Bar/Bat Mitzvah Candle Lighting Ceremony

by Adam Hirschhorn

In the Jewish tradition at a formal Bar/Bat Mitzvah there is a candle lighting ceremony.

This ceremony has been around for ages and is still prevalent today. It’s even making appearances at Sweet 16’s, Quinceañeras and Weddings.

Candle lighting is a nice way to honor people and is also a lovely photo opportunity. Whether to include a candle lighting ceremony in your celebration or not is a personal choice.

The Ceremony

The ceremony usually consists of calling up fourteen people or groups of people, each of whom light a candle. Sometimes celebrants choose to light more than fourteen candles or only one.

The Mitzvah boy or girl lights thirteen of the candles and the last candle stands for good luck.

The Bar Mitzvah boy, Bat Mitzvah girl or Master of Ceremonies announces each honoree, and as they make their way to the cake or candles, an explanation (typically a small rhyming poem) is provided to the crowd expressing the significance of the relationship between the honoree and the celebrant (e.g., Mother, Sister, Father, Brother, Cousin, etc.).

The honorees may either just light the candle or add to the festivities with a comment or speech that they make about the guest of honor.

For every person or group that comes to light candle, a special song is played. I give my clients song suggestions to guide them in the right direction.

Traditional Candle-Lighting Order

  • Memory Candle (someone who you want to pay honor to that has passed)
  • Grandparents
  • Aunts & Uncles
  • Cousins
  • Parent’s Friends
  • Bar/Bat Mitzvah’s Friends
  • Siblings
  • Parents
  • Bar/Bat Mitzvah

I always suggest to my clients that a good time to do the toast is between the Parents candle and the Guest of Honors Candle. The toast is a speech where the family thanks all their guests for coming and pays honor to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah.

After the speech, the whole family joins at the candles and blows them out. This is a great segway into the traditional Hora.

Adding Fun to Sentiment

A candle-lighting ceremony should be fun and interactive. All the guests can be involved by clapping their hands, dancing at their seats, and singing along to the music. The more fun you make it as the MC, the faster it will go!

A New Twist On An Old Tradition

I did a Mitzvah this past weekend and we added a new twist with plasma screens. The family chose a musical selection for each honoree and three pictures to put up on the screens. There were many laughs, and “aw’s,” but more importantly, the guests were visually engaged the whole time.

I now offer plasma screens to Mitzvah clients as an upsell, and I call it “The Montage Lighting.”

Some More Creative Ideas

My friends at recently posted a blog about alternatives how the Mitzvah family could display the candles for candle lighting. In years past it has been done on the cake, but in 2011 creativity is taking over! I thought the ideas were amazingly unique and something to share with your future clients. Check it out! Mitzvah Inspire: Candle Lighting Displays, No Formal Cake!

Adam Hirschhorn – Mr. Mitzvah

Adam J. Hirschhorn (A.K.A. Adam J.) is an MC, DJ, business owner and entertainment innovator.

He started AJH Entertainment at the young age of thirteen and over a decade later, Adam has grown it into a thriving operation with two locations; one in NJ and the other in PA as Flare Event Group (a preferred vendor in the legendary Bobby Morganstein’s “Beat Street” party facilities). Both of Adam’s companies provide general DJ services but specialize in Bar/Bat Mitzvahs.

A graduate of Rowan University with a degree in education, Adam uses his knowledge for the benefit of his DJs and MCs during their monthly training sessions.

In addition to his event work, Adam DJ’s at nightclubs during the week, and holds residencies at Trump Plaza Beach Bar in Atlantic City and Bar Anticipation during the summer months.

To contact him email or visit his websites and