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10 Things To Keep In Mind At Your Friend's Bar / Bat Mitzvah

Here's a brief list of things to remember before or during your attendance to a bar or bat mitzvah if you have not been exposed to a synagogue experience before, or need a quick refresher. Written by teens for teens.

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1. Dress Appropriately.


We know that you want to look cute, but in the synagogue it is appropriate to cover your shoulders. Throw on a nice sweater if you need to. For boys, a button down shirt, a nice tie, and khakis should be fine. A jacket, too, if you're feeling fancy ;)

2. Gifts.


A card is always a must, but gifts can be anywhere from personal gifts to checks. Checks are probably the most common thing a b'nai mitzvot will get on their special day. Your attendance at your friends special day is appreciated and gifts, either personal gifts or checks are appreciated. The Jews give checks in increments of $18, since the number 18 means chai, the Hebrew word for life. Any increment of $18 will suffice.

3. Leaving and entering the synagogue.


Going to the bathroom or needing some water is a completely natural thing. However, there is a right time and a wrong time. The right time to leave during the middle of the service is when everyone is seated. Don't leave when everyone is standing, and definitely don't come back when everyone is standing. When coming back, wait for the congregation to be sitting. Additionally, ushers at the entrance to the sanctuary can help you out with this.

4. When to stand and sit.


If only a couple of people are standing, don't join them, you should stay seated. When the whole congregation stands, join them! Also join when they sit down again.

5. Sit respectfully.


We know it sounds juvenile, but please try to cause the least amount of ruckus as possible. No need to horse around with the person next to you. A synagogue is a sacred place of worship, not a gymnasium.

6. Try to keep conversation to a quiet whisper, if it needs to exist at all.


It's totally understandable to have some comment or question to make during the service, Jewish religious practices are obviously super interesting. However, keep it to the quietest whisper that you possibly can, there are plenty of other times to talk to your friends. Got a question about the service? We're sure anyone around you would be happy to answer it.

7. Please, please keep your cell phone off and out of sight.


There is no room for a cell phone in the service. Not only is texting during the service disrespectful to the people around you, but also your friend who has worked so hard for their special day. Not cool.

8. Please don't take photos in the synagogue.


This goes along with not having your cell phone out, there is a time and place for taking pictures, and the synagogue is not a place to take pictures in. Since bar and bat mitzvahs happen during Shabbat, which is the Jewish Sabbath and day of rest (electronic-free rest), there is no use of electronic devices in the synagogue.

9. The candy.


10. Respect your friend's hard work.


Your friend has worked countless hours and has waited at least a couple of years for this very day. Please be respectful and listen to their torah reading and following speech. Show your friend you care and support them by following these tips!

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