I panicked when my daughter received an invitation to her friend’s Bat Mitzvah. I have never had a close Jewish friend nor have I ever attended a Bat Mitzvah before so I had no clue what would be appropriate attire for this occasion. Bar (for the boys) and Bat (for the girls) Mitzvah’s are typically held the Saturday following the child’s thirteenth birthday. If you are facing the same situation, take a deep breath and do not panic. If your child is invited to a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, and you are not Jewish, here is a quick, easy and no nonsense list of what your child should wear to this occasion.
The attire that is worn to the ceremony in the synagogue is much the same as you would consider wearing to a late afternoon or early evening wedding at your church. Boys should wear suits or sports jackets and dress pants. Boys should also wear ties and dress shoes to the ceremony. Girls should wear dresses or skirts but do not wear dresses or tops that are strapless or low-cut. Think modest and conservative for the ceremony in the synagogue.
Explain to your son that Jewish men wear a yarmulke during the ceremony and they may be offered one to wear. It is completely appropriate for them to wear the yarmulke or not but encourage them to be polite and respectful either way they choose.
The celebration may be immediately following the ceremony or later that evening. If you think of a wedding reception, then you have a good idea what the party will be like and what your child should wear. If the celebration is right after the ceremony, whatever your child wore to the synagogue will be appropriate for the party. If the celebration is more formal and will be held in the evening, boys may wear their suit and girls may want to change into a party dress for the evening. Typically, wearing something dressy, which is appropriate for the time, location and weather, will be suitable. However, since you probably do not know how conservative this family may be, keep the party outfits (especially for young ladies) modest with no low-cut or strapless outfits.
Since this is a celebration, gifts are appropriate for this occasion. Purchase a gift for your child to take that is appropriate for the age of the child (13 years old) and a little less expensive than a wedding gift. Typically think as you would for a birthday party gift but bump it up slightly in price. Money is completely acceptable and what I normally choose to do in situations where I may not know the child very well.