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Jewish Mamas: help me write bat mitzvah info for our non-Jewish friends

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

 

Our DD is becoming a bat mitzvah in a few months and I'm preparing the invitations this week. I've been wanting to put together a short info sheet to include with invites for our non-Jewish friends, many of whom have no idea what it means to be Jewish, let alone to become a bat mitzvah. DD has a friend whose mom sent out something similar, but much briefer, and I want ours to be a bit engaging/funny, etc. So here's what I have so far, but please, I'd love your input. It's not what I want yet...needs something, but I can't figure out what it is.

BTW: we are a reform congregation, if that makes any difference.

 

Bat Mitzvah Information (or What Does All This Mean & What Part Do I Play In It?)

We are so happy and honored that you’ll join our family as (DD) becomes a Bat Mitzvah. We want you to feel a part of the service and the festivities, so to this end, we’ve prepared a bit of a bat mitzvah “cheat sheet” for our non-Jewish friends.

 

You may have heard of someone “having” a bat mitzvah, but actually at the age of 13, a Jewish girl who has studied and prepared “becomes a bat mitzvah.” The words “bat mitzvah” mean “daughter of the commandments” in Hebrew (boys become a bar mitzvah, which means “son of the commandments”). And In case you’re wondering, it’s pronounced “baht” (not “bat” like you use to hit a baseball) “mitz-vah” (with emphasis on the “vah”).

 

While Jewish boys have been taking part in this sacred coming of age ritual since biblical times, the first Jewish girl to become a bat mitzvah in the US was in 1922. This is a very important day for (DD); she began learning Hebrew in kindergarten, and has studied for many years in preparation to lead the service.

 

(DD) is only the 3rd generation of girls in our family to become a bat mitzvah. When the service is finished, she will be considered an adult in the eyes of our faith, and will have certain privileges and responsibilities she did not have before.

 

Although you may not be familiar with the customs and Hebrew words, your presence at the service will be a great source of support for (DD), and is important to our whole family. So THANK YOU for coming!

 

Temple Etiquette

We think you’ll find that our synagogue (or temple) is very similar to most churches or temples of any denomination you may have visited. In general, our synagogue is a warm, welcoming place. Please don’t worry that you don’t speak Hebrew, or can’t sing along with the songs. If you’re moved to hum along, go right ahead! Alternately, just listening quietly is perfectly fine.

Here are a few more guidelines that you may find helpful:

 

  • Please arrive by 10:15 am. Services will start promptly at 10:30 am and end at 12:15 pm
  • There will be a light luncheon at the temple after services. Parents, please pick up your children at 1:00 pm
  • Dress for girls & women: dress, skirt or nice pants outfit with a top that covers your shoulders. That cute super-short skirt you wear to the middle school dance is great for the evening party, but please wear something that covers the tops of your legs for morning services.
  • Dress for boys & men: nice slacks and a dress shirt. Jackets and ties are optional. Suits are probably too much, but if you’re a dressy kind of guy, go ahead and wear one.
  • Please no texting during services. Turn off the ringer on your cell phone before entering the sanctuary. Better yet, go old school and put your phone in your pocket or purse and just leave it there until the service is over.
  • Please avoid going in and out during the service, as this will be distracting to (DD) and the rest of the community. Plus, you’ll miss seeing (DD) do her thing and that’s what you came for in the first place, right?
  •  

The Party: Saturday Evening

The party is just a big party, like a quincinera or a sweet 16. Wear your dressy party clothes and your dancing shoes and enjoy good food and good fun in honor of (DD).

post #2 of 4

Congratulations on this upcoming happy milestone for your DD and your whole family! :joy

 

It looks like your post was missed. Anyone have advice to share?

From my perspective (if you don't mind an opinion from a non-Jewish mama), I think it looks nice overall, but I would suggest leaving off these bullet points:

Quote:
  • Please no texting during services. Turn off the ringer on your cell phone before entering the sanctuary. Better yet, go old school and put your phone in your pocket or purse and just leave it there until the service is over.
  • Please avoid going in and out during the service, as this will be distracting to (DD) and the rest of the community. Plus, you’ll miss seeing (DD) do her thing and that’s what you came for in the first place, right?
  •  

I hope that helps and I hope your event is wonderful!

post #3 of 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyHappyMommy View Post
 

Congratulations on this upcoming happy milestone for your DD and your whole family! :joy

 

It looks like your post was missed. Anyone have advice to share?

From my perspective (if you don't mind an opinion from a non-Jewish mama), I think it looks nice overall, but I would suggest leaving off these bullet points:

I hope that helps and I hope your event is wonderful!

 

 

Sadly, those 2 bullet points are quite necessary.  And I'd be stricter on those dress codes; kids really don't know what to wear to synagogue--or church for that matter.

 

I'd add a section on when to stand and sit.

 

There's a nice book (actually a 2 volume set) called How to Be a Perfect Stranger that you might be able to find at your library.  It's about how to behave at others' religious meetings.  Great book.  It might contain some of the information you're looking for.

 

Long time no see.  I haven't been to MDC for quite a while.

 

Mazal tov!!!

post #4 of 4

I'm sure this is too late, but if not, I think this is both a beautiful explanation of traditions around becoming Bat Mitzvah and an inclusive list of etiquette pointers. Having worked with young people for years (I'm a physician and part-time college instructor; at the college where I teach, there's a program that permits high-school students to complete an Associates Degree upon graduation from high school, so I've had a lot of adolescents in my classes), I agree with you that it's better to include requests on refraining from texting during services than to leave them out, relying on the good sense (and manners) of attendees. Young people who've grown up with such technology usually don't intend to be rude, but they may need a reminder about expected behavior in more traditional settings. (This goes for some not-so-young people too, alas.)

 

Mazel Tov to your daughter!

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