In the Myrtle Beach area and throughout the Carolinas, Bar Mitzvah boy / Bat Mitzvah girl is lifted in a chair. Everyone is a part of the party with the guest of honor in the focal point.

Some time back, a very talented Disc Jockey entertainer made an astute observation. I was DJing for the outdoor, evening, fun-time, family party on the pool deck by the bar at the Coral Beach Resort in Myrtle Beach, SC. Talk about a spotlight DJ presentation, here was the kind of setting where most everyone in attendance just gathered around in beach chairs and chaise lounges, drinking, socializing, and dancing—with their attention directed on the DJ OR on whatever was happening on the dance floor. It was as if everyone was there to see what was going to happen next, like they would watch and wait with an ever-present palpable question, "Okay Mr. DJ, what are you going to do to entertain us now? What's up that sleeve of yours? What string are you going to pull so we can have some entertainment out here?" I always thought of this outdoor pool deck gig as a great proving ground for any Disc Jockey entertainer. The fact is, the talented Disc Jockey who shined so well on this gig would make use of a spotlight. Every time someone new would join the party, he'd call everyone's attention to the newcomer(s) by chiming something clever, comical, or witty about them, all the while shining the spotlight on them as they entered the "arena." He also was known for a wide array of hats and props that he'd employ in a style that ranged from subtle to extra vaudevillian. Actually, in many ways and in his own right, this gifted DJ was quite the genius. Well, here I was filling in for him, and doing my best to keep the energy level up and the excitement high. Ideally what would take place on most nights would happen during the third hour when a lot of less- inhibited dancing would kick in. Then all any DJ had to do then was put into practice his best programming and keep the wooden-deck dance floor percolating.

I started by referring to an astute observation. Sometime during the second hour of one of these pressure-filled engagements, I was trying to encourage (as I perpetually do) the onset of the dance music fun. To me, "feeding the flames" of the excitement on the dance floor is certainly  one of the most rewarding of all DJ experiences. Well, all we had happening was a handful of young gals out there, daughters of folks who were spending money at the bar, and they were having a good time performing a dance routine to a then popular party song. My impression was, this was not much of a spectacle, mainly because, as I said, only a handful of people were "center stage." As I was attending to the music and absorbed in the their routine, I noticed the talented Disc Jockey to whom I was referring, the regular (and need I say successful) party-sparking catalyst, observing the scene from a vantage point to my right. "Nuts," I thought to myself. This is not the level of crowd participation I would have wanted him to witness. BUT! Here's his smiling observation: "Great! This is great! Everyone's attention is on the girls. They're all enjoying what's happening. YOU'VE GOT A FOCUS!" That's the perspective! And within the context of any event, I have come to believe it's one of the main goals. Whether it's a Myrtle Beach pool party, a wedding reception, or a large Bar Mitzvah, entertainment fun happens when an entertaining focus is attained and maintained —a worthwhile party objective!

Hora is a Romanian, traditional circle folk dance which gathers all people present in a big closed circle. The dancers hold each other by hands and the circle turns on itself usually clockwise as each participant follows a sequence of taking three steps forward and one step back. During their living in the Romanian Principalities, Jews were heavily influenced by the traditional Romanian folklore, in music and in dances. The Hora is now the unofficial king of Israeli folk dances. Everybody gets in a circle, holding hands and starts stepping forward toward the right with the left foot, then followed by the right foot to match. Bring the left foot back again followed by the right foot. All this is done while holding hands and circling together in a fast and cheerful motion to the right. In large groups you can create several circles while the smaller circles are inside the bigger circle and so on. In the early days, Hora was popular mainly in the Kibbutzim and small communities, later on becoming a "must" in weddings, celebrations and group dancing all over Israel. At B'nei Mitzvah, it is custom to raise the honoree and his or her family members on a chair during the hora. This is also often done at Jewish weddings. The Hora dance could be performed to many of the traditional klezmer and Israeli folk songs. Typically, Hora is danced to the music of Hava Nagila, a popular, well-known song in Israel and throughout the world.
How To Do the Hora


STEP 1: Stand in a circle holding the hands of the people on either side of you.
STEP 2: When the music starts, follow the circle as it rotates.
STEP 3: Step to the side, passing your left foot behind your right.
STEP 4: Move the right foot beside the left foot.
STEP 5: Step to the side again, passing your left foot in front of your right this time.
STEP 6: Continue as the circle keeps spinning, adding a little hop to your steps as you go faster.
STEP 7: Move toward the center of the circle and throw your hands, still holding those of the people beside you, in the air.
STEP 8: Lower your hands and move backward.
STEP 9: Repeat several times.
STEP 10: Resume spinning around the circle.

The Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah are a "rite of passage,"
a crossover from childhood to adulthood; a milestone in a Jewish life.

Judaism deems a boy a "bar mitzvah" when he turns 13 and a girl becomes "bat mitzvah" when she turns 12. (Reformed Jews celebrate both boys and girls coming of age on their 13th birthday).  At that point the child, who is no longer a child in the eyes of Jewish law becomes responsible for his own deeds, spiritually, ethically, and morally.

• Why Celebrate the Bar and Bat Mitzvah?

Though people talk about being "bar-mitzvahed" there is NO ritual that must be performed to be considered a Jewish adult in the eyes of Jewish law.  So what’s the big deal all about?  Why all the celebration? 

Jewish law holds parents accountable for their children's misdeeds. And since moms and dads, as of their child's "coming of age,"  are now no longer liable if their little darling cause damage, steal or lie, it's cause for celebration. It is also a reason to be joyful for the the bar mitzvah boy and bat mitzvah girl, who are now at the age when personal responsibility dawns.  This new accountability is cause for celebration - for both, the parents who are no longer "blamed" for their child's misconduct, and for the child can now be proud of the new responsibility.

For many children, preparing for a bar mitzvah ceremony a highlight of their growing awareness of Judaism and is a moment when they are the center of attention (a most craved position).  To participate in the service gives a sense of belonging.  To be the focus of all the fussing provides a sense of importance.  If it is done right, the experience will be positive and will build a warm, happy, lasting bond with Jewish life. 

Furthermore a bar and bat mitzvah is timed to coincide with the first stretch of adolescence.  As a teen reaches for identity throughout these rocky years, bar and bat mitzvah memories fend for what it means to be a Jew.  In the best case they will foster a sense of connection with all Judaism has to offer.

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