For many Jewish parents and grandparents, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah in Israel provides a young man or woman with an unbreakable link with what it means to be Jewish. Traveling together, members of family can effortlessly and positively influence their children’s attachment to their Jewish heritage as they experience together the phenomenal renaissance of their ancient homeland. Celebrating a Bar/Bat Mitzvah in Israel leaves treasured memories that last a lifetime.
A Bar/Bat Mitzvah is easy to arrange - whether individually, or by participating in a group tour where all the planning is done for you. This information will tell you all you need to know, and how to make arrangements.
TAKING A GROUP TOUR
More and more Jews considering a Bar/Bat Mitzvah in Israel leave the planning to the professionals. British tour operators, Jewish organizations, Federations, synagogues and specialty travel sponsors arrange group tours for families celebrating Bar/Bat Mitzvahs.
The obvious benefit of these trips for many families is the relief from the work and pressure of planning. Even more important, yet perhaps less obvious however, is that the Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebrants make friends with the other children with whom they’re sharing the identical event. It creates a special bond, reduces nervousness, and transforms what for some children is an ordeal, into a magical vacation. Indeed, it is a true vacation for the entire family, at the same time as it is a remarkable spiritual experience.
Tours are arranged during school vacations and, invariably, include special discounts, or even a free tour, for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebrant.
TAKING AN INDIVIDUAL TOUR
Many of these very same tour operators, organizations and travel sponsors can make individual arrangements, just for your family - similar to those for groups. Or they can custom-tailor your own itinerary. The advantage is that the planning is left to the professionals, while offering the privacy that some families prefer.
DOING IT YOURSELF
Of course, some parents who are familiar with Israel, or who have family and friends in Israel, may prefer to handle everything themselves. Here are some pointers: It is customary for a Bar Mitzvah celebrant to be at least 13 years and one day, according to the Hebrew Calendar, and for a Bat Mitzvah celebrant to be at least 12 years and one day.
The Israel Ministry of Tourism is delighted to provide a beautiful certificate to Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebrants. The certificate includes the celebrant’s name in personalized calligraphy, and is signed by both the Minister of Tourism and, if the ceremony takes place in the capital, also by the Mayor of Jerusalem. It is free of charge and perfect for framing. (If you are taking a group or individual tour with an experienced Bar/Bat Mitzvah tour operator/sponsor, this tour organizer will automatically make the arrangements for obtaining the certificate.) Requests for individual certificates for families planning the arrangements themselves must be made a minimum of 21 days in advance of the ceremony, by completing the form below.
BAR/BAT MITZVAH CEREMONY LOCATIONS
The Western Wall
Jerusalem’s Western Wall – known also as the Kotel – is the last remnant of the Temple destroyed by the Romans in the year 70 CE. As such, it has always been the central focus of Jewish prayer, hopes, dreams… and pilgrimage. Since 1967, when the Western Wall was liberated, the Jewish nation has been able to return to its most sacred site.
The Western Wall is a popular choice as a venue for Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations since it symbolizes Jewish spirit and heritage. Bar Mitzvah services are held on Monday and Thursday mornings when Torah portions are traditionally read. Services at the Western Wall are in the Orthodox tradition, and men and women have separate prayer areas.
The Western Wall Heritage Foundation offers a free service to help families with everything from initial planning of the event to helping conduct or explain the service. Additional assistance is available, including lending Tefillin (phylacteries) or Talitot (prayer shawls), and organizing a tour of the Western Wall Tunnels for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah child and family following the service.
For more information about the many options available for Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebrations at the Western Wall, see www.thekotel.org, or call 972-1599-515888
THE SOUTHERN WALL, JERUSALEM is no less holy than the Western Wall, for it is part of the remaining Southern enclosure of the Temple Mount. Private Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremonies may be held here. Unlike at the Western Wall, ceremonies are held according to your and your rabbi’s traditions - so men and women may celebrate, sit and pray together. The atmosphere is tranquil, the view of the Judean Hills and the Mount of Olives is haunting. The congregation sits on the ancient, stone Hulda Steps, the original stairs leading to the Second Temple. Your rabbi should make arrangements with the office in charge: "Chevra L’Pituach Mizrach Yerushalayim"
8 Shamai Street (POB 2395) Jerusalem 94631.
Telephone: 011-972-2-627-7550 or 011-972-2-625-4404
Fax: 011-972-2-627-7962 or 011-972-2-624-7137
THE WESTERN WALL TUNNELS
Excavated almost 30 years ago, the Western Wall tunnels are one of Israel’s most splendid archaeological discoveries. Their galleries enable visitors to comprehend the enormity of the Second Temple (a construction of such height and vastness that it dwarfs the Dome of The Rock). And they reveal the extraordinary depth of Jerusalem 2,000 years ago, enabling visitors to reach the nearest point accessible to the destroyed Temple’s Holy of Holies. Ceremonies here, like at the Western Wall, are strictly Orthodox.
To make arrangements: (Tel) 011-972-2-627-1333.
THE TOWER OF DAVID MUSEUM OF THE HISTORY OF JERUSALEM
Private Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremonies may be held in the historic courtyard and gardens of Jerusalem’s 2000+ year-old Citadel.
For information: (Tel) 011-972-2-627-4111
THE HURVA SYNAGOGUE , destroyed in the War of Independence in 1948, is now a simple and elegant memorial graced by a giant arch which soars against the blue sky in recollection of the synagogue’s shattered dome. It has become a symbol of the Jews’ return to our holiest city, and it is an ideal site for a private Bar/Bat Mitzvah service.
This 625-acre nature reserve dedicated to the restoration of the ecology of Biblical times lies between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It contains hundreds of species of trees, plants and vegetation mentioned in the Bible and Talmud: cedars and hyssop, olives, figs and pomegranates, grape vines, date palms and Jerusalem sage. It is also home to wild donkeys, ostriches, oryx, Golan wolves and fallow deer, easily spotted as visitors explore ancient olive and wine presses, and excavations revealing ancient threshing floors, cisterns and ritual baths. Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremonies can be Orthodox, Conservative, Reform or Reconstructionist and include a tour of the nature reserve that connects to the week’s Haftorah. Celebrations are held in Neot Kedumim’s 600-seat outdoor theater and vegetarian or dairy catering is available. Arrangements should be made by the Rabbi or travel agent with the Neot Kedumim Reservations Department:
ANY SYNAGOGUE OF YOUR CHOICE, IN JERUSALEM, OR ANYWHERE IN ISRAEL is also an ideal location for Bar/Bat Mitzvah, particularly if you wish to hold the ceremony on Shabbat. For specific information contact:
The Center for Conservative Judaism:
(Tel) 011-972-2-625-2529 (Fax) 011-972-2-623-4127
Har-El Reform Synagogue:
(Tel) 011-972-5-474-2314 (Fax) 011-972-2-623-4866
Movement for Progressive Judaism:
(Tel) 011-972-2-620-3477 (Fax) 011-972-2-620-3446
Jerusalem Connection Resource Center
(Tel/Fax) 011-972-2-627-1283, or
The Great Synagogue,
(Tel) 011-972-2-624-7112, (Fax) 011-972-2-623-3620
After the destruction of the Temple in 70, hundreds of Jewish refugees escaped from Jerusalem and fled to King Herod’s abandoned fortress-palace atop Mount Masada, near the Dead Sea. For three years, the refugees, known as "the Zealots," lived, farmed and prospered atop the mountain, taunting the Roman besiegers from its summit. When the Romans finally breached the refugees’ stronghold in the year 73, they discovered that 970 men, women and children had taken their own lives rather than becoming slaves. Masada was excavated in 1964 and has become one of Israel’s most prominent and most visited sites. For Israelis and for post-Holocaust Jews everywhere, it is a symbol of Israel’s self-reliance and determination that such atrocities will "never again" be committed against the Jewish people. Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremonies atop Masada are held in the remains of the Zealots’ Synagogue, arguably the world’s oldest synagogue still in use. Services here are conducted by the rabbi of your choice, according to Orthodox, Conservative, Reform or Reconstructionist tradition. Arrangements should be coordinated by your rabbi, travel agent or relative in Israel by contacting Masada National Park:
(Fax) 011-972-8-658-4464 or
Arad Tourist Center:
(Tel) 011-972-8-695-9333, (fax) 011-972-8-695-5052.
Bar/Bat Mitzvah certificates
The Israel Ministry of Tourism is delighted to provide a beautiful certificate to Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebrants. The certificate includes the celebrant's name in personalized calligraphy, and is signed by both the Minister of Tourism and, if the ceremony takes place in the capital, also by the Mayor of Jerusalem. It is free of charge and perfect for framing. (If you are taking a group or individual tour with an experienced Bar/Bat Mitzvah tour operator/sponsor, this tour organizer will automatically make the arrangements for obtaining the certificate.)
Requests for individual certificates for families planning the arrangements themselves must be made a minimum of 21 days in advance of the ceremony, by completing the form below.
For Bar-Bat Mitzva certificat application form click here