Bar/Bat Mitzvah in Israel: How to Plan an Unforgettable Trip (2019)

Everyone, get your cameras out… it’s time to polish that Instagram feed with awesome pictures from Israel that’ll make your kid’s classmates (and their parents) drool out of envy!

STOP.

As crazy as it sounds – these days, Bar & Bat Mitzvah celebrations focus mostly on style, rather than substance.

We live in a world dominated by social media, where our kids are constantly trying to keep up with the Joneses (or Cohen’s), only to find themselves participating in this never-ending popularity contest called a “Bar/Bat Mitzvah party”… and guess who’s left holding the bill? (hint: look in the mirror)

Is there a way out of that madness? Yes indeed – celebrating your kid’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah in Israel!

A Bar/Bat Mitzvah trip to Israel is a breath of fresh air for parents who prefer an alternative path. A path that doesn’t involve stress, chaos, and a party that ends up costing you an arm and a leg.

A path that gives your kids the chance to (among others):

  • Take a break from the noisy world we live in and discover the spiritual side of the Bar or Bat Mitzvah ceremony
  • Discover their Jewish tradition, learn about Israel’s rich history and heritage, and visit the iconic sites they read about in the bible
  • Form their identity as a young adult based on eternal Jewish values (as opposed to Marvel superheroes)

Quite a different experience, don’t you think?

Now, the BIG question is:

“How do I plan a meaningful Bar/Bat Mitzvah trip? Where should we go? What should we do?”

(OK, those are 3 questions… but you get my point)

These are actual questions I’ve been getting from our readers for a while now… so I figured it’s about time I answered these questions and give parents some ideas on how to plan the Bar/Bat Mitzvah trip of a lifetime… so here we are 🙂

(It took me over a week to write it, so you better like it!)

Fasten your seatbelt ladies and gentleman. We’re ready for takeoff!

Planning a Bar/Bat Mitzvah Trip to Israel

Trump Visit To Israel
“Can I interest you in a camel ride, Mr. President?”

There are three ways to plan a Bar/Bat Mitzvah trip:

  1. Booking a Bar/Bat Mitzvah tour to Israel
  2. Joining a group tour
  3. Traveling on your own (DIY)

Which option should you choose?

The short (and annoying) answer is: it depends.

  • How long are you staying for?
  • What is your budget? (check out the estimated costs table below)
  • Is this your (or your family’s) first time in Israel?
  • Do you prefer traveling with other people or on your own?
  • Are you planning to do a lot of sightseeing, or do you prefer a chilled vacation on the beach?

These are just a few of the questions you should ask yourself before you board the plane.

Let’s look at each option individually and find out which one fits best for you and your family.

Booking a Private Bar/Bat Mitzvah Tour to Israel

Licked By Camel In Israel
Image by Misha Yurasov

The best thing about a family tour is flexibility. The tour operator can design a custom itinerary just for you and your family:

  • Celebrate the Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony in the Kotel? Of course!
  • Want to ride a camel (and get licked by one)? Sure thing!
  • Rafting in the Jordan river? Why not!
  • Go on a Hummus tour in Jaffa? Yummy (make sure to loosen your belt)!
  • Visit the best markets in Jerusalem and bargain with the merchants just for the sake of it? Sababa!
  • Buy the best Israeli wine in the supermarket? Screw that! Let’s go to the finest wineries in the Galilee!

Whatever floats your boat!

What’s that? Do you want boats? No problem – you can rent a sailing boat in the marina and go on a sail!

With a private Bar/Bat Mitzvah tour – your wish is their command. Simply tell the tour organizer what you and your kids like, what you don’t like, what you’re interested in – and they’ll plan the perfect trip just for you.

In other words: they take care of e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, all you have to do is show up.

Tip: Be open to the tour organizer’s suggestions. More often than not they know what places you’ll like better than you ever could. Tell them what you and your kids like, what they don’t like, what your budget is – and let them suggest a custom itinerary tailor-made for your needs.

More good news: because so many families prefer celebrating their kid’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah in Israel these days, there’s no shortage of tour operators offering amazing Bar & Bat Mitzvah tours. That means more options, baby!

The biggest downside of a private Bar/Bat Mitzvah tour? It can get pretty expensive… especially during the summer… especially if you’re planning on staying in luxurious 5-star hotels(check out the Bar & Bat Mitzvah costs section to get an idea of how expensive it can get).

But one thing is for sure – in most cases, it’ll still cost you less than a lavish Bar/Bat Mitzvah party (even if it’s on a budget).

Joining a Group Tour

Camel Ride Israel
Image by Tmuna Fish

If you like the idea of a Bar/Bat Mitzvah tour, but prefer a cheaper option – you can always join a group tour to Israel.

Just like family tours – the tour operator takes care of every little detail. All you have to do is show up and enjoy the ride.

Sure, it’s not as “personal” as a Bar/Bat Mitzvah tour (that might be considered an advantage). Instead, you get to travel with other groups, meet new people, and your kids can make new friends!

Or, to quote one of my favorite movies, Into the Wild:

“Happiness is only real when shared.” - Into the WildClick To Tweet

The size of the group matters, too. You can travel with a large group of 50+ people or with a group as small as 10-15 people.

Typically, the larger the group size, the cheaper the tour will be (the opposite is also true).

The good thing about a large group is that you get to travel with more people. The bad thing about a large group is that you get to travel with more people (no, I didn’t write the same sentence twice by accident).

  • On the one hand, a larger group often means it’ll be cheaper.
  • On the other hand – it offers less flexibility, less personalization, and less time to roam around on your own.

The exact opposite is true when you travel with a smaller group: you get more flexibility, more personalization (although not to the same extent as a private tour), and more free time to explore the city on your own.

Unfortunately, those perks come at a higher cost.

Important: Not every tour operator books the accommodation for you. Always make sure you read the fine print and check whether the price includes accommodation or if you’ll have to take care of lodging yourself. If they don’t, I recommend choosing another tour operator that does.

Traveling on Your Own (DIY)

Father And Son Kotel

If you’re no stranger to Israel, then feel free to skip the organized tour and lead the way.

Heck, even if you are a stranger to the country – planning your own trip isn’t all that hard. But it does mean you’ll have to do all the legwork on your own (or let your spouse do it).

You’ll have to decide things like:

  • Where to go?
  • Where to stay?
  • What to do?

One of the common mistakes families make is they try to squeeze too much in too little time. That’s a surefire way to invite unnecessary stress to what’s supposed to be a fun trip.

Don’t let Israel’s small size confuse you. Even though it’s a tiny country – you’ll quickly realize it has SO MUCH to offer that it’s hard not to get overwhelmed.

Tip: Plus, don’t forget that it’ll probably take you a day or two to get over the jet-lag. So try to plan a “soft landing” and avoid packing your schedule too much in the first day or two.

The truth is – if you’re visiting Israel just for a week or two – you won’t be able to see and do it all.

So you better decide in advance:

  1. What you absolutely MUST see/do.
  2. What things you can afford to skip.
  3. What is considered “extracurricular activities”: nice if you have the time, but not the end of the world if you don’t.

Tip: There’s a lot of travel advice out there on the internet. Keep in mind that every person, every group, every family has different wants, needs, and tastes. Plan your trip based on your own family’s needs. Don’t blindly follow what some random blogger wrote on some travel blog you’ve never heard of (except for me… I’m not random 🙂 ). Otherwise, you might realize that someone else’s idea of a dream trip turned out to be your nightmare trip.

Celebrating a Bar/Bat Mitzvah Ceremony in Israel

Bar Mitzvah Jerusalem Trip

Most Bar & Bar Mitzvah trips involve more than just sightseeing. If you’re going to Israel – then you might as well celebrate their Bar/Bat Mitzvah someplace special.

Lucky for you – Israel is full of amazing locations that are perfect for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah service.

Let’s look at some of the most popular venues parents choose for their child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah ceremony… as well as lesser-known places most people don’t even know exist (these places are worth a visit even if they’re not your main venue).

Celebrating a Bar/Bat Mitzvah at the Kotel (Western Wall)

Bar Mitzvah Ceremony
Original Image by Peter van der Sluijs

Ever since the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70 AD, the Western Wall has been the central pilgrimage site for Jewish people around the world. Unsurprisingly – it’s also the most common choice among Jewish parents who choose to celebrate their kid’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony at the holiest site for the Jewish people (technically the Temple Mount is the holiest, but it’s not accessible to Jews).

Hundreds of kids celebrate their coming of age every month at the Western Wall – the very same wall that once belonged to the holy Jewish temple – before it was destroyed over 2000 years ago.

If you’re planning a Bar/Bat Mitzvah trip to Israel – the Western Wall should definitely be at the top of your list, too (leave room on that list though… I have a feeling you’ll discover other interesting venues in a few moments).

Important: The Western Wall adheres to Orthodox Jewish laws: only boys read from the Torah, male/female separation, etc’. If you’re planning a Bat Mitzvah Torah reading or you prefer a conservative/reform ceremony – you can perform the ceremony at the egalitarian section of the Western Wall (also known as “Azarat Yisrael”).

You can book the ceremony at the Kotel here if you’re traveling on your own. Otherwise, if you’re booking a Bar/Bat Mitzvah tour – your tour operator should take care of the logistics for you (if they don’t, ask them to).

Tip: Ideally, you’d want to plan your ceremony during the sprint or the summer. Try to avoid booking the ceremony during winter – as Jerusalem tends to get pretty chilly during that time.

The Western Wall Tunnels

Western Wall Tunnel
Image by Rhododendrites

Don’t forget to take your family on a tour inside the Western Wall Tunnels!

Celebrating the Bar/Bat Mitzvah in the Kotel is one thing. But going underground and witnessing the marvelous archeological excavations that were discovered over the years heightens the entire experience to completely new levels! It gives you a glimpse of what biblical Jerusalem used to look like, and wrap your head around how enormous the Jewish temple really was.

Not only that – you can also arrange a special Bat Mitzvah ceremony inside the Western Wall tunnels that includes a festive candle lighting and reciting of “Eshet Chayil”.

Davidson Center – The Jerusalem Archeological Park

Jerusalem Archeology Park
Image by Chadica

Right next to the Western Wall you’ll find one of the top tourist attractions in the Old City of Jerusalem: the Jerusalem Archeological Park.

After the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967, the Israeli Antiquities Authority started digging around the Western Wall looking for excavations.

Fast forward a few years later – even they couldn’t believe the amazing findings they’ve uncovered; findings that were lying “dormant” right under our feet for centuries.

  • The Southern Wall: The 922 feet long southern wall of the second Jewish temple.
  • Staircase leading to the Jewish Temple: The stairs of the 2,000-year-old Hulda Gates – leading to the entrance of the second Jewish temple
  • Robinson Arch: Remnants of an ancient arch – later named Robinson Arch – that was used as a bridge to connect the Temple Mount to the lower parts of Jerusalem
  • The Jewish Priest’s Trumpeting Place: A porch that belonged to the Temple Mount, where the Jewish high priest used to stand and blow the Shofar to mark the entrance of Shabbat and Jewish holidays.
  • Ancient Mikvahs: Several Mikvahs (ritual baths) pilgrims used to purify themselves before entering the holy Jewish temple were discovered during the excavations.

This is just a partial list of the historical findings you’ll find at the Jerusalem Archeological Park.

And the best part? You can celebrate your Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony in this remarkable location – including conservative and reform ceremonies!

Did You Know?

This is also known as the egalitarian section: where men and women can sit together, and Bat Mitzvah girls can also read from the Torah.

Tip: Even if you’re not performing the ceremony at the Davidson Center, It’s still definitely worth a visit. You can book a tour that showcases the artifacts found during the excavations – including a 3D model that allows you to “play a pilgrim” and walk up to the Temple Mount.

Celebrating the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Ceremony in Ancient Synagogues

Israel has no shortage of ancient synagogues spread around the country. Some of these synagogues are thousands of years old, dating back to the days of the Jewish temple.

It’s one thing reading from the Torah. But it’s a totally different experience reading your Torah passage in a synagogue that is almost as old as the Torah itself.

Let’s explore some of these ancient synagogues that will guarantee an unforgettable moment to anyone who is lucky enough to get invited!

Hurva Synagogue

Hurva Synagogue
Image by Immanuel Giel

The original Hurva Synagogue used to be one of the most impressive synagogues in Jerusalem… until it got destroyed during the war of independence in 1948.(don’t worry, the story has a happy ending)

The synagogue was restored a few years ago, and it’s now back in “action” – standing tall at the heart of the Jewish quarter!

At the synagogue – you can either:

  1. Book a short family tour to witness one of the most extraordinary synagogues in the country – and perhaps in the world.
  2. Or, you can take it to the next level – and arrange your son’s Bar Mitzvah ceremony in the synagogue that has become the symbol of the Jews’ return to Jerusalem.

Note: The Hurva is a Jewish Orthodox synagogue, so it’ll have to be an Orthodox Bar Mitzvah ceremony.

Either way, It’s definitely worth a visit!

Baram’s Ancient Synagogue

Baram Ancient Synagogue
Image by Erez Ashkenazi

In 1905, an ancient synagogue was discovered in the town of Baram, located in the upper Galilee not too far from the Lebanese border. The stunning synagogue is unlike any other synagogues you see these days. It’s made of basalt stone and it consists of fascinating architecture from the Byzantine period.

The synagogue is located near the Baram forest – which is one helluva sight to behold as well.

Ein Gedi’s Ancient Synagogue

Ein Gedi Synagogue

If you ask most Israelis: “What’s the first thing that comes to mind when they hear the name “Ein Gedi”?

Odds are, they’ll say something like:

  • A bottle of water
  • That place near the Dead Sea
  • Delicious breakfasts!

Almost no one will ever think of the ancient synagogue in Ein Gedi, even though it has been a Jewish landmark since the third century AD.

More and more archeological excavations have been discovered at the site in recent decades, including remarkable mosaics from the 5th century with depictions of Adam’s descendants ⇒ all the way to Noah’s children, a list of horoscope signs and the Hebrew months, as well as the 3 Jewish forefathers.

If that sounds good, wait till you see it with your own eyes. Better yet – wait till your child reads from the Torah and celebrates their coming of age in that majestic synagogue.

Tzipori’s Ancient Synagogue

Tzipori Synagogue The Mona Lisa Of The Galilee
The Mona Lisa of the Galilee (Image by Itamar Grinberg)

Not too far away from Baram is a cute little village called Tzipori – home to the ancient synagogue of Tzipori that was built somewhere around the 5th century. When the synagogue was discovered, it revealed a phenomenal compilation of rare mosaics that were preserved to this day.

And believe it or not, you’ll be able to celebrate your kid’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah on top of this historical piece of Jewish history and art.

Gamla’s Ancient Synagogue

Gamla Ancient Synagogue
Image by AvramGr

Gamla used to be an ancient Jewish city on the Golan Heights – until the Romans took over the city in 66 AD, a few years before the destruction of the second Jewish temple. It’s also known as the “Northern Masada” – due to its similarities with the story of the Masada takeover.

1900 years later, remains of one of the oldest synagogues in the world (from around 1 BCE) were discovered during archeological excavations in the ruins of the old city of Gamla.

Clearly – celebrating your Bar/Bat Mitzvah with close friends and family members in Gamla is nothing short of magical.

Not many Jewish people are able to say: “I celebrated my Bar/Bat Mitzvah in one of the earliest synagogues ever built.”

Your child may very well be one of them.

Katzrin’s Ancient Synagogue

Katzrin Ancient Synagogue
Image by Staselnik

This is the last ancient synagogue on the list, I promise!

Not too far from Gamla’s synagogue, you’ll find excavations of the ancient synagogue in Katzrin.

The synagogue was built somewhere in the mid-Bronze age and remained active until the 6th century AD.

Now, the site is open for visitors, and you can enjoy a unique Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration in the remains of the synagogue under the open sky.

Alternative Bar/Bat Mitzvah Ceremony Locations

“Are there any other cool places we can celebrate the Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony?”

I’m glad you asked! (I know you didn’t actually ask that… but admit it – you were thinking about it! Either that or I’m talking to myself again)

  1. Some of these places are hot tourist attraction (in fact, there’s a good chance you’ve been to one of these places before).
  2. Others are off the beaten path places most tourists have never even heard of, let alone visited.

But what these two kinds of places have in common is that they’ll both gladly host your child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony… and you bet they’ll do it in a unique & creative way!

The Tower of David Museum

Jerusalem Tower Of David Night
Image by MathKnight

Some classmate:So…Where are you celebrating your Bar/Bat Mitzvah?”

Your kid:I’m celebrating mine at King David’s fortress… You?”

That’s a mic-drop moment right there. How can anyone compete with that?

Usually, the guest of honor at your Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony is someone like auntie Bracha, who came all the way from Australia to celebrate with you on this joyous moment.

But when you celebrate your Bar or Bat Mitzvah at the Tower of David Museum, and you’ve got King David (or at least someone dressed as him), King Herod and other royalty members participate in your Bar/Bat Mitzvah, I’m afraid auntie Bracha would have to settle for a “thank you for coming” (or perhaps a candle lighting if you’re having a reception).

And since you’re a guest at someone else’s fortress, the decent thing to do is to learn all about the ruler of the fortress – King David himself.

When you celebrate your Bar/Bat Mitzvah at the Tower of David Museum, you not only learn about your Torah portion – you learn all about King David, and the history of The Tower of David.

So that on the big day – when the parents, friends, and family arrive to celebrate your Bar or Bat Mitzvah – YOU will be the one giving them the tour!

Talk about adult responsibility, huh?

And if you want a truly unique experience – you can book your ceremony at night and enjoy the Museum’s special sound and light show illuminating your private celebration – providing your guests with a breathtaking view, and an experience they’ll never forget!

Masada

Bar Mitzvah Masada
Image by Meg Stewart

Tens of thousands of guests have attended a Bar Mitzvah ceremony at the Masada mountaintop over the years.

It kind of makes you wonder: what person in their right mind would choose to celebrate their Bar/Bat Mitzvah in the middle of the desert?!

But Masada is more than just a pretty view (“pretty view” might be the understatement of the year) in the middle of the desert. It’s one of the most iconic sites in Israel – and a powerful symbol of Jewish bravery.

Imagine…

You walk up the snake path together with your family and friends. You celebrate your child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony at the ancient synagogue of Masada with a breathtaking view of the Dead Sea, followed by a luncheon and a tour of the historical desert for “dessert” (pun intended).

That’s not just a Bar/Bat Mitzvah. That’s a keepsake.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah trip or not – if this is your first time visiting Israel – go visit Masada with your family.

Heck, you should visit Masada even if it’s not your first time. Trust me, you won’t regret it. You’re probably planning to visit the Dead Sea anyway, so why not take a pit stop at the Masada and witness one of Israel’s top (read: touristy) sites?

I know I criticized having an “Instagram competition” at the beginning of the article. But screw it – take the phone out of your pocket and snap some pictures while you’re up there.

The world Instagram needs more Masada pictures and fewer duck-faces and selfies (don’t you dare pull a duck-face when you’re in Masada!).

Tip: Masada gets really hot during the summer. If you’re planning your ceremony during the summer – I strongly suggest you skip Masada and choose another location (unless you want poor auntie Bracha to pass out during the Torah reading).

Neot Kedumim

Neot Kedumim Lake View
Image by Laliv g

Between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem lies one of the most breathtaking sites in Israel that most people haven’t even heard of. Neot Kedumim is the only biblical nature reserve in the world. It gives visitors a glimpse into how our Jewish ancestors lived in biblical times nearly 3000 years ago.

Did You Know?

This gorgeous gem has earned Neot Kedumim The Israel Prize – the highest honor awarded by the state of Israel for its special contribution to the country.

Now… imagine celebrating your child’s special day surrounded by a breathtaking landscape, filled with hundreds of trees, plants, and grapevines that are all mentioned in the bible.

It’s a beautiful, symbolic way to bring the past and the future together. It delivers a powerful message to our kids: The only way to build a better future is to never forget where we came from.

Tip: B’nai Mitzvah can even plant a tree in Neot Kedumim for their Mitzvah project.

Yad Vashem

Yad Vashem Internal
Image by Hynek Moravec

Yad Vashem isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you’re planning your kid’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah in Israel.

After all, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony is supposed to be a “happy” experience. The Holocaust Remembrance Center – it’s safe to say – is the opposite of that.

While there’s nothing bad with a “happy” experience, I believe there’s a better term to describe the ideal Bar/Bat Mitzvah service: meaningful.

If you want your kid’s Bar/Mitzvah ceremony to truly make an impact on them, cherish their experience and connect them to their Jewish history, suddenly Yad Vashem makes a lot of sense… don’t you think?

Yad Vashem’s twinning program creates a forging bond between your child and a child who was murdered at the Holocaust. They’ll get to learn who they were, what they loved, and the hardships they went through in the concentration camps.

While this emotional experience may sound depressing at first, it proves to be life-changing to Jewish kids who participate in this program.

Think about this way: by the time your child gets to be your age – odds are there will be no more Holocaust survivors left in our world. Giving your child this unique experience is an excellent way to ensure our future generations pass on the lessons we learned from the Holocaust and never forget.

Planning a Reform Bar/Bat Mitzvah in Israel

Bat Mitzvah Torah Reading
Image by Bob Watts

Many reform and conservative Jews still aren’t aware of the egalitarian section of the Kotel – where they can hold a reform Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony at the western wall (hopefully this article will change that 🙂 ).

But the Western Wall isn’t the only option for a reform ceremony. Besides the alternative venues I mentioned above (Masada and Neot Kedumim are particularly popular destinations for conservative and reform Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremonies), you can also choose to hold your ceremony at a reform synagogue. They’re not as common in Israel as they are in the US, but they do exist.

You can perform a reform Bar/Bat Mitzvah service at the following congregations:

Tip: Many reform congregations have contacts with reform congregation in Israel. Try contacting them in advance and ask them if they can set you up with a local congregation.

The Bar/Bat Mitzvah Reception (or Luncheon)

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Luncheon

It’s a common Jewish tradition to host a celebratory meal after the Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony.

It can either be a modest Bar or Bat Mitzvah luncheon after the ceremony or a full-blown reception. You know – book a venue, send invitations, get a DJ, host a candle lighting ceremony, give a speech… the “whole nine” (minus the flashiness and the need to impress the kid’s classmates).

The good thing about celebrating your Bar/Bat Mitzvah in Jerusalem is that you’ll usually hold the ceremony on Monday or Thursday (that’s when Bar Mitzvah ceremonies are held at the Kotel) as opposed to Saturday (which is usually the case in the US, Canada or the UK).

On a Shabbat, you’d normally hold the Bar/Bat Mitzvah luncheon at the synagogue after the Torah reading to avoid breaking Shabbat.

But when you celebrate on a Monday or Thursday – you don’t have that problem… so you can plan your Kiddush luncheon pretty much anywhere you like!

And lucky for you – Jerusalem is full of amazing places where you’ll get to enjoy a real Bar/Bat Mitzvah luncheon… Israel style!

Heck, you can even celebrate the luncheon outside of Jerusalem! Remember, this is Israel… Everything is practically within driving or walking distance (OK, not exactly “everything”, but close enough)!

Buying a Bar Mitzvah Tefillin & Tallit

Do you know what the term “Bar Mitzvah” (or “Bat Mitzvah”) actually means?

It means subject to commandments.

In other words – once a Jewish teen reaches the coming of age (13 for boys and 12 for girls), they’re now officially subject to the Torah commandments. From now on – they’re responsible for their own actions. No more pinning their misdeeds on mommy and daddy!

Two of the most important commandments in a Jewish man’s life are the Mitzvot of Tallit and Tefillin.

Note: In conservative and reform communities, girls wear a Bat Mitzvah Tallit as well.

Before the Bar Mitzvah ceremony, the parents (or grandparents) buy their son his first pair of Tallit and Tefillin that will hopefully last him for years, maybe even decades to come.

Where’s the best place to buy a Tallit and Tefillin? There are three options:

  1. Buy it online before you arrive in Israel.
  2. Get it in a Judaica store in Israel (I recommend Jerusalem or Bnei Brak) during your Bar Mitzvah vacation
  3. Look for a local Judaica store in your town

Either option is fine. There’s no right or wrong… just make sure to do the research before you buy your son his first Tallit and (especially) Tefillin.

Tip: If you’re planning a Bar Mitzvah ceremony at your home town and later planning a trip to Israel, then you’ll have to buy it in advance… you can’t wait till you get to Israel. Luckily, you can easily get a beautiful made-in-Israel Bar Mitzvah Tallit and Tefillin shipped to your home.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Certificate

Yivarechicha Bar Mitzvah CertificateYivarechicha Bat Mitzvah Certificate

  • … We get a certificate when we’re born
  • … We get a certificate when we finish college.
  • … Heck, these days, kids even get a certificate when they finish kindergarten.

So don’t they deserve to get a special certificate on one of the most important days of their lives?

They sure do!

You can either:

  1. Get the standard Bar/Bat Mitzvah certificate from the Israeli Ministry of Tourism (make sure to fill this form at least a few weeks in advance)
  2. Or you can order this beautiful Bar Mitzvah certificate or Bat Mitzvah certificate if you prefer something a little a lot more attractive.

Note: If you’re booking a Bar/Bat Mitzvah tour, odds are the tour operator will arrange the standard Bar/Bat Mitzvah certificate for you. If not, ask them to!

After the Torah reading – ask the Rabbi and the cantor to sign it. It’ll feel just like college graduation (minus the black robes and enormous student debt)!

How Much Does a Bar/Bat Mitzvah in Israel Cost?

Finally, the juicy part: how much does a Bar/Bat Mitzvah in Israel cost?

Obviously, this question has so many variables that it’s almost impossible to answer:

  • Are you booking a private tour, a group tour or traveling on your own?
  • When are you arriving?
  • How long are you staying?
  • Where are you staying? (3-star hotel? 4-star hotel? 5-star hotel? with family?)
  • Is it a luxury tour or a budget tour?
  • Are you planning a Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony? Where?

But don’t worry… I’m going to try to answer it anyway 🙂

Since there are so many variables – let’s use an example…

Let’s assume a family of 4 is planning a 12 day Bar/Bat Mitzvah trip in the summer. They’re staying at moderate 5-star hotels and planning a Bar Mitzvah ceremony at the Kotel. Here’s an estimation of how much it would cost on the low end and on the high end (I’ll use ranges to emphasize each):

 Private TourGroup TourIndependent Travel
Flights$1,000 - $1,700 per person$1,000 - $1,700 per person$1,000 - $1,700 per person
Tour Cost$4,200 - $6,100 per person$3,200 - $4,600 per personX
Accommodation (hotels)Included in tour priceIncluded in tour price$1,600 - $2,500 per room
Transportation (taxis, buses, car rental, parking)$200 - $400
* Most costs are included in the tour price
$200 - $400
* Most costs are included in the tour price
$700 - $2000
Entrance Fees (parks, museums, wineries)Included in the tour priceIncluded in the tour price$300 - $700
Food & Restaurants$500 - $1,000
* Most costs are Included in the tour price
$500 - $1,000
* Most costs are Included in the tour price
$1500 - $3,200
Shopping$500 - $1,200$500 - $1,200$500 - $1,200
Bar Mitzvah ceremony at the Kotel$100 - $250
* The ceremony itself is Free
$100 - $250
* The ceremony itself is Free
$100 - $250
* The ceremony itself is Free
Bar Mitzvah Luncheon$250 - $500$250 - $500$250 - $500
Tefillin & Tallit$500 - $1,500$500 - $1,500$500 - $1,500
Miscellaneous (other costs)$200 - $500$200 - $500$300 - $700

Again, keep in mind that these are rough estimations. The costs may, and in fact, will vary depending on your specific scenario.

Taking a Bar/Bat Mitzvah Trip Outside of Israel

Bar Mitzvah Trip Outside Of Israel

I know that it’s not what most parents have in mind, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention an alternative to celebrating your kid’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah trip in Israel: a Bar/Bat Mitzvah trip outside of Israel.

Sure, celebrating your kid’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah Mitzvah in Israel makes a lot of sense. After all, what better place to celebrate the Jewish coming of age than the Jewish homeland.

That being said – there’s no hard and fast rule that says you HAVE to travel to Israel.

  • … What if you and your kids already visit Israel every summer?
  • … What if your kid is planning to visit Israel anyway in a few years (birthright, Aliyah…)?
  • … What if Hamas is firing rockets (again)?

These are just a few reasons that come to mind, and I’m sure there are a few other cases where choosing a different travel destination makes sense.

Perhaps now’s the time to go on that trip to Europe you’ve been talking about for years? Maybe visit that cool Safari in Africa you saw in Adam Sandler’s movie? Or even take a trip to Asia?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for taking a Bar/Bat Mitzvah trip to Israel. But it’s not black or white. It never is.

Conclusion

Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebrations these days focus more on style than substance.

Taking a Bar/Bat Mitzvah trip to Israel is your opportunity to escape the madness and take your family on a journey of exploration.

What does becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah really mean? How did the Jewish people survive and thrive through the generations? What are the principles that bring Jewish people from around the world together?

You’re giving your Bar/Bat Mitzvah kid a deep, meaningful experience they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives. Something a party can NEVER do.

If you ask me – that’s the ultimate gift a parent can give their child for their Jewish coming of age.

Note: That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get your kid a Bar Mitzvah gift (or Bat Mitzvah gift)!

Mazel tov! And Bon Voyage 🙂

Bar Bat Mitzvah Israel Large

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