The Bar Mitzvah Candle Lighting Ceremony is a Time to Honor Important People in Your Child's Life
The Bar Mitzvah candle lighting ceremony is a traditional part of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah party. For a Jewish family, their son's Bar Mitzvah or their daughter's Bat Mitzvah celebration after the Torah service begins with family and friends lighting the candles on the birthday cake.
Here are some guidelines for readings and for selecting who is going to get the honor participating in the Bar Mitzvah candle lighting ceremony.
How Many Candles?
It is traditional to have thirteen or fourteen candles. While the number thirteen represents how old the child is, some people like to have fourteen candles, with one being for good luck. The choice is yours.
However, that number is not set in stone. You can have fewer than thirteen candles to light at the ceremony is you desire. We had our daughter only light eight candles, for those were the people who were truly significant to her.
Choosing the Family Candles
Here is the complicated part of the candle lighting ceremony…who gets called up for the honor? Of course, parents, grandparents and siblings get candles. Then there are assorted aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. The Bar Mitzvah boy and Bat Mitzvah girl also get a candle, as it is their party.
The first person you need to speak to about who gets called up is the Bar Mitzvah boy or Bat Mitzvah girl. While you as an adult have the final say, your child does need to have some input on this matter. Your child is going to tell you the people who matter most in their lives, not someone to whom they feel an obligation.
Family candles can be tricky. Grandparents should always have candles to themselves, both the mother and the father's side. If there is a divorce situation between grandparents, it may be necessary to have the divorced couple come up separately.
Aunt and uncle candles has various options. What you choose depends on how many different family members you have. If you have a lot of family, then children (cousins) should be called up with their parents as a family candle. If you like, then a separate cousin candle can be done after all aunts and uncles have had a turn.
Many families also light a candle to honor those family members who are no longer living, but were a part of the child's life.
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Some Very Basic Tips
Candles for Friends
Here's the tricky part
Here is where people get insulted during the ceremony. While you are naturally closer to some people than to others, if you invited these people to celebrate with you, then they are your friend. If you decide to include your personal friends as part of the ceremony, they should be an integral part of your child's life. This is not the time to honor your friends.
Remember, you do not want it to be a candle slighting ceremony!
If your child spends a lot of time with another family and you are close, then calling them up is appropriate. If you have been friends with someone for twenty years, but that person is not important to your child, then they should not be a part of this ceremony.
Many Bar and Bat Mitzvah children have all of their friends come up to light one candle, thereby including everyone who is attending.
Some people like to honor all invited guests-friends and family-with votives at the table. These candles get lit at the same time and become part of the centerpiece.
Writing the Poems
As each person is called up by the Maser of Ceremonies, the boy or girl typically reads a quatrain (four line poem) written about the person. If your child is not a writer, this chore will be hard for him or her. Help may be needed and should be given, as your child has more important things to worry about than writing a poem about Aunt Ida.
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Selecting the Right Songs for Each Person
The DJ will have plenty of song suggestions for each person who is participating. The song needs to "fit" the person or family. For example, my brother has lived in Miami most of his adult life, so when he went to light a candle, Will Smith's "Welcome to Miami" was played. A native New Yorker, my mom's song was Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York."
The Bar Mitzvah candle lighting ceremony is a small but traditional piece of the party. With careful planning, it will be fun and memorable.