Everything you need to know about planning a virtual Bat or Bar Mitzvah

Things have certainly changed this year, but just because you can’t host large in-person gatherings, that doesn’t mean you should skip the celebrations of life’s monumental moments. Hosting a virtual event while adhering to social distancing guidelines is a great option for your child’s bar or bat mitzvah, allowing you to safely celebrate with family and friends, around the country or around the world.

The silver lining of a virtual bar or bat mitzvah party means you don’t need to cut your guest list down, and everyone you love has the ability to join in, no matter where they live. If you think virtual bar mitzvah planning is daunting, we’re here to help you plan the best online event with these great tips!

Technology rules

Although Zoom is the most popular virtual conferencing site, you can set your virtual event up through Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, FaceTime, or other services. Since you don’t want to have any technical disruptions during the event, check the internet signal strength in the room you’re hosting the event. WiFi boosters you can purchase can help put your mind at ease against service disruption. 

Email clear instructions to guests in advance of the virtual bat or bar mitzvah party detailing how the Zoom event will work, including the conference provider’s name and how to download the app. Send out a reminder email the night before the event. Note: If you do virtual invitations through a site such as evite.com, they will manage your guest list and RSVPs and automatically send out reminder emails. 

Set the stage

Decide on a theme and ask your guests to participate by dressing up or decorating their space in your pre-determined color scheme or party theme. Seeing everyone participating with colorful balloons, homemade signs, decorations, and color-coordinated outfits will make the event so much more special for the guest of honor. 

Lighting and audio

You want everyone to be able to see the event unfold, so make sure that lighting is in front of you and your family, not behind. You may also wish to consider using a plug-in speaker to ensure your guests can hear the ceremony clearly. Give the bar or bat the option of having their tutor or clergy member discreetly available via earbuds for added support during the big event.

Assign virtual hosting duties to a friend

Since you want to concentrate on enjoying every moment of this special day, ask a friend or family member to act as the official host of the call. Want to hold on to the memory forever? Zoom offers a record default “gallery view” that will show up to 25 people at a single time. Have your meeting host record the service from their home, ensuring they scroll through the additional screens to capture video memories of every attendee. 

Don’t forget the readings

Email a PDF or word document of the readings to all guests ahead of time so they can follow along, and print out a copy for the rabbi in case he is unable to bring a Torah to the service. 

Afterparty ideas

Invite your guests to stay on after the reading for a virtual toast and other fun festivities in honor of the new bar or bat mitzvah!

  • Mail out mitzvah favors with a copy of the program and readings, a personalized yarmulke, special candy and treats, and even challah, kosher wine, and grape juice, plus a personalized greeting thanking the guests for being a part of such a special day.
    Had party favors, printed invites, and other items already purchased before the pandemic shut things down? Make them a part of your thank-you correspondence by including the invitation, a video of the Torah reading, photos and videos of the event, and whatever party favors or special treats that were part of the planned in-person event. Put everything together in a gift box along with a thank you note, and you’ve found a way to keep the fun and magic going a little bit longer.
  • Organize a drive-by parade of local friends and family for an in-person (but socially distanced) congratulatory greeting. 
  • Explore the idea of virtual games. There are virtual game apps and dozens of virtual party game ideas you can find via google—everything from word games, charades, trivia, virtual painting, and murder mystery games. Choose a few for a variety of age groups to keep everyone engaged. 

Canceling your in-person bat or bar mitzvah is certainly not ideal, but with a little planning and creativity, you can make the most of hosting a virtual bar or bat mitzvah your guests will be certain to remember. 

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