This Is What to Wear to a Bar Mitzvah

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A bar mitzvah is a celebration of a boy entering a new stage of their life. Technically it is a status, not an event, but people often throw a party to mark the occasion. A bat mitzvah is much the same, but for girls.

The young person’s actions become more significant, as they are now considered responsible for upholding the commandments (mitzvot) of the Torah.

How do you know what to wear to a bar mitzvah? It’s a valid question, especially if you’re not familiar with Jewish tradition. Today we’re here to help you address it!

Research the Community in Question

The first thing to understand is that Jews, like all people, can vary quite a lot. Depending on the religious sect of the person in question, expectations can vary. Bar mitzvah clothes and bat mitzvah clothes don’t all look the same community to community.

Men can expect more or less the same expectations in most communities but should still do research. Women will see some more variation depending on the temple they are going to. In more conservative communities, they may be expected to wear hats and long dresses, avoiding pants.

It’s never a bad idea to just call the family who invited you and ask for ideas! They’ll be able to help you gauge what’s expected of you.

You should research other bar and bat mitzvah customs too. For example, learn how much money to give for bar mitzvah here! 

Dressy & Respectful is a Good Bet

As a rule, dressy but somewhat conservative clothing will make for a good choice when going to a bar mitzvah. In almost all congregations, clothing expectations will be based on gender.

Men will be expected to wear a suit or slacks, a tie, and a jacket. They will want to avoid “showy” suits, sticking with traditional, formal color schemes. 

There will be more variance in what is expected of women. As touched on above, some communities may expect women only to wear dresses while others may allow less traditional formal wear, such as pantsuits. Excess showing of the legs or shoulders should be avoided.

Kippah but (Arguably) No Tallit

The kippah (also called a yarmulke/yamaka) is a head garment worn by men and, in some communities, women during temple service. This is a non-denominational garment that is almost always provided for free at the temple. If you see other people of your gender wearing one, you should wear one as well.

The bigger question is whether non-Jews should wear a tallit, or prayer shawl. This is a more important piece of religious garb and, if you’re offered one, you should mention you’re a non-Jew and ask if it is still appropriate for you to wear it.

Many, but not all, Jews argue only Jews should wear a tallit and you should respect the beliefs of the practitioners at the temple you’re visiting.

Of course, never pretend to be a Jew just to be more involved in a given ceremony. It’s both disrespectful and will often be obvious too.

Now You Know What to Wear to a Bar Mitzvah!

Now you know what to wear to a bar mitzvah! The requirements aren’t usually too demanding; conservative formal wear should get you most of the way there in the majority of cases. Beyond that, just be respectful of religious customs.

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