For information and bookings, call Yosl Kurland
at 413-624-3204 or email us at email@example.com
The parents of the bas mitzve were talking with the caterer to plan their event, when the caterer asked, "and what do you plan to have as the theme of your daughter's bas mitzve?"
Mother and father looked a little puzzled. "Theme? What do you mean, theme?" said the father.
"You know," answered the caterer, "Some people have sports for a theme, some have a candy shop theme, some have movie theme with each corner of the room decorated like a different movie set."
The parents still looked puzzled. Then the mother's face lit up. "Oh, the theme!" she said with a twinkle in her eye. "The theme of our daughter's party is that she is now at the age where she assumes the responsibilities of an adult in the Jewish community, when he or she is expected to fulfill the commandments, and to take part as an adult in Jewish religious life. That's the theme of our celebration!"
The father nodded in agreement, and the caterer was now the one with the puzzled look.
A bar or bas A bar or bas mitzve literally means a son or daughter of the commandments. Whether there is a celebration or not, a boy becomes a bar mitzve at the age of thirteen and a girl becomes a bas mitzve at the age of twelve. The event is observed by calling the bar or bas mitzve to read from the torah and haftorah, and often by their leading the Shabbos morning service. And then...how will you celebrate with your friends and family.?
After the kiddush, consider celebrating with a joyous, heymish celebration of Yiddishkayt–Jewishness, with traditional Jewish music and dancing, storytelling and rituals, continuing the religious/cultural experience of the morning service.
Dancing to traditional Yiddish klezmer music is fun, builds community and connection, and is easy enough to do. It doesn't require lessons, though some groups benefit from dance-leading. The Wholesale Klezmer Band offers the following:
leading circle and line dances traditional for klezmer music, with gentle encouragement for guests unfamiliar with the dancing.
entertaining your guests with Yiddish songs and storytelling that bring Jewish values, humor and experience to the celebration.
time for quiet klezmer background music while your guests gather and shmues with each other.
help in planning meaningful rituals that include the guests.
presentation of Yiddish material in such a way that people who don't understand Yiddish, and who are unfamiliar with Judaism, will feel included.
We watch to see just how much dance-leading and encouragement is needed. We communicate with you and the caterer to know when to dance if or when stories and songs are appropriate, and whether the plans need revision at a moment's notice. We're sensitive to keeping the music quiet enough for your guests comfort, and for there to be times of silence during the meal so that your guests can comfortably talk with each other.
You may be concerned about whether this kind of performance will appeal to and keep a group of Jewish and non-Jewish teenagers entertained and occupied. Youngsters who aren't Jewish may not have any concept of what this is all about, and Jewish kids may not be used to this style of celebration. We have, on occasion, coordinated an event with a DJ or another type of band. When available, one of our band members is a DJ.
The process starts with how you express the meaning of this simkhe to your children, so that they can express it to their friends. Does your child feel the cultural/religious significance of bar/bas mitzve? If you have already imparted this message to your kids, then the next step is to give them the confidence to explain it to their peers. Sometimes it is easier to get the message across to those of their friends who aren't Jewish than to some who are.
Kids behave best when they know what to expect, when they know what is expected of them, and when they feel they are included in the decision making. Here are some suggestions:
Ask your child to help plan the celebration to make it reflect Jewish values. In addition to music, you may want to include something ceremonial. One particularly beautiful, meaningful ceremony for evening events that we have led is built around a havdalah ritual, during which relatives and family friends pass around havdalah candles and speak wise words and blessings to the bar or bas mitzve.
Go over the descriptions of traditional Jewish dances that you'll find in this brochure with your child. Ask which of the special dances they would like to participate in, and which people they would like to have honored in the dances. Have your child participate in deciding about entertainment in the form of songs and stories.
Talk with us about the amount of dance leadership and teaching you want to have provided, but don't feel bad if the teenagers don't all get up to dance. Many of them are shy about trying something new. We've found that having masks or hats gives them a chance to lose their self-consciousness. At one bar mitzvah, the multi-colored napkins on the table was all they needed, they tied them over their hair and had a great time.
Your child's modeling of attentive and participatory behavior will encourage their friends to participate.
Avoid over-organizing the celebration. It's okay for the kids to enjoy talking with each other without having planned activities every minute. Having a chance to talk with family and friends is, after all, much of what any celebration is about.
If your child or family members play instruments, we'll be happy to supply you with music if they'd like to learn a couple of tunes to play along with us.
In the old country, instrumental music was not traditional at bar mitzves. The klezmer band came to prominence performing at weddings and traditional dances developed in that context. At a modern bar or bas mitzve celebration with a klezmer band, dances can be adapted from wedding customs.
The bar or bas mitzve is lifted on a chair. Parents or other relatives may take a turn being lifted also. Plan in advance so those who lift the chairs know to have taller people in the front so the chair leans back, and those lifted in the chair won't feel like they are falling.
The assembled company take turns in the center of the circle, dancing to entertain the bar or bas mitzve.
Dancers demonstrate in mime the things that the bar or bas mitzve should know about in their new stage in life.
The Broiges Tants, or dance of anger and reconciliation, is traditionally performed by the mothers of the bride and groom at a wedding. At a bar or bas mitzve it can still be an entertaining lesson in how to deal with anger. If no one among family or friends know how to do one, we can do it for you or teach you in advance, or teach all the kids how to do it.
When you send your invitations, include a suggestion that guests bring handmade or hand-painted masks, streamers, banners, costumes, props or any colorful aids to honor the bar or bas mitzve in their dancing.
In addition to traditional Jewish dances, there are Yiddish waltzes, polkas and tunes to which free-form dances may be done. Miserlu, a Greek-American dance is often played at Jewish simkhes.
We'll be delighted to help you plan your simkhe to be a joyous and thoroughly Jewish event.
The Wholesale Klezmer Band's simkhe advisors are happy to help you plan the way dance and entertainment fit into your celebration.
You can listen to some samples of our music online by clicking on these links or ask us to send you a demo copy of one of our CDs or tapes by calling For information and bookings Joe Kurland at 413-624-3204 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Are You Thinking about Invitations?
Wholesale Klezmer Band's flautist, Peggy Davis, is also a Hebrew calligrapher who designs beautiful and meaningful invitations and gifts (including gifts for your child's teachers) for Jewish life cycle events. Please have a look at samples of her work.
I realized that I never thanked you all, after the fact, for the wonderful performance for Shaina's bas mitzvah. You were terrific, and everyone enjoyed your playing! In fact, I gave your name and number to...
Barbara Low, Lincoln, MA
I just want to say, THANK YOU, (again) for the wonderful job you folks did at Andy's Bar Mitzvah. It was great! We are still glowing with the memories of that day. Thank you for playing your part so well.
Cynthia Eid, Lexington, MA
For help planning your celebration, call:
Yosl Kurland 413-624-3204
Click here to go back to table of contents