission from

Your child's bar/bat mitzvah is a special day you begin to think about on the day your child is born. It's 13 years in the making and it takes planning, planning, and more planning!

Organization is the key to a memorable bar/bat mitzvah celebration, and planning can actually get underway as early as three years before the actual date. And whether you select a simple reception to celebrate your child's passage into the rites of Judaism or an elaborate evening affair for 300, the goal is the same. You want a memorable and meaningful event that you and your family will remember for a lifetime.

Hints for Successful Bar/Bat Mitzvah Planning

Two to three years before event

    1.        Contact a synagogue or temple when your child is less than ten years old. Learn about the process and the timeframe required to prepare your child for the event. Formal bar/bat mitzvah lessons usually begin one year prior to the scheduled date.

    2.        Decide on the style of the event, one that suits your lifestyle and budget.

    3.        Contact potential service providers, caterers, and entertainers. Word-of-mouth is usually the most reliable source for narrowing down your choices. Decide if you want to use a party planner who will coordinate all of the service providers for you.

One year before event

    1.        Book location, entertainment, photographer/videographer, and party decorator (florist). All will require nonrefundable deposits, so make sure that you are certain about your choices.

    2.        Select a "theme" and/or color scheme for the event. Include your child in this aspect of the planning, keeping his or her preferences in mind.

    3.        Help your child decide on a community service or bar/bat mitzvah project idea. Many families find that the meaningfulness of the event is enhanced when a tzedakah [charity] project is established.

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Paula Levenson is the mother of three and the stepmother of two. She has written for