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My cousins are Orthodox (black-hat/yeshivish/live in Passaic) and one of them is having a Bat Mitzvah in November. I have never attended an Orthodox Bat Mitzvah, so I don't really know what to expect.

They are having it on a Sunday afternoon at their house (not Rosh Chodesh). Is this typical? Since girls don't read the Torah portion maybe it's ok to have a bat mitzvah on Sunday? What will they be doing at their house? Why would it not be at synagogue? Would it be the kind of thing where I should dress up like on Shabbat or are regular clothes (following the Orthodox modesty rules) ok?

I'm sorry if this is a very obvious question.

  • Hi Mikie. Have you ever been to a different kind of Bat Mitzva? – Double AA Jul 27 '15 at 17:46
  • yes I am Conservative so I have been to Conservative and Reform Bat Mitzvahs. – Mikie Jul 27 '15 at 18:04
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    Could be anything from a grand birthday party with some silly games, to a speech-driven affair. Probably something in between. Expect a whispered speech from the young lady. Don't be surprised if no men are invited. – Danny Schoemann Jul 28 '15 at 14:03
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Generally, Orthodox families do not make a huge fuss with Bnot Mitzvah ("B'not being the plural of "Bat") - at least not on the same level as a Bar Mitzvah. That means, that there is usually no festivity done in a synagogue. (Within the past decade or so, that has been changing very slightly, as some Modern Orthodox have started doing at least some small celebration in the synagogue. However, among the "black hat" crowd that you describe, I know no one that has done anything in the synagogue.)

The girl does not read from the Torah at all. - certainly not in synagogue during services. She may give some small speech thanking her parents, siblings, relatives friends and others for attending and making significant contributions to her life.

A "black hat" crowd of people always dresses modestly. Most of the men will probably be wearing suits and black hats - esp. rabbis who will be attending. (BTW, expect that the rabbis esp. if they are affiliated with the girl's yeshiva will probably be making speeches and saying words of Torah.) The women will also be dressed modestly and many will be wearing wigs, hats, or covering their hair, otherwise.

If you're considering a nice gift for the girl, I think a small Siddur, Tehillim, a kerchief (as she may eventually use it when lighting Shabbat candles or to cover her head, otherwise, once married) or small candle sticks, may be appropriate. Judaica-themed jewelry, of course, always works. I don't advise bringing any food items unless you ascertain which kosher certifications the household uses.

I couldn't determine your gender from your user name, so, at the moment, I can't advise you how to dress other than to say "modestly". If you're male, wear a suit, nice shirt and tie. Female - dress long sleeves and at least a hat. I.e. - don't dress in any pants, shorts or bathing suit, etc,

I hope this helps.

  • Do girls do anything at their bat mitzvahs? Mikie is for Malkah :) – Mikie Jul 27 '15 at 18:21
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    This answer doesn't match my impression, which is that (among the crowd asked about) the only males in attendance at a bas mitzva celebration are (step-) ancestors and brothers of the bas mitzva (and only for part of it, so the girls can sing/dance with no men around). The comment above, "Generally, 'black hat' crowds, don't want the girl to give a 'formal' D'var Torah", also doesn't match my impression. But I haven't been to any (I'm male), so can't say for sure. – msh210 Jul 27 '15 at 22:15
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    Re "a kerchief (as she lights Shabbat candles)": most girls do not light until they marry or live alone. (Lubavitchers as a group are a notable exception, but they start before bas miztva age.) And I've never heard of an unmarried girl/woman covering her hair to light. – msh210 Jul 27 '15 at 22:17
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    @DanF But once she's married, she'll cover her hair all the time not just when lighting candles. – Daniel Jul 28 '15 at 12:40
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    "There are a variety of formats for Bat Mitzvah." Which is why your monolithic answer is rather poor. – Double AA Jul 28 '15 at 13:40

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