As a rite of passage from girlhood to young adulthood, the Bat Mitzvah is a time for joy and celebration. It is also a time to incorporate traditions, both new and old. Some families have their own unique traditions that are passed down between generations. Other families take inspiration from their Jewish heritage, traditions of their congregation, and of course blog posts :) Whether you have your own traditions, or you are looking to incorporate a new custom into your family’s Bat Mitzvah, you may find something to take away from this article.
Here are 5 traditions to incorporate into your San Diego Bat Mitzvah.
1) Help Her Make a Jewish Home
The Bat Mitzvah is an opportunity to give a meaningful gift, and one that is rooted in Jewish practice. The flashy presents will of course be appreciated, but the ones that help your Bat Mitzvah carry out Jewish customs will be hers for years to come. They will carry her through her college years, and when she starts a family of her own.
After the Bat Mitzvah, the gifts will have a place of honor in your home. These gifts may include a siddur, candlesticks, a Kiddush cup, a havdallah set, or all of the above. They will give your kiddo a way to feel personally connected, and to take pride in the traditions and rituals. Think of how excited she will be when lighting her own Shabbat candles for the first time!
Traditions of Your Congregation
It is possible that your synagogue or congregation already has a tradition around gifting Jewish objects for the home. For example, the Sisterhood or Men’s Club may make a speech at the Bat Mitzvah itself, along with a gift. Before making a presentation on behalf of your family, we suggest asking your congregation ahead of time. This way, you are well prepared.
Also, you can attend other Bat Mitzvahs ahead of time, and lean about the traditions of your congregation in advance. If the Bat Mitzvah girls receive a Kiddush cup, then make your family gift a hand-painted spice box instead!
Photography of Bat Mitzvah Traditions
We recognize that the presentation of Jewish home objects may take place during the Bat Mitzvah ceremony itself. Depending on your level of observance, photography may or may not be welcomed on Shabbat, and we have solutions for each. If not, for example, we may set up a time to photograph your Bat Mitzvah with her special gift during the reception, at the Sunday brunch, or on a separate occasion. This ensures that you have photography of all the most meaningful moments of the Bat Mitzvah, with full coverage of the occasion.
2) Candle Lighting Ceremony
One of the most fun and engaging parts of the Bat Mitzvah reception is the candle lighting ceremony. This tradition typically takes place towards the beginning of the evening, such as while dinner is being served. The candle lighting ceremony is enjoyable for guests as well as those who participate because it gets people out of their seats, and helps to kick off the festivities.
During the candle lighting ceremony, your Bat Mitzvah will announce different family members and friends to recognize, and to show appreciation. Each time a name is called, the individual comes up to light a candle, and the end result is a beautifully lit candelabra. The Bat Mitzvah girl may even take a few moments to share a unique reflection about each person, prepared in advance. This makes the people important to your family feel special, especially those who have worked hard or traveled long distances.
Who to Recognize For This Tradition
The candle lighting ceremony varies from family to family, and there is no hard and fast rule. If you have a lot of people to thank, such as cousins, consider grouping them together to share the honor of a candle. If the Rabbi or Bat Mitzvah tutor is in attendance, and they have made a significant impact, consider bringing them up for a candle. Siblings should be recognized, along with an inside joke, perhaps. And of course the parents deserve a candle!
Preparing for Your Candle Lighting Ceremony
There are a few things to keep in mind before committing to including a candle lighting ceremony at the Bat Mitzvah:
- The Candles: Your venue may have restrictions around lit flames, so you will want to ask in advance. In case candles present an issue, consider an electric or LED candelabra instead. Your event coordinator or venue representative will help you to make arrangements, and to ensure compliance with any restrictions or regulations.
- Music: The candle lighting ceremony comes to life when there are musical cues to accompany each honoree. Often, these song snippets have a personal connection to the person being honored, such as “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z for relatives visiting from New York. Feel free to have fun with your musical choices! If you have a Bat mitzvah DJ or band, ask them for help tying in the musical cues. See what they suggest in terms of selections. Of course, you will want to arrange this in advance, well ahead of the Bat Mitzvah reception date.
- Photography: Getting a candlelit room to look amazing on camera is tricky. Fortunately, it is a room condition we are well suited to capture. We have been photographing Bat Mitzvahs and events for many years. If you are going to have a candle lighting ceremony, mention this to your photographer prior to the day itself. This way, we can make preparations when scouting the room location. We will be ready to capture all of the action!
3) Start Your Own Tradition
Traditions don’t all have to be centuries old, or passed down through the ages. The beauty of a tradition is that you can make it your own – and then future generations will follow suit. Perhaps it’s a special mother-daughter day prior to the Bat Mitzvah, with time set aside to relax before the big event. Or maybe the family takes a trip to Israel the summer following the Bat Mitzvah celebration, and tours the country together.
Traditions don’t have to be grand gestures. They can be small tokens or symbolic recognitions that are personally meaningful to you and your family. Whatever your traditions, our San Diego Bat Mitzvah photography and videography team will be there to capture them in a creative, artistic, and stylized way.
Let us know what traditions you plan on incorporating into your family’s San Diego Bat Mitzvah! Wed love to hear from you, and add new ideas to our list to share with the community.