Mitzvah Planning 101 For Event Professionals


Bar and Bat Mitzvah parties are events unlike most others that event professionals plan. Brynne Magaziner, owner and Chief Magic Maker at Pop Color Events, put together a Mitzvah Planing 101 For Event Professionals for us, sharing the important things to know when working with clients who are looking to plan a Bar or Bat Mitzvah.

Planning a Bar or Bat mitzvah is Not The Same as Planning a Birthday Party

The common misconception is that mitzvah planning involves planning a birthday party for a 13-year-old, but that could not be further from the truth!

A Bar or Bat Mitzvah is a Jewish coming of age ritual. When a boy turns 13 and a girl turns 12 or 13, he or she is considered an adult in the eyes of the Jewish community. To recognize this accomplishment the teen will lead parts of the worship service, read or chant from the Torah, sacred Jewish scroll of the “Old” Testament and give a short speech about the week’s Torah portion. It takes years of study and tutoring to be able to do this, so it is a big deal and thus, something to be celebrated with friends and family.

The Date is Assigned and It’s Not a Birthday

Since a Bar or Bat Mitzvah is a religious ritual, it is most frequently held at a synagogue. Because synagogues may have many children in this age group, they assign the date two to three years in advance. This allows the synagogue time to plan and the tween a chance to learn their Torah portion since each week has its own specific portion.

The process of assigning dates varies from congregation to congregation. In my experience, once a year, the clergy and their staff assign all of the dates for a particular class of students (either 4th or 5th graders). The particulars involve taking into account a variety of factors–the tween’s birthdate, Jewish and secular holidays, summer vacation (there aren’t usually many Mitzvahs then). Frequently the date is not on the tween’s actual birthday, so you do not want to wish them a happy birthday. It is not a birthday party!

Once a date is assigned, it is very difficult to change that date. As an event professional, it would not be smart to ask a Bar or Bat Mitzvah new client inquiry if their date is flexible–it isn’t!

There is a Difference Between Bar, Bat, B’nai and B’not Mitzvah

In the Hebrew language, the word mitzvah translates to commandments, so these literally mean “son, daughter, sons or daughters of the commandments”. It’s important to note that you don’t have a bar or bat mitzvah, you become a bar or bat mitzvah.

It therefore follows that a Bar Mitzvah is for a boy and Bat Mitzvah is for a girl. B’nai Mitzvah is plural, so it is either a mix of boys and girls or all boys. This could be either for twins/multiples of the same family or if the tween is sharing a Bar/Bat Mitzvah service with another family. B’not Mitzvah is also plural, but it for multiple girls.

Make sure you use the right word depending upon the party you are planning.

There is a “Season”

In communities with a lot of Jewish families, there is a season when tweens attend A LOT of Bar or Bat Mitzvahs. “The season” lasts from the end of 6th grade to early 8th grade with most falling at some point during 7th grade.

If you’re working with a family towards the end of the season, you’ll probably want to include more elements to keep guests’ attention. As kids may have attended several Bar and Bat Mitzvahs throughout the season, it becomes important to strategize the ideas on how to bring in new and different elements (including entertainment and decor) to keep things interesting and unique. You may choose to ask your client (and even check with the tween regarding the elements they have already seen and types they would find special for their own party) to ensure an amazing guest and client experience with your services.

Brynne Magaziner is the owner and Chief Magic Maker at Pop Color Events, a boutique event planning firm specializing in Bar Mitzvah & Bat Mitzvah party planning in Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia.

Photo Credit: Angela Powell Woulfe Photography

Floral Design: Eight Tree Street

Of Possible Interest:

Mitzvah Seating Ideas

Bar Mitzvah Spotlight