bar mitzvah, bat mitzvah planning guide
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Bar/Bat Mitzvah Candle Lighting Tips
Keep candle lighting poems/sayings short. Rhymes are not necessary, but they can be entertaining.
Borrow another family's sayings or poems if you are having trouble developing your own; most people don't mind sharing (just substitute your family's and friends' names).
Group several lightings together in order to use the same song for groups of friends or cousins, like "We are Family" or the theme from Beaches. This will help the DJ/band transition between the candle lighters. Your Master of Ceremonies may need these song selections several days before the event.
Some families offer a small token gift or something personalized to the honorees.
You could plant a tree in Israel for each of the honorees and hand them the certificate when they are called to light a candle.
Some families light a candle in memory of a recently deceased relative or a close relative/guest who could not be there that day.

What is a "Simcha Quilt"?
Ideas inspired by Kathy Elias

"At my older son's party, which was in the evening, we had a "Simcha Quilt" that I made. (Actually, I went on to try to market the quilts, but that's another story). It had a decoration in the center, (which was a print of the graphic I used on his invitation), and space all around it for people to sign the quilt and write messages. My son had something to say about each person, as in a candle-lighting ceremony, but instead of lighting a candle they signed the quilt. He was able to also call up groups of people, so that eventually every person at the reception was recognized and signed it and wrote him messages or blessings. Then the kids spent the rest of the evening "decorating" it by drawing inside the empty spaces. It is beautiful. I've seen a company that sells quilts like the one I designed, and they might want to advertise with you. (My business is currently defunct.)

If you don't want to violate Shabbat by lighting candles or writing, you can have a wine-pouring ceremony. Instead of candles, there are tiny cups of wine on the table. The bar/bat mitzvah child holds a large Kiddush cup, and calls up people who then pour their small cups into the large cup. At the end, with the large cup full, the child says Kiddush.

I have also seen a company that sold puzzle pieces that the people who the child recognizes bring up front and put together. It seems to me that you can also have a party planner make some kind of decorated board, like a sign-in board, with additional pieces that can be velcroed on. You would hand out the puzzle pieces or velcro pieces beforehand. These pieces can also have space on them for people to write messages, a blessing, or a family story beforehand. That way, you are still not violating Shabbat, but you are getting something written from each person.

At my twins' b'nai mitzvah, we had no ceremony. Instead, my older son and I did a humorous "schtick" that explained the differences between the two boys. And our sons then gave a beautiful speech that thanked every special person in their lives. I decided that no special ceremony was required to recognize our family and friends."

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