The answer is maybe.
If we go by the simple rule that all invited guests must be connected to your child, then they fit the criteria. But if that was the only consideration, you’d be inviting many more people than you planned on. Open a dialogue with your child about these folks. He or she will tell you who they truly consider important, whether they connect once a week or once in a blue moon.
But the conversation doesn’t end there. It may be wonderful for your son to see a beloved coach or teacher in the congregation as he presents his d’var Torah, but does he want Coach Craig “getting down” next to Aunt Deborah during the Cha Cha Slide? If the answer is “yes,” and your budget and venue space allow, you can move on to seating chart strategy. If the relationship is close but not cry-during-the-montage close, consider a compromise: invite favorite teachers, coaches, tutors, and sitters to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah service and luncheon, but not to the formal celebration. However, if the planned party immediately follows the service in the afternoon, it’s time for hard decisions. That invitation will be all or nothing.
Many Mitzvah families also wonder if they should invite their synagogue’s clergy, or, if they don’t belong to a synagogue, the rabbi who performs the Bar/Bat Mitzvah service. Should you? You should consider it. But don’t expect them to come. Hopefully you have built, or are building, a relationship with your rabbi and cantor, in which case the invitation is a gesture of appreciation for the spiritual guidance of your Mitzvah kid at this important time in your lives. But most clergy don’t attend because if they come to one, they would need to attend them all, so it’s unlikely you’ll be getting a “yes” response.
- Check with your child about favorite adults they’d like to attend the Bar/Bat Mitzvah, helping them to distinguish between those they just “like” and those with whom they’ve formed a friendship.
- Clarify if the favorite adults should be included in just the service/luncheon or also invited to a separate celebration. Your budget and space considerations should also factor into this decision.
- Consider inviting clergy and Hebrew tutors as a sign of respect and appreciation, knowing that they are not likely to attend.
For more tips on paring the guest list click here.