To kick off the festivities, the host family is introduced with great fanfare by the DJ or master of ceremonies. Parents are first, followed by siblings and finally the Bar or Bat Mitzvah boy or girl.
Before the formal meal begins, there is a special blessing called the Ha-motzi, which is said over covered bread called challah. The prayer is most often said by a grandfather or elder and is done to give thanks to God for the many blessings of the day. The bread is then sliced up and eaten by a few close relatives.
The party gets started with an all-out invitation for everyone to join the guest of honor on the dance floor for the traditional fast and joyous Hora circle dance. It is customary to raise the honoree and parents in a chair, while guests hold hands, stand in a circle and dance around them.
Candle Lighting Ceremony
The Bar Mitzvah celebrant leads a special candle ceremony where he calls up family and friends one by one, or in groups, to light a candle on his Bar Mitzvah cake. Introductions are done in the form of a poem or story that communicates the relationship with those being asked to light a candle. Specially-chosen music plays as they rise from their chairs and go towards the cake. Additionally, one candle, usually the first, is lit to commemorate family and friends who have died and can only be there in spirit. Grandparents are next, followed by aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, siblings, parents and the Bar Mitzvah child.
The host parents raise their glass and make a toast honoring their child and his accomplishments. This is also the time when they thank family and friends for joining them in celebrating this milestone.
The Bar Mitzvah boy will join his mom for a special slow dance and the Bat Mitzvah girl will do the same with her dad. This is a sweet and tender moment during the celebration.