We congratulate you for
showing an interest in celebrating a Bar Mitzvah at the Kotel, the Western Wall,
in Jerusalem. We want to help you in any way we can to create a meaningful and
fulfilling experience for you and your son.
The Western Wall Heritage
Foundation provides assistance in all aspects of organization of a Bar Mitzvah
at the Western Wall.
In this guide, we will try to answer frequently
asked questions. Please contact us with any question you may have. We can be
reached at the phone numbers that appear at the bottom of this
- The Bar Mitzva Center at the
The center helps with information and
services relating to:
• How to get to the Western Wall and where to
• Prayer times
• Various customs
• Information about the prayer
service and the Torah reading
• Lending of tefillin (phylacteries) and tallit
• A person who accompanies, assists, and explains the prayer
service and putting on the tefillin
• Option of providing a chazzan (cantor)
to lead the service and read the Torah
• Preparatory materials for the Bar
- How much does it cost to make a
Bar Mitzvah at the Western Wall?
The Western Wall belongs to the entire
Jewish people and the entrance is free. There are independent people who come to
the Wall and offer to assist families in organizing their event for a price.
The Western Wall Heritage Foundation provides volunteers who will
help you with all aspects of your Bar Mitzvah at the Wall.
- What Should You Bring From Home
for the "Aliyah", Going Up to the Torah?
Putting on Tefillin
In case, for whatever reason, you cannot purchase
tefillin for your child, The Western Wall Heritage Foundation will loan you sets
of teffilin for use during the prayer service. The Bar Mitzvah Center will be
happy to help you with this. Sifrei Torah (Torah
There are tens of Sifrei Torah available at the Western Wall
for use by worshippers. They are located in the enclosed area of the Western
Wall called "Wilson's Arch", to the left of the men's prayer section.
Siddurim (prayer books) and Kippot (skullcaps,
There are siddurim (prayer books) available in all versions of
Ashkenaz or Sefard. Temporary kippot, head-coverings and scarves are available
as well, to make sure that the dress code is suitable to the holiness of the
site. It is obviously better to bring a "real" head covering from material, but
we leave this to your discretion.
- The Prayer Service
Jewish tradition maintains that the
ceremony of putting on the tefillin and being called up to the Torah reading be
done in a quorum of 10 men, during Shacharit (morning prayers) on Mondays,
Thursdays, or on the day of Rosh Chodesh (the first day of the Jewish month).
Often, if the child is not used to a longer prayer service, the family
chooses to have the child only put on the tefillin, or get called to the Torah.
In these cases, the prayer service is much shorter, and includes only the main
parts of the service.
Teffilin is not worn on Shabbat or Festivals
(including the intermediate days of Passover and Succot). Therefore, if you've
chosen to have the "aliyah" to the Torah on Shabbat, you can choose any weekday
to put on the tefillin.
- Guides that Accompany the
We can provide a guide that will accompany
you on the day of the event who can explain the options and the prayer service
to you and your family.
Yechiel Pomerantz (25), a medical student at the
Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is one of the guides in this project. "We speak
to the family members, and try to ascertain what kind of ceremony they want.
There is no coercion here. When I put on teffilin (phylacteries), I explain to
the child what they are, why they are painted black, what the roots of the
tradition are, etc. It is important to me also to explain to the Bar Mitzvah
child what it means to accept responsibility. This is the ceremony that
signifies his becoming a grownup."We would be happy to assist you in
deciding what would suit your family most in marking this special event.
- Prayer Times
In principal, one can read from the Torah
or put on tefillin any time during the day. Since traditionally, one reads from
the Torah and puts on tefillin during Shacharit (the morning prayer), one must
fulfill the mitzvah (commandment) by mid-day. "Mid-day" is determined according
to the time of the year, and times of sunrise and sunset. Ask one of our
representatives what is considered mid-day on the date of your Bar Mitzvah.
- Planning the Day
Keep in mind that many people throughout
Israel, as well as the Diaspora, plan Bar Mitzvahs for Mondays, Thursdays, and
Rosh Chodesh days, due to those being the days when the Torah is read. These are
the more crowded days at the Western Wall - many families come to the Wall, and
the limited parking in the area fills quickly. The crowded hours on these days
are particularly between 9-11 am. The stringent security checks upon entering
the Western Wall site take time as well. Please bear all these possible delays
in mind as you schedule your day.
- Men's and Women's Sections
There are separate men's and women's prayer
areas at the Western Wall. The prayer service takes place in the men's section.
Often the question arises regarding how the mother or other female family
members can participate in this moving event. We recommend having the Bar
Mitzvah near the partition in order to allow the women to hear
- Prior to the Bar Mitzvah
A Bar Mitzvah is a celebration of Jewish
tradition and continuity, and a meeting between the past and the future. On the
one hand, we have the traditional tunes and customs of the family, and on the
other hand, the hopes and dreams for the future of a youngster who is the star
of the show.
In order for all family members to feel good about the Bar
Mitzvah, and for it to be significant for the parents, grandparents, and of
course for the Bar Mitzvah boy himself, we warmly suggest having a "family
meeting" several weeks before the Bar Mitzvah. Knowing what is planned in
advance prevents a lot of tension at the time of the event itself, and allows
for an event that goes according to your wishes.
- Seasons at the Western
On hot summer days
, the sun beats
down on the worshippers at the Kotel. We suggest preparing for this with hats,
sunscreen and lots of water. On rainy days
in the autumn or
winter, the Torah scrolls are not removed from the enclosed area of the Wall.
During those times, the service is held within the enclosed area of the Wall, at
"Wilson's Arch". Women can take part in the service from the women's section
there. This is a relatively small area, so there is a good chance that you may
have to wait a bit until there is room.
As of now, there is no place at the Kotel
for serving refreshments, although we are working on organizing an area in the
near future. Many families celebrate in the covered area on HaGai street in the
Jewish Quarter, at the exit from the Western Wall Plaza. The Western Wall
Heritage Foundation office can supply you with a list of halls and local area
- Touring the Western Wall
Many families decide to combine the Bar
Mitzvah with a memorable tour of the fascinating Western Wall Tunnels. This tour
shows the continuation of the Western Wall, exposed after being covered for over
600 years by houses in the Moslem quarter. This exciting tour is a journey
through time that brings to life the archeology and history of the Wall through
remnants and interactive models of the Second Temple. It is a moving culmination
to a special day, showing our cultural heritage and connection to Jerusalem.
There is a charge for the tour, led by experienced tour guides, and it
is suitable for people of all ages. We strongly recommend reserving the tour
well in advance, due to its popularity.
- Having the Bar Mitzvah Child
Lead the Tunnels Tour
In this unique and challenging program, we
invite the Bar or Bat Mitzvah child to be the guide for their family and friends
on the amazing journey to the secrets held in the Western Wall Tunnels. By
taking on this educational and historic responsibility, the child not only
learns the history of this part of Jerusalem, but learns to convey it as well.
The program includes several meetings between the child and Western Wall
Heritage Foundation tour guides. During these meetings, the child becomes
familiar with the archeology, history, and significance of the site. In
addition, the child receives an educational unit to learn and practice alone or
with members of his/her family. In this way, the child's family is involved with
the preparation leading up to the special day and tour. Alternately, the child
can receive assistance in preparing a sermon and presentation that includes a
fascinating slideshow about the Western Wall and the Tunnels.
On the day
the child leads the tour of the Tunnels, a guide of the Western Wall Heritage
Foundation accompanies the tour as well. However, the focus remains on the two
stars of the day- the Bar/Bat Mitzvah child and Jerusalem.
Every boy that celebrates his Bar Mitzvah
at the Western Wall gets a beautiful certificate suitable for framing, signed by
the Rabbi of the Western Wall. This certificate attests to the fact that the
child celebrated his special day at the most important place to the Jewish
nation- The Western Wall.
- How to Contact The Bar Mitzvah
Center at the Western Wall
Please call with any questions:
- Thursday, 4pm - 7pm (Israel time) at 972 2 6271333
Our address on
the Internet: http://english.thekotel.org/barmitzva