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Bar Mitzvah 101

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Bar Mitzvah in Israel

Our Bar Mitzvah in Israel website is a free online resource for planning a Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah party in Israel

Alternative Ceremonies to Candle Lighting

The candle lighting ceremony is a standard event in a bar or bat mitzvah celebration. This is normally led by the celebrant by first making a speech that may include some verses or poems. Although thereís no fixed rule as to the number of candles that should be used, most mitzvah events involve 14 candles which are lighted by the honorees composed of the celebrantís family members, relatives and close friends.

It should be noted, however, that this ceremony does not actually fulfill any Jewish commandment. It is just that -- a purely symbolic ceremony which encourages people who know the bar or bat mitzvah to give their wishes. For those who do not wish to follow tradition, there are other alternative ceremonies that can be done according to their free will.

Cup of Life

One popular alternative to the candle lighting ceremony for a bar or bat mitzvah celebration is the so-called ďCup of LifeĒ rite. Created by Rabbi Anchelle Perl, the ceremony involves 14 small cups of grape juice or wine. The 13 cups symbolize the celebrantís 13 years while the extra cup is for good luck.

During this rite, each honoree pours the content of his cup into a large brandy snifter or any big goblet. At the end, the bar mitzvah recites kuddish and drinks from the snifter. The order of guests to take part can be the same as that of the candle lighting starting from the grandparents, followed by aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, siblings and parents. Each honoree can say a few words of well wishes while pouring their juice or wine into the Cup of Life. Songs can also played as the pouring is being done.

Each cup in this ceremony is meant to symbolize the important ingredients for a good life such as wisdom, faith, good health, compassion, good humor, dedication, success, prosperity, generosity, friendship, love, virtue and happiness. But of course, these symbols can always be modified.

Donations to Charity

Another modern way that can take the place of a candle lighting ceremony is a donation to charity. This event should encourage guests to donate to a charitable organization to be chosen by the celebrant. The honorees can be informed in advance about this ceremony especially if they need to bring something.

Instead of bringing their birthday gifts for the bar or bat mitzvah, they can bring gift baskets filled with items, say, canned food or used clothing to be given to a specific charity. This act is admirable as it develops among the youngsters the value of sharing with the less fortunate people in their community.

Wish Ceremony

For those who want to do away with the candle lighting rite, a wish ceremony can be done instead. Each honoree is required to make a short wish for the bar or bat mitzvah as he or she enters adulthood. Those who are to give their wishes should be informed in advance so they can prepare well for what they will have to say during the celebration.

Creativity is important in making this celebration a success and a memorable one for your child. You can even start a new ceremony if you want to be unique.

Read more articles on the subject: Bar Mitzvah Traditions Still Being Observed Today

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