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Ways to Include Your Child's Interfaith Heritage at the Celebration

Return to Bar/Bat Mitzvah Ideas and Primer for Interfaith Families.

The bar/bat mitzvah celebration, which is typically held either immediately after the ceremony or later that night, is not restricted by religious constraints, so you can involve all your relatives and family members in any way you see fit.

Whether or not the non-Jewish parent was restricted from participating in some rituals at the synagogue, the party is an opportunity to honor and thank that person.

A fairly recent tradition that is quite popular involves calling up relatives or friends to light the 13 candles on the bar mitzvah cake. This provides an opportunity to honor relatives or friends who were not honored at the ceremony, especially non-Jewish ones. (See Sample Candlelighting Ceremony Introduction and Sample Candlelighting Ceremony.)

Often bar/bat mitzvah parties are centered around themes. Your child’s theme could recognize the multiethnic heritage of his or her parents, through decorations, food choice, entertainment or party favors.

Many families also do bar/bat mitzvahs in Israel. Because Israel contains holy sites sacred to Judaism, Islam and Christianity, a bar/bat mitzvah in Israel could be a great opportunity for the family and guests to learn about different religious traditions.


The Bar/Bat Mitzvah Ideas and Primer for Interfaith Families is also available as a PDF document.

Hebrew for "son of the commandments." In modern Jewish practice, Jewish boys come of age at 13. When a boy comes of age, he is officially a bar mitzvah and considered an adult. The term is commonly used as a short-hand for the bar mitzvah's coming-of-age ceremony and/or celebration. The female equivalent is "bat mitzvah." Derived from the Greek word for "assembly," a Jewish house of prayer. Synagogue refers to both the room where prayer services are held and the building where it occurs. In Yiddish, "shul." Reform synagogues are often called "temple." Plural form of the Hebrew word "mitzvah" which means "commandment," it has two meanings. The first are the commandments given in the Torah. ("You should obey the mitzvah of honoring your parents!") The second is a good deed. ("Helping her carry her groceries home was such a mitzvah!")

InterfaithFamily is the premier resource supporting interfaith couples exploring Jewish life and inclusive Jewish communities. We offer educational content; connections to welcoming organizations, professionals and programs; resources and trainings for organizations, clergy and other program providers; and our new InterfaithFamily/Your Community initiative providing coordinated comprehensive offerings in local communities.

If you have suggestions, please contact network at interfaithfamily dot com.

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