In the Jewish tradition, a boy comes of age when he reaches the age of 13 and becomes a bar mitzvah with the rights and responsibilities of a man. The term bar mitzvah also refers to the religious ceremony itself; a bat mitzvah is the equivalent ceremony for girls, and both are often occasions for big celebrations.
The tradition of following the religious bar mitzvah ceremony with a party is a relatively recent one. Even newer is the idea of traveling away from home for a destination bar or bat mitzvah—perhaps in a historic synagogue on a Caribbean island, or in Mexico, Italy, or at a Colorado ski resort, or on a cruise ship.
Some reasons families might choose a bar or bat mitzvah far from home include:
- Grandparents, uncles, cousins live in different cities, so many family members are traveling already.
- The boy or girl may be nervous about reading the Torah aloud in front of hundreds of people at a local temple
- The boy or girl may prefer a more low-key event with a smaller, more intimate group
- The distant locale has the opportunity to be a much less pressured event.
- Families may also want to escape the pressure to stage a lavish bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah party after the ceremony. (In some circles, live bands and fancy catering are just the starting point.)
- The expense of a destination bar or bat mitzvah may be much less than the budget for a local celebration.
- Families may want to extend their stay after the ceremony and celebration and enjoy a family vacation.
Planning a Destination Bar or Bat Mitzvah
There are travel companies that can make all the arrangements needed for a bar or bat mitzvah, from booking the rabbi to booking the hotels and meals. You can check out destination bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah ideas at barmitzvahvacations.com.
If you are considering a Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration in the Holy Land, you should consult the Israel Ministry of Tourism website for an overview of options and a host of resources. Also, consider which destination in Israel you would like to hold the ceremony.
Another popular option is to have a mitzvah on a cruise. Destination Mitzvahs partners with 17 cruise lines and three all-inclusive resort chains and can arrange a ceremony on a beach, at a resort, in a port of call, or even on the ship.
Consider whether to offer traveling expenses to guests, or whether will be responsible for their own travel. Also, consider whether to request that guests send gifts to your home or bring them to the destination bar mitzvah.