5 Best Line Dances for Bar/Bat Mitzvahs

It’s always super fun dancing to your favorite music at mitzvah bashes, but it really riles up the crowd to all participate in group line dances! And line dancing isn’t just for country songs anymore — we’ve got some awesome moves to keep you and your friends entertained all night long at your bar/bat mitzvah!

5.  YMCA – Village People

4. Electric Slide – Marcia Griffiths

3. Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy – Big & Rich

2. Cha Cha Slide – Mr. C. The Slide Man

1. Cupid Shuffle – Cupid

No need to practice these moves before the big day — a good DJ will teach your group in realtime with the music so that everyone can join in and dance, bringing your bar or bat mitzvah to a whole new level of party! For tips on how to choose a good Dj, check out this post: How to Pick a Stellar DJ.

 

video credit:  1 – youtube.com ::  2 – youtube.com ::  3 – youtube.com ::  4 – youtube.com ::  5 – youtube.com

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Top 10 Things to Know About Your Bar or Bat Mitzvah DJ

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1. Do you follow the American DJ Association Code of Professional Conduct?

Any legitimate DJ company will be dedicated to adhering to the ADJA code, as is SoCal Mitzvahs DJ, Scott Topper Productions. This is a standard business ethic, and a DJ company that is truly committed to serving you in a professional manner will honor it.

2. Are you insured and can you supply me with proof of liability?

Liability insurance protects both the client and the business owner. Many venues are beginning to require proof of liability, and you can ask for a DJ’s Certificate of Liability for reference. We are happy to provide you with ours.

3. Are you willing to play requests and discuss music ahead of time?

This is a big deal for many clients — after all, you want to listen to what you want to hear! An easy-to-work-with DJ will listen to your suggestions, offer feedback, and play from your desired song list. When it comes to SoCal Mitzvahs/Scott Topper Productions, we welcome your requests and appreciate communication about your music preferences.

4. Do you use professional equipment?

Professional gear does not guarantee an entertainer’s talent or service level, but it is a necessary tool for creating an exceptional music event. We use professional-grade, top-notch sound equipment that is certified by the ADJA.

5. Do you provide backup equipment at the event?

A professional DJ will understand that equipment malfunctions — although rare — do inevitably occur, and being prepared to handle any curve ball is of utmost importance. No one would want their special day affected due to a vendor’s lack of preparation. SoCal Mitzvahs/Scott Topper Productions has multiple backups for each piece of equipment.

6. Do you know proper etiquette for my crowd?

Most DJs also emcee the event, announcing the entrance of the bar or bat mitzvah, introducing family or friends’ speeches, and segueing getting everyone on the dance floor! If you want to have a carefree, smooth event, it’s essential that the DJ understand the etiquette for your bar or bat mitzvah.

7. How much time do you allow for set-up?

When it comes to bar and bat mitzvahs, punctuality is vital. Most of our DJs arrive one hour or more prior to the start time you’ve provided. Your DJ should be set up and ready to play before your first guest walks through the door.

8. Will you provide me with a written contract?

Have everything you want included in your service in writing. If you want a specific DJ from the company, for example, make sure that’s in the contract as well. We recommend asking for a written agreement before paying any deposit. The typical deposit for DJ/emcee services is 50% of the total.

9. Will you dress appropriately for my bar or bat mitzvah?

Don’t be shy to let the DJ understand the dress code at your bar or bat mitzvah — whether casual, black tie, or themed. A professional will have no problem honoring your event’s apparel style.

10. Do you belong to a trade group or professional organization?

Although this particular aspect likewise does not guarantee talent or professionalism, belonging to a well-respected industry organization can indicate the company’s roots in the community. It also can reflect a DJ’s willingness to stay up to date on innovations and new trends through attending conventions and seminars. We are a member in both the International Special Events Society (ISES) and the American DJ Assocation (ADJA).

 

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Top 5 Songs in the US!

Here are the top five songs in the U.S. right now. And you better believe that they’re also on the hotlist for bar and bat mitzvahs! Enjoy. . .

Rude! by Magic  *personal fav

Fancy by Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX

Stay With Me by Sam Smith

Am I Wrong? by Nico & Vinz

Problem by Ariana Grande ft. Iggy Azalea

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3 Steps to Writing a Better Mitzvah Speech

Bar Mitzvah

A bar/bat mitzvah represents a special day that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. One of the major milestones of the day happens with the mitzvah speech. So, it’s important to get it right!

Yet, writing a whole speech can seem very daunting. How do you go about it? How do you know where to start? Here we offer some ways to write a better mitzvah speech. . . in three simple steps:

1. Understand what your haftorah portion is about. It sounds obvious, but a lot of mitzvahs do not quite take the time they need in order to get to the core message of their particular haftorah portion. If you read your portion thoroughly and don’t totally comprehend exactly what it’s about, don’t be shy to ask others for their insight. Go to your rabbi, mitzvah instructor, or parents for guidance. Then, take their insight into consideration and use your own intuition to find meaning in your haftorah portion.

2. Relate the theme of your portion to present day life. How does the story or theme apply to current situations and challenges that you and/or society faces? If nothing comes to mind immediately, work backwards: think of things that matter to you today — anything from gay marriage to the ethical treatment of animals to aiding the needy. Then, connect those things back to your haftorah portion and see if the issues have anything in common or mirror one another in some way. If your portion just doesn’t inspire you, it’s best to find a very specific piece of it that does ignite passion in you and then capitalize on that theme.

3. Don’t censor yourself. When you begin writing, just start putting down whatever comes into your mind. It’s not helpful at this point to self-edit; if something pops into your head, then give it a chance. It’s likely that your subconscious is doing its job and guiding your thought process successfully. So keep writing and expressing your thoughts until they lead to a fluid, comprehensible speech. You can always go back later and edit. Just by giving yourself the freedom to write whatever ideas come to mind, you’ll finish that speech a lot quicker than you thought.

Writing your mitzvah speech is a big task, but you can have greater clarity and better focus just by listening to yourself and giving your thoughts credit. Write them down and don’t feel afraid to say what’s on your mind. It may just turn out to have an incredible impact, like the speech of Duncan McAlpine Sennett — check out his poignant speech below:

photo credit: photo 1 – messianicfellowship.com :: video 1 – youtube.com

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Bar Mitzvah 101 – 5 Things You Need to Know

Bar mitzvahs can seem complicated with lots of foreign-sounding words and traditions that perhaps you haven’t quite yet mastered. When you break it down, however, the elements of a bar or bat mitzvah are really not that difficult to understand. Here’s a simple look into a bar or bat mitzvah in preparation for the big day!

The Tefillin, Tallit, & Tzitzit

Tefillin are black leather boxes with parchments inscribed with the Shema and other passages from the Torah. They are worn on the head and arm — close to the heart — to be reminded of one’s connection with G-d. On your bar or bat mitzvah, you may also wear a tallit (shawl-like covering with fringes referred to as tzitzit) as another reminder of your connection with G-d and His commandments.

Tallit Tefillin Tzitzit Collage

The Aliya

An aliya is the honor of being called up to the Torah to recite one of the blessings over the Torah. This is done both before and after the Torah/haftorah reading. Both yourself and pre-selected congregants may perform various aliyas.

Mitzvah Aliya

The Haftorah Portion

As a bar or bat mitzvah, you may recite the Haftorah portion that coincides with the timing of your mitzvah ceremony. 2,000 years ago, Jews were forbidden from reading the Torah so they read instead from writings of the prophets that corresponded to the theme of that week’s Torah portion.

Mitzvah Haftorah Portion

The Bar or Bat Mitzvah Speech

The speech has become part of the traditions of a mitzvah ceremony. Typically, the speech reflects on how the Torah or haftorah portion that you have just recited pertains to your own life and the present world in which we live. It offers a scholarly perspective on these passages and can be as long or short as you choose. As long as it communicates your thoughts and relevant points explaining the lessons in the passages, you’ve done your job!

Mitzvah Speech

The Kiddush

The Kiddush happens after the bar or  bat mitzvah ceremony and begins with a blessing over the wine followed by a luncheon. The whole congregation typically participates in this, as well as family and friends whom you’ve invited to your ceremony.

Mitzvah Kiddush

The Reception

The reception (or modern day “party”) occurs after all of the above traditions have happened. It typically takes place in a different location than that of the ceremony, lending itself to themes, activities, and of course. . . lots of food! You can make your reception as low-key or elaborate as you choose, and is a fabulous time to celebrate with family and friends.

Mitzvah Party

These are the basics of a mitzvah! And not so hard to comprehend after all. It’s always useful to be well educated about a bar or bat mitzvah, so feel free to ask your mitzvah teacher in-depth questions or peruse this blog for more insight into the meaning of your big day.

photo credit: collage [clockwise from top left] photo 1 – southerncaliforniamitzvahs.com :: collage photo 2 – tallit-shop.com :: collage photo 3 – photo.net :: collage photo 4 – religionfacts.com :: photo 5 – southerncaliforniamitzvahs.com :: photo 6 – southerncaliforniamitzvahs.com :: photo 7 – southerncaliforniamitzvahs.com :: photo 8 – southerncaliforniamitzvahs.com :: photo 9 – southerncaliforniamitzvahs.com

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The History of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah

Bar Mitzvah

The bar and bat mitzvah have become quite the celebration in modern Judaism, but what were they like hundreds of years ago? It’s second nature nowadays to associate a bar or bat mitzvah with huge themed parties, catered food, and party favors for tweens. But how did it all begin? Here is the skinny on the origin of today’s bar and bat mitzvah.

Torah

Historically, the bar mitzvah (literally translated to “son of the commandment”) represented the coming of age of a young man who was no longer considered a minor under Jewish law. This meant he could now accept all religious responsibilities and privileges.

Wall Bar Mitzvah

The bar mitzvah developed as public recognition of both legal and religious status independent of any kind of ritual; in other words, when a boy turned 13 years old, he was automatically bestowed all legal and religious obligations of an adult, much like a minor turning 18 years old in the United States (sans the religious imperatives).

Modern:Ancient Mitzvah

The beginnings of today’s modern bar/bat mitzvah appeared as early as the 6th century C.E., but not until the Middle Ages did a fully developed ritual emerge. At this time, the custom of calling a boy up to the Torah was established, and he would chant some blessings, recite some or all of that week’s Haftorah portion, and his father would offer the special blessing, “Blessed is He who has freed me from responsibility for this boy.” The boy would often then give a scholarly speech about the Torah or haftorah portion, and the congregation would then enjoy a feast, which was (and still is) also considered a mitzvah in which to partake. Thus, by the Middle Ages, almost all of the elements of the modern bar mitzvah were established (except perhaps the themed parties! ; ).

Mitzvah

Starting in the 2nd or 3rd century C.E. girls were given legal & religious adult status at the age of 12 years old, but with much fewer religious rights, commandments or ceremonial acknowledgement. The first-known bat mitzvah in North America was not until 1921 by Judith Kaplan, daughter of Mordecai Kaplan. Reform and conservative congregations quickly adopted the official bat mitzvah into their religious ritual protocol.

Mitzvah Party

Today, bar and bat mitzvahs typically lead to a massive celebration with family, friends, and sometimes the whole congregation. Whatever form your mitzvah takes, just know that it has deep roots and a meaningful history in the Jewish religion. You can be proud to become a bar or bat mitzvah with a long line of tradition informing your own rite of passage.

 

photo credit: photo 1 – messianicfellowship :: photo 2 – freephoto.com :: photo 3 – wikipedia.org :: photo 4 – specialevents.com :: photo 5 – southerncaliforniamitzvahs.com :: photo 6 – southerncaliforniamitzvahs.com

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Food, Drink, Krav Maga, Dancing!: Santa Barbara’s Jewish Festival 2014

Jewish Federation 1

We are proud to be the event planner for the Santa Barbara Jewish Festival for the third year in a row. Join us May 4 from 11am-4pm at Oak Park for delicious food — including Georgia’s Smokehouse “Shalom Y’all” Food Truck and McConnell’s Kosher ice cream — activities, live music, and Krav Maga!

Jewish Federation 2

The SB Jewish Festival is always a super fun time with wonderful entertainment as well as a variety of activities for all ages. This year the JCC Team Comedy Club will be killin’ it on the Main Stage while Just 4 Fun Fitness provides a smorgasbord of fitness exercises, games, AND an obstacle course for both lil’ tots and adults!

Oak Park

But let’s talk a bit more about the food. . . shall we? We’ve got Georgia’s Smokehouse servin’ up some BBQ, and Imlak’esh Organics offering organic smoothies, salads, vegan cuisine, and superfood products. We’ve also got the Kosher Palate Food Truck serving gourmet hot dogs & sausages while L’Chaim Havurah livens it up in the Beer & Wine Garden.

SoCal Jewish Fest

There will be live music from Moshav Band, Ventura Klezmer Band, and Lorraine Klein Yiddish Folk Music. If that’s not enough to get you bopping, there’s Israeli dance instruction and a Krav Maga demonstration and participation activity! All super fun stuff, and with good food & drink you can’t go wrong.

SoCal Mitz

And. . . while you’re there, come check out our booth: Felici Events (the planning team of Southern California Mitzvahs) We’ll be providing information about our party planning & mitzvah services while we soak in the chagiga and enjoy some falafel!

For a full program of events and scheduling, go to: Jewish Festival.

 

photo credit: photo 1 – jewishsantabarbara.org :: photo 2 – jewishsantabarbara.org :: photo 3 – southerncaliforniamitzvahs.com :: photo 4 – southerncaliforniamitzvahs.com :: photo 5 – southerncaliforniamitzvahs.com

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Feeling the Weight of Your Bar or Bat Mitzvah? Laugh it Up!

 

Humor hath no boundaries with Mr Warmth. . .

Besides food, opinions about everything, and lovingly overbearing mothers, one of the consistent glues of a Jewish family is humor. And, in fact, some of the most fun mitzvahs have incorporated humor in some way — whether in the bar or bat mitzvah speech or as a part of the reception festivities. So, today we’re going to pay homage to one of comedy’s finest Jewish comedians: Don Rickles.

If you’re familiar with Don Rickles, you know that he does not hold back insults for the sake of anyone — you could be a King or the biggest pop star in the world; no one gets a free pass with Rickles!

If you haven’t heard of him. . . he’s absolutely hilarious. A ground-breaking comedian, he was the Daniel Tosh long before Tosh.0 could get away with any of his egregious jokes. For an inside look into the Jew who (still!) gets away with every offensive joke that comes out of his big mouth, check out these fantastically funny clips.

Don Rickles on Jimmy Kimmel:

Don Rickles Roasting Ronald Reagan & Martin Scorsese:

It’s always helpful to remember that a bar or bat mitzvah, although a momentous occasion, does not always have to feel so serious.

If the pressure of memorizing your Torah portion or putting on the best mitzvah party ever starts to weigh on your shoulders, just look to fellow Jews like Don Rickles who inserted humor into the darkest nooks and crannies of political (in)correctness and made light of absolutely everything!

Even if you don’t decide to incorporate comedy into the actual event of your bar/bat mitzvah, you’ll at least laugh away the stress of putting one on in the process.

 

video credit: video 1 – youtube.com :: video 2 – youtube.com :: video 3 – youtube.com

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The Best Part of Your Bar or Bat Mitzvah

Torah Image

When dreaming of bar or bat mitzvah bliss most youngsters will imagine the party. . . the music, the dancing, the awesome games, and of course. . . the gifts!

But most tend to not fantasize about their ‘amazing’ haftorah speech.

Yet, the speech frequently turns out to be one of the most memorable parts of the whole occasion. In fact, many bar and bat mitzvah “grads” name their speech as the most rewarding and meaningful aspect of their initiation into Jewish adulthood.

AvaBatMitzvah-1

So. . . if the speech can result in an experience so momentous, why not delve right into it?

This article, although seemingly not related to bar or bat mitzvahs (and about moralist Peter Singer, a professed atheist), sparked some ideas in us and absolutely jumped out as a resource for compelling mitzvah speech topics.

Although the topics in it may not apply to every haftorah portion, it reminds us that we don’t need to look too far beyond current societal issues to tap into age-old themes.

Yarmulke

For example, Singer discusses the modern duty of charity — or tzedakah in Hebrew, literally meaning justice or righteousness, but used to describe charity in Judaism.

He also talks about the responsibility of current generations to consider future generations in their present-day decision making and actions; something about which Judaism is deeply conscientious.

Candles

When contemplating the substance of a mitzvah speech, it’s essential to get to the core kernel of what the haftorah is about. The story may seem somewhat foreign or outdated, but chances are it has something to do with issues we are still facing today. So, if you need a little inspiration, look to modern day moralists like Singer (in hip news sites like gawker, no less!) and you’ll likely be on your way to creating the most momentous and meaningful part of your mitzvah.

AvaBatMitzvah-226

photo credit: photo 1 – bibliobloglibrary.com :: photo 2 – southerncaliforniamitzvahs.com :: photo 3 – blisssmag.com :: photo 4 – wikipedia.com :: photo 5 –  southerncaliforniamitzvahs.com

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5 Hot Bar and Bat Mitzvah Themes

Your mitzvah will be special no matter what. Even if you just presented your haftorah during service and had a small gathering with family and the congregation afterward, it would be a momentous occasion. But, there are certainly ways to make the celebration more unique and personalized. Bar or bat mitzvah themes help to accomplish this objective and add a whole other level to the celebration. Here are 5 themes that make for a killer mitzvah and will leave an impression with you and your guests long after the festivities have ended.

1. iPhone Apps

This is a great interactive, modern theme that can involve both kids and adults. Due to the extensive variety of apps out there, different topics and games can completely come into play.

iPhone App Lounge App Cupcakes iPhone App Cake

2. VIP Club

This is a super fun theme if you and your guests want to feel VIP and well taken care of. This theme can apply to different motifs of clubs, so the possibilities — from hip hop to trendy — are endless.

VIP Club VIP Club2 VIP Club Passes

3. Candy

This classic theme never goes out of style and only gets more elaborate and creative as it continues! The theme offers a wide range of candy-related decor from retro candy to Candyland.

Candy Land Candy Land Runner Rock Candy Centerpiece

4 Glowing Lights

Always a treat for the eyes, the Glowing Lights theme can even extend all the way to shoe laces! Talk about creative. And who doesn’t love some colorful, lit-up cotton candy?! Mazel tov!

Glow Shoe Laces LED Cotton Candy Glow Drinks

5. Arcade

Sure, arcades may have hit their heyday decades ago, but they never cease to entertain. Kids and adults alike will be endlessly amused by this theme.

Arcade Purple Balloons Arcade Band Arcade CU

Bar and bat mitzvahs don’t need much fluff to make parents proud, but as is evident from these hot themes, boosting the fun with a creative way to celebrate steps up the party factor to another level. When selecting a theme, consider what would be the most fun for the mitzvah boy or girl and also what may provide the most entertainment for guests. After all the hard work of studying Torah, it’s time to let loose and enjoy the party.

 

photo credit: photo 1 – mazelmoments.com :: photo 2 – mazelmoments.com :: photo 3 – mazelmoments.com :: photo 4 – mazelmoments.com :: photo 5 – limelighteventgroup.com :: photo 6 – cherylbigman.com :: photo 7 – aboutdetailsdetails.com :: photo 8 – pinterest.com :: photo 9- blogspot.com :: photo 10 – ziftit.com :: photo 11 – minglewing.com :: photo 12 – mazelmoments.com :: photo 13 – mazelmoments.com :: photo 14 – flickr.com :: photo 15 – mazelmoments.com

 

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