By this point in the COVID-19 pandemic, most temples have made the call to have virtual services vs. in-person services. This is certainly different than you envisioned the big day, but there are so many possibilities and positives of doing a Virtual Bar or Bat Mitzvah service this way.
The number of attendees is limitless, so there is no need to cut the guest list. People who may not have traveled (even in non-COVID times!) due to health, finances or distance will be able to attend live.
Opportunity for personalization
Your service will likely be at your home, so you can get creative with your background. Do you want to be outside? Have a special memento in the background? Or, you could use a green screen and be anywhere (even look like you are on the bima!). Will your streaming platform allow you to show a montage or share photos?
Lower carbon footprint
Think of all the benefits to the environment. Guests won’t be traveling, so there will be a reduction in carbon emissions.
Less stage fright
Having hundreds of people staring at them while reading Torah can be scary for even the most confident tween. With a virtual service, there is a bit more of an anonymous feeling since they don’t have to see the people watching them.
Easy to record or photograph for posterity
It’s streaming anyway, so just hit record. Many synagogues make it hard or impossible (especially Conservative or Orthodox shuls) to photograph or record on Shabbat but if your service is at home, anything goes. Many more observant shuls are scheduling Bar and Bat Mitzvahs on days other than Shabbat, so now there is more flexibility there.
This is a time in history unlike anything that has ever occurred before. Your child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah story will be unique. Someday they will tell their children about becoming a Bar/Bat itzah during the great pandemic.
Virtual Services Conclusion
Try to keep a glass half full perspective because there are many great things about having a virtual Bar or Bat Mitzvah service. Your child will follow your lead, so keep these benefits in mind.