Celebrating Jewishly:
The Wholesale Klezmer Band Guide to
Traditional Jewish Music
for Bar & Bas Mitzve Celebrations

Copyright © 1993-2021 by Yosl Kurland

For information and bookings, call Yosl Kurland
at 413-624-3204 or email us at wkb@ganeydn.com

How should we celebrate
my child's Bar/Bas Mitzve?

The parents of the bas mitzve were talking with the caterer to plan their event, when the caterer asked, "and what do you plan to have as the theme of your daughter's bas mitzve?"

Mother and father looked a little puzzled. "Theme? What do you mean, theme?" said the father.

"You know," answered the caterer, "Some people have sports for a theme, some have a candy shop theme, some have movie theme with each corner of the room decorated like a different movie set."

The parents still looked puzzled. Then the mother's face lit up. "Oh, the theme!" she said with a twinkle in her eye. "The theme of our daughter's party is that she is now at the age where she assumes the responsibilities of an adult in the Jewish community, when he or she is expected to fulfill the commandments, and to take part as an adult in Jewish religious life. That's the theme of our celebration!"

The father nodded in agreement, and the caterer was now the one with the puzzled look.

Torah graphic by Peggy DavisA bar or bas A bar or bas mitzve literally means a son or daughter of the commandments. Whether there is a celebration or not, a boy becomes a bar mitzve at the age of thirteen and a girl becomes a bas mitzve at the age of twelve. The event is observed by calling the bar or bas mitzve to read from the torah and haftorah, and often by their leading the Shabbos morning service. And then...how will you celebrate with your friends and family.?

After the kiddush, consider celebrating with a joyous, heymish celebration of Yiddishkayt–Jewishness, with traditional Jewish music and dancing, storytelling and rituals, continuing the religious/cultural experience of the morning service.

What choices are there?

Dancing to traditional Yiddish klezmer music is fun, builds community and connection, and is easy enough to do. It doesn't require lessons, though some groups benefit from dance-leading. The Wholesale Klezmer Band offers the following:

We watch to see just how much dance-leading and encouragement is needed. We communicate with you and the caterer to know when to dance if or when stories and songs are appropriate, and whether the plans need revision at a moment's notice. We're sensitive to keeping the music quiet enough for your guests comfort, and for there to be times of silence during the meal so that your guests can comfortably talk with each other.

Yes, but...

thank you letterYou may be concerned about whether this kind of performance will appeal to and keep a group of Jewish and non-Jewish teenagers entertained and occupied. Youngsters who aren't Jewish may not have any concept of what this is all about, and Jewish kids may not be used to this style of celebration. We have, on occasion, coordinated an event with a DJ or another type of band. When available, one of our band members is a DJ.

"But how do I get the kids to participate?"

The process starts with how you express the meaning of this simkhe to your children, so that they can express it to their friends. Does your child feel the cultural/religious significance of bar/bas mitzve? If you have already imparted this message to your kids, then the next step is to give them the confidence to explain it to their peers. Sometimes it is easier to get the message across to those of their friends who aren't Jewish than to some who are.

Kids behave best when they know what to expect, when they know what is expected of them, and when they feel they are included in the decision making. Here are some suggestions:

Traditional dances

In the old country, instrumental music was not traditional at bar mitzves. The klezmer band came to prominence performing at weddings and traditional dances developed in that context. At a modern bar or bas mitzve celebration with a klezmer band, dances can be adapted from wedding customs.

We'll be delighted to help you plan your simkhe to be a joyous and thoroughly Jewish event.

Planning Your Simkhe, your celebration

The Wholesale Klezmer Band's simkhe advisors are happy to help you plan the way dance and entertainment fit into your celebration.

You can listen to some samples of our music online by clicking on these links or ask us to send you a demo copy of one of our CDs or tapes by calling For information and bookings Joe Kurland at 413-624-3204 or email us at wkb@ganeydn.com

Are You Thinking about Invitations?

Wholesale Klezmer Band's flautist, Peggy Davis, is also a Hebrew calligrapher who designs beautiful and meaningful invitations and gifts (including gifts for your child's teachers) for Jewish life cycle events. Please have a look at samples of her work.

What they say about the Wholesale Klezmer Band

I realized that I never thanked you all, after the fact, for the wonderful performance for Shaina's bas mitzvah. You were terrific, and everyone enjoyed your playing! In fact, I gave your name and number to...

Barbara Low, Lincoln, MA

I just want to say, THANK YOU, (again) for the wonderful job you folks did at Andy's Bar Mitzvah. It was great! We are still glowing with the memories of that day. Thank you for playing your part so well.

Cynthia Eid, Lexington, MA

For help planning your celebration, call:

Wholesale Klezmer Band
Yosl Kurland 413-624-3204
email: wkb@ganeydn.com

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