Bat/Bar Mitzvah Invitation Etiquette

Archived Responses: 

Some girls from religious school were invited, some not

March 2007

We are very saddened by recent events. In my child's religious school 3 girls were recently invited to a Bat Mitzvah and 4 were not. Apparently the child said that they had invited too many friends from school and didn't have room for the other 4 girls from their religious school class. The 4 girls not invited have had very hurt feelings and have cried over being left out when they thought this girl was their friend. Many ''friends'' have been left out from our congregation. These kids that have been left out are good kind kids and to me the situation is absolutely appalling! We have let the teacher and the rabbi know. They are trying to encourage the students and their families to invite all especially in their classes. At a time that is supposed to be so joyous, we are wondering what really is up with this? Bat/Bar Mitzvah mom

I believe that any member of the congregation is invited to teh Bar/Bat MItzvah. This is true at our temple (Beth Hillel)and was true at the temple I grew up in.

Sometimes invitations are sent to certain people(esp. if there is an after party invite included) but a general invitation to the congregation to come to the service and kiddush/luncheon is printed in our monthly newsletter. Being invited to the evening party is a different matter. That's a private party and not a public invite.

I agree it's pretty tacky and hurtful to invite some kids from the same class and not others. There should be an ''everyone is included'' policy and I''m surprised that this one got by the religious school teachers. My 2 cents. anon

At our synagogue the standard, which the parents are told ahead of time, is that the child invites everyone in the religious school class to the Bar/Bat Mizvah. Mostly, they don't have a luncheon at a restaurant component (usually a kiddush, and a kid party in the evening), so the finances aren't going to be very different for 8 kids or 15 kids.

I think you should work with your rabbi/education director to come up with an inclusive policy -- the point of the Bar/Bat Mizvah is joining the Jewish Community, and the child's religious school friends are certainly a major part of their Jewish community. carol

Ask your religious school to set down the law: Everyone in the class gets invited to the service and the party! If it's a big class, then everyone in the section gets invited.

At Tehiyah, I understand, a b'nai mitzvah invitation must go to every child in the class.

It is so distressing when the 13-year-old friendship dramas are allowed to play out at b'nai mitzvah time, and some kids get left out. (I still remember the sting of hearing a neighbor child's loud party when I was in my early teens, and feeling terrible that I wasn't included, even though I didn't like the girl next door at all.) former Bat Mitzvah Mom

I'm not sure what nsight we can give you on this very specific issue. In general, I don't know what Miss manners would say, but probably that it is up to the family (mostly the adults) hosting the party to determine who they invite. She would probably say we should be gracious in this situation, even in the midst of our dissapointment.

Those not invited should not take it personally (just cuz they weren't invited doe not mean they aren't friends). No one but the family knows why some were invited and some weren't. Perhaps they have a lot of family obligations and can't fit everyone at school into the hall or can't afford to feed everyone. For big or small parities there is often some limiting factor (space, money, comfort level). One opinion i do have, is that I do not think it is fair to quiz the child going through the ceremony about why her friends weren't invited. The guest list was likely the parent's product. Anon Mom

Really, I don't see the problem. If she had invited all the girls but one, that would seem mean or rude. Inviting half the kids is just that -- inviting half the kids. Help your child learn to manage their feelings and see it as a normal part of life that sometimes you get invited to things and sometimes you don't. anonymous
We were not people who invited the whole class to our kids' birthday parties when they were little, and felt very strongly about keeping those occasions limited to the kids our own kids actually played with.

We didn't, howver, feel that way about their Bar Mitzvahs. We really felt that there was an enormous benfit in having the whole Hebrew School class attend; the kids were all so supportive of one another and even those who were not very intimate to start with did develop a sort of unity or class feeling because of it. I think my own son went to over a dozen Bar Mitzvahs, which seemed a bit excessive at the time, but helped him in his own attitude about studying... From my perspective as a parent, the group feeling made the challenging process of becoming Bar Mitzvahed for our own kids a lot more bearable ( and dare we say valuable).

To be honest, I'm not sure I would have thought of this on my own; one of the very first of the class to be Bat Mitzvahed set the tone for everyone else when she invited the rest of the class. Maybe those hwo have had their Bar or Bat Mitzvahs in your child's class were a bit early int he year and didn't understand the larger benefits of the group participation. I do understand that cost is a factor, and I don't discount it. But, I would encourage others to think about other benefits to inviting a larger range of kids... Mazel Tov

We went through this last year. I don't know about your Temple, but the most common form of bar/bat mitzvah is the one which has the service, the luncheon, and an evening party with a DJ and various levels of frills and fun. They are a long way from the family event with bagels and lox at home. They can be extremely expensive. The parents may have financial limits, large lists of relatives and close friends to invite, limitatiosn on the number of people their party site can hold, etc. etc. It can easily get out of hand. Sometimes parents give their children limits and they do need to draw the line.

It needs to be put in a context for your child.

My daughter's bat mitzvah grade had probably 40 kids in it. She got invited to a fair number but not all. She didn't invite her entire bat mizvah group, nor her entire set of school friends. Nevertheless, between two soccer teams, half of her school and various and other friends, there were over 70 kids invited, not to mention friends. We were about 120 people.

Our rule was that if you invited most of a group, like 12 of the 16 girls on one team, then you really needed to invite the whole group. There's not a perfect ratio, but you have to apply common sense. You don't want to hurt feelings.

After much pain, we compromised and had a daytime party, but no evening party, but I did allow my daughter to invite 10 friends to dinner. There was definitely a cutoff; one girl was so annoyed that she took her present with her and stalked the restaurant. She was close enough to be invited to the bat mitzvah, butnot close enough (among the 70 kids) to be invited to the intimate dinner.

The rabbis can do nothing about it, as it isn't their budget! I'm sure they wish people would go back to bagels and lox at home. Anonymous

I'm not jewish, but I can speak to invitations. Frankly it really isn't always possible to include ''all kids'' in a class.

I've wrestled with this situation for birthday parties and each time have only been able to invite some of the class. To start with my child doesn't like a couple of kids and she should absolutely not have to be with them at HER party. Then we like to include siblings when possible (especially if we know them) which always bumps up the number. Also, we have many non-school friends to consider as well (neighborhood pals, playgroup buddies). With all those possible ''choices'' we couldn't possibly accommodate everyone unless we were prepared to have birthday parties of 50-75 people! So we make choices. Who are we closer to? Who to we know and see socially outside of school? How many people can we have total? Do we invite just the girls? Does our venue have a limit on how many people can be included? How expensive is it to accommodate a larger group vs a smaller group? These are hard decisions for sure but we need to ''draw the line'' somewhere. I have occasionally been a bit hurt when my daughter isn't invited to something, but I try to keep it all in perspective and realize that those families are making the kinds of choices that we have had to make too. Can't alway include everyone

We go to a fairly large synagogue, and both of our daughters' bat mitzvah classes were divided into smaller sections. The Rabbis and the head of the binai mitzvah program advised parents that it was a requirement of the program that all students in their child's small section had to be invited to their bar/bat mitzvah - the requirement could not have been clearer. Notwithstanding that, each of my daughters were not invited to the all of the bar/bat mitzvahs from their small sections. When it came their turn, I did the right thing - I invited each of the kids in each of my daughters' small sections. I wanted my daughters to know that even though we can't control other people's insensitivity or meanness - that we need to do what we think is right, and do the right thing - which is to invite everyone - with one exception. I did draw the line at one child who had bullied my daughter, and made my child's life miserable. My daughter said that the child never said a nice word to her and that she did not want her at her bat mitzvah and I felt in those circumstances, I had to respect my daughter's wishes. As to the general invitations, I found that the religious school had very little control over the other students or the actions of the parents. Anon
I think people have the right to invite whomever they wish to their private parties. Perhaps the hosts have several things they're trying to consider (finances, space in a venue, etc.).

Celebrations such as bar/bat mitzvahs and weddings can be expensive and are often priced per person for catering/site charges. Adding a few extra people can add up to an extra several hundred dollars. Don't Have to Invite Everyone

I empathize with the hurt feelings any kid might have - very real and worth reflecting and helping the child find a good internal response to.

But, to be honest with you, it sounds a lot like whining and guilt-making on your part. Help your child find a more empowered response to things like this or she might end up feeling ''victimized''. You might try a different internal response for yourself like, ''That's okay, not everyone can like everyone'' or ''I'm sure we would have been invited if there was enough space''.

Please let schools be about the kids and not about the parents! Sue