You may be wondering what to wear to a bar mitzvah, don't freak out. If you have been invited to this special event by a friend or family member, it is important to dress appropriately for this notable and happy occasion.
First, consider the type of synagogue where you will attend the worship service. Clothing that is appropriate in a liberal synagogue may not be acceptable in a highly orthodox synagogue or conservative congregation. Since expectations vary depending upon the community, be sure to contact your host family for suggestions or clarification.
The online site “My Jewish Learning” presents an excellent and thorough guide on synagogue environment, behavior, and expectations for bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah guests. Whether or not you are Jewish, our brief three-point guide will help you feel more comfortable at the worship service and throughout the celebration.
- Dress. Guests usually dress up for a bar-mitzvah celebration. Women wear modest dresses, skirts and blouses, or formal pantsuits. Men should wear a suit and tie, or dress slacks, tie, and jacket. Clothing choices will be dressier and more formal in traditional communities.
- Prayer Shawl. Jewish men traditionally wear a prayer shawl or “tallit” during a bar-mitzvah service. In liberal congregations, women often wear prayer shawls, too. The knotted fringes on the shawl’s corners are a reminder to observe the commandments of Judaism. Therefore, the prayer shawl is reserved for Jews. Although an usher may offer a tallit at the door, a non-Jewish guest may decline it.
- Head covering. Men traditionally wear a head covering called a “kippah” (or “yarmulke” in Yiddish) during the worship service. In liberal congregations, women sometimes wear a head covering, too. Some women wear hats or lace coverings. While the tallit is a symbol of religious identification, the kippah is an act of respect to God.
We hope you find this brief guide helpful in deciding what to wear to a bar mitzvah. And we wish your friend or family “Mazel Tov” (congratulations and good luck) on this joyous occasion.