After a morning Bar or Bat Mitzvah service, it’s traditional to have a little nosh for your guests in the form of a Kiddush Luncheon (sometimes spelled Kiddish).
What is a Kiddush Luncheon?
A Kiddush Luncheon is an opportunity to gather with friends and family immediately following your child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah service and do something very Jewish–eat! Since it is Shabbat and traditional Jews do not use an oven, the luncheon usually consists of a cold, dairy meal including platters of bagels, cream cheese, lox, egg salad, tuna salad, fruit salad and/or cookies. There is usually a specific place at each synagogue where this happens, a Social Hall, Multi-purpose room or similar.
Sometimes a Kiddush Luncheon can feel like an afterthought in a Bar or Bat Mitzvah weekend since an evening party takes much more time and effort to coordinate. However, this is a mistake! While this generally a low-key portion of the Bar or Bat Mitzvah weekend, there are still a lot of logistics to think through–everything from who will be serving and cleaning up the food to how the room will be decorated. You want to take good care of your guests and make sure that the Kiddush Luncheon gets them excited for the evening party still to come!
It’s also a great opportunity to greet your guests in a less formal way, as well as for them to catch up with each other. Encourage your child to mingle more with relatives and adult guests at the luncheon, so for your evening party, he or she can focus on their friends.
Questions to ask your synagogue about a Kiddush Luncheon
Traditions related to Kiddush Luncheons are a little different at every synagogue, so you’ll definitely want to see what the norm is at your congregation. Here are some questions to ask:
- Is this a Kiddush Luncheon included as part of my Bar or Bat Mitzvah fee?
- If so, what is included in the luncheon? Is it possible for me to upgrade the food or other options at my expense?
- If not, is there the option to use a space at the synagogue? How much is the rental fee?
- What is the procedure to rent space for a Kiddush Luncheon?
- Am I expected to have food for anyone who comes to services or is this a private function for my guests only?
- Is there a group at the synagogue who is available to assist with a Kiddush Luncheon? (Sometimes the Sisterhood offers this as a service.)
- If my child has a partner for their service, can we/do we have to share a Kiddush Luncheon with them?
Why you WOULDN’T host a Kiddush Luncheon.
There are a few reason why you wouldn’t have a Kiddush Luncheon as part of your Bar or Bat Mitzvah celebration. First, if you’re having an afternoon/early evening Bar or Bat Mitzvah service (sometimes called a Mincha or Havdalah service), you’ll just go right into an evening celebration and skip it entirely. Second, if you’re having an afternoon party, a Kiddush Luncheon is not necessary since you’ll feed your guests at the party itself.