The Role of Parents in the Bar Mitzvah CelebrationParents play a vital role in the growing up years of their children. The support and guidance they provide have a great impact on the way their kids carry their more mature responsibilities in life as they enter the age of puberty. In a bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah celebration, parents are taking a more active role today unlike before.
Traditionally, only the father participates in the worship service by reciting a blessing and declaring that his or her child is now responsible for his actions based on the Jewish law. Also, the girl celebrant or bat mitzvah does not take part in the service.
As the Jewish around the world become more liberal, both parents are now allowed to say the blessing, usually an expression of gratitude to God for gift of life and the opportunity to celebrate the occasion. They also assume other roles such as presenting a prayer shawl or tallit to their child and leading certain portions of the religious service. These roles, however, may vary from one synagogue to another.
- Presentation of the tallit. This prayer shawl is worn by adult Jews beyond the age of 12 or 13. Some wear it only when they get married. In recent years, itís been customary for parents to present a tallit to a bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah in public as the celebrant attends his first worship service as an adult. The parents may also offer short words of wisdom to their child.
- Passing the Torah. Grandparents and parents are often invited to pass on the Torah from one generation to another as this Jewish bible is removed from the ark. This act, which symbolizes the continuity of the Jewish tradition in families, is normally done at the pulpit of the synagogue.
- Receiving an aliyah. An aliyah refers to being called to the Torah at a Shabbat morning service for the purpose of reciting the blessings before and after the ritual chanting of the weekly Torah reading. This is a major task of the bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah. These days, parents also receive an aliyah as they are being honored by their child at the reading table.
- Leading worship services. The celebrantís family members including parents, siblings and even the extended family members may be asked to lead a particular portion of the worship service. Other tasks may be to lead English readings or chant sections of the weekly Torah reading.
- Making speeches. Parents may be asked to share inspirational words and blessings with their child before the Jewish community after the worship services. It is during this part that the parents publicly declare their child to be responsible adults who will follow not only the Jewish law but the religious commandments as well as he or she now becomes of age.
- Teaching of social etiquette. As more teens celebrate their bar mitzvah / bat mitzvah with a party, parents are responsible for teaching them the proper way to behave and dress up not only for the party but even for the religious service. Boys are expected to wear sport coats or suits while girls should wear shul clothes and avoid the strapless or the low-cut styles. They should also be made aware the right way to respond to bar mitzvah / bat mitzvah invitations they will receive in the future and the value of charity giving which has become a popular trend today during this occasion.
Read more articles on the subject: Planning a Bar Mitzvah