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Bar Mitzvah Speeches
Orthodox Perspective by Rivka C. Berman

Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah speeches often add another layer of stress during the planning days for the big celebration.  Who should speak? What should be said? Who will write the speech? How to write a speech that is not only appropriate but entertaining and captivating? 

The Bar Mitzvah boy and the Bat Mitzvah girl are always expected to speak.  For kids who love the stage, here's an opportunity to shine. But for the shy ones, the thought of public speaking may be the source of angst, nightmares and unending fear.

Hence, when composing a bar or bat mitzvah speech for the celebrant, take into consideration the nature and tendencies of the child.  Remember that an audience's positive reinforcement will make or break the child.  Keep speeches short, relevant and entertaining.

Parents, or one of the parents of the celebrant should also take the floor.  Again, keeping it personal, short and to the point will endear the speaker to the crowd.

Grandparents, uncles and aunts, spiritual mentors and close friends may contribute as well.  Do not overload the ceremony with speeches, however, for this is a sure formula to render your affair lackluster and boring.

If the burden of writing speeches is too much, contact professional speech writers.  Canned speeches range from around $40 to $100+ per speech.  Personalized speeches are more expensive and depend on the individual requirements. Click here for Jewish Celebrations Speech Writing Services

There is a tried and true formulas to bar and bat mitzvah speeches.
1. Opening
-“Mom, dad, Rabbi ______, relatives and friends…”

2. “This week’s Torah portion…”
-brief synopsis of the Torah portion and/or the haftarah

3. “I was thinking about the verse…”
-highlight one part of the portion that means something to you
-ask a question about one part of the Torah portion
-highlight the deeds of some lesser known people in the portion. Describe the role of women in the parsha or how women may have reacted to the verses and commandments in the parsha.
-answer the question based on:
-a discussion with your rabbi or teacher “I was talking about this with Rabbi _____ and he explained…”
-your own thoughts and feelings
-a commentary. Ever since the Torah was given, Jews have been writing their comments on it. There are many books with explanations on each word of the Torah. (Sometimes you may want to read these books first. Find an interesting commentary, and then build a speech around it.)

4. “This reminds me of a story…” “This reminds me of the time I…”
-Personalize your insight with a story taken from your own life (your parents, your friends, your uncle) or from Jewish history.

5. “With this in mind, now that I am a bat mitzvah …”
-Describe the impact being an adult Jew will make. What will you do to show your ongoing, growing commitment to Judaism?

6. Thank you
-Thank parents for…
-Thank the rabbi and your tutor or Hebrew school teacher
-Thank siblings for not completely embarrassing you.
-Thank out of town relatives for making the journey
-Thank everyone for coming.
(At some synagogues, a limit will be put on thank you section. It is always recommended to keep it short!)

Mazal Tov!

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