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Symbols to Know for Your Bar Mitzvah from Venues in NJ

Symbols to Know for Your Bar Mitzvah from Venues in NJ

For thousands of years, the history of humankind involved many rituals and rites of passages. They marked a connection to something greater than our mundane lives. Rituals and rites of passage served as ways to bring purpose, ceremony, and celebration into people’s lives. Cultures around the world had various ways of acknowledging these significant times of people’s lives. The sense of community was strengthened as these rites of passages were generally acknowledged and honored with family and friends.

For the most part, rituals and rites of passage are either a thing of the past, or associated only with very religious parts of society. It is unfortunate because so many people in our culture yearn for a sense of belonging, community, and purpose.

The Jewish culture still holds their rites of passages and their rituals to a high standard. One prime example, is the still strong practice of celebrating Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. This rite of passage marks a transition from adolescence into young adulthood, around the age of 12 or 13. A Bar Mitzvah is the term used for a male, and a Bat Mitzvah is the term used for a female.

Bar Mitzvahs, the term generally used to refer to both Bar and Bat, begin with ceremonies at temples or synagogues, and then receptions follow at Bar Mitzvah venues. NJ is host to many beautiful temples and synagogues, and to many suitable Bar Mitzvah venues. NJ, according to a 2018 consensus, has a population of 6.1% Jewish people. This considerable amount of Jews makes for Bar Mitzvah venues in NJ that know how to accommodate this special rite of passage.

The rite of passage for Bar and Bat Mitzvahs include many significant symbols that have been passed down throughout thousands of years. Taking a look at these symbols is one of the best ways to understand the complex and meaningful rituals that occur throughout the ceremony and reception for Bar Mitzvahs. Bar Mitzvah venues of NJ are well-versed in these symbols and honor the cultural significance that these symbols carry. Once you are familiar with these symbols, you will be adept at choosing a theme for your Bar Mitzvah.

The 10 Most Meaningful Symbols of a Bar Mitzvah:

The Torah : Translated from Hebrew, the Torah means “doctrine” or “guidance”. It is an ancient and very sacred scroll of text that defines the Jewish religion. Torahs are handwritten and thus very delicate. Within the scroll, one will find the whole story of creation, the mass exodus of Jews from Egypt, and numerous stories that exemplify right from wrong. Because Torahs are considered so sacred, they are only kept in temples. During the service portion of the Bar Mitzvah, the Bar or Bat Mitzvah will read an excerpt from the Torah. It takes years to prep the students for this part of the service. They need to learn how to read the Hebrew letters and how to share the excerpt during the religious service they lead. The Bar Mitzvah venues in NJ will not be able to house a Torah, but it will still play an important part of the Bar Mitzvah process.

Yad : A yad is translated to “hand” from Hebrew to English. Rather than pointing to a Torah with one’s hand or finger, you use a yad as a pointer. This protects the Torah from damage, oil and dirt. For very religious students, a yad makes a wonderful gift. They can be ornate and make a meaningful and useful gift.

Kippa :  A kippa, also known as a yamaka, literally translates to “dome.”  They are small circular head pieces that come in many colors and patterns and are worn by men once they are bar mitzvahed. The kippa represents a covenant you are keeping with god to be a religious man. Having this fabric always upon your head, reminds men that god is watching from up above. It is a gentle and steady reminder to be a devout and moralistic man that does good deeds and stays committed to his religion. For your bar mitzvah, you can create custom kippas that match the theme and colors of your bar mitzvah. Your bar mitzvah venue, like The Brick House in Wyckoff NJ, will gladly help you visualize a personalized theme and color palette.

Tallit : A tallit literally translates to a “prayer shawl.”  This symbol is incorporated mainly into the ceremony portion at the synagogue. So generally, a tallit will not be worn while at the Bar Mitzvah venues of NJ that host your reception. The tallit is made from wool and only worn by the males during prayer service. Before draping the tallit on your shoulders, you must say a specific prayer, that also happens to be embroidered into the garment. Another interesting fact about the tallit, is that it has 613 knots. Each knot symbolizes one of the 613 mitzvahs, or “good deeds,” you must now complete through our your lifetime after being bar mitzvahed.

Shabbat Candles : Shabbat is the Jewish day of rest. It begins at sundown on Friday and ends after sundown on Saturday. It is common to gift the Bar or Bat Mitzvah shabbat candles, because once you are bar mitzvahed, you are responsible for lighting your own candles, and saying the appropriate prayers on each weekly shabbat. The light from the candles is said to bring warmth and harmony into the home. Traditionally, the women were responsible for lighting the candles and saying the specific prayer, while men were responsible for filling the Kiddish Cup and saying that particular prayer. Most venues in NJ will be happy to display shabbat candles.

Tefillin :This translates literally as “to guard or protect.” It is a pair of small black boxes with straps attached, that have parchment scrolls inside. The scrolls inside the boxes are inscribed with prayers from the Torah. They are worn around the arm and head and represent a physical connection between man and god. Deuteronomy 11:18 states, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.”

Kiddush Cup : The Kiddush is a verbalized, sometimes sung, prayer that blesses the wine. The Kiddush cup is the cup that holds the blessed wine. Wine holds a special value in many Jewish holidays. For this reason, it is wise to choose a Bar Mitzvah venue in NJ that has a great wine selection. The Brick House in Wyckoff, for example, is owned and managed by an Italian wine sommelier. Kiddush cups are very ornate and beautiful, inspiring the drinker to drink fine wines out of it.

Star of David : The Star of David is a 6 pointed star that is perhaps the most widely recognized symbol of Jewish culture. It is formed by two triangles, one upright overlapping one upside down. As a widely recognized symbol of Jewish culture, you will likely want to incorporate this star into your Bar Mitzvah decor at the reception.

Chai : Pronounced with a hard “ch” sound that is not naturally found in the English language, chai translates to “life.” It represents the number 18, which is a common theme throughout Bar Mitzvahs. For example, you generally gift money in increments of 18. Also, you often see the Hebrew letters for chai in jewelry.

Tree of life : The tree of life is an ancient symbol rooted from the Kaballah tradition. Kaballah is considered a mystical sect of Judaism. The tree of life is essentially a diagram that represents the interconnectedness of 10 different principles, or spheres. These principles indicate how god manifests himself into the world. The tree of life is often incorporated into jewelry and decor. Discuss this element of Judaism with the Bar Mitzvah venues of NJ so that they can help tie this element into your chosen theme.

Now that you know the top symbols associated with a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, you can have fun choosing a theme that best suits you. These symbols can all be incorporated into almost any theme. It is natural to choose a theme based on a hobby or passion of the one passing through their special rite of passage. A theme can be as simple as a color scheme, or as elaborate as you’d like. Common themes include music/Broadway, sports, animals or ecosystems like the jungle, a luau, travel or even a beach or winter theme. The event planner at the Bar Mitzvah venue will certainly have some great insight. The theme is a really fun and creative part of the process that modernizes this age-old ritual that marks youth transitioning into young adulthood.

A venue like The Brick House will host a classy reception with delicious food, ambient lighting, your preferred musical tunes, and of course an incredible selection of desserts and wines. They have space for fun and games for the young adults, and cigars and fine wines for the older adults. The Brick House has hosted Bar Mitzvah celebrations in the past, and will be more than competent at helping you host this special celebration.

Mazel Tov!

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