Don’t clap the barmitzvah boy

By Simon Rocker
November 3, 2009

Something happened in shul on Shabbat which I don’t recall before. When the barmitzvah boy finished his part, having leyned a sizeable chunk of sidrah and haftarah with aplomb, he was greeted with applause from among some of the congregation. Where has this new craze come from? Does anyone know? When rabbis finish their sermons, can we now expect the shammas to urge "Now, please show your appreciation in the customary way..."



Tue, 11/03/2009 - 12:21

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Surely, it beats the barrage of sweeties

Marcus Dysch

Tue, 11/03/2009 - 12:31

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I was recently at a barmitzvah in Radlett where, following a prolonged bout of appalling decorum, congregants were encouraged ahead of the haftorah to NOT clap the barmitzvah boy upon its completion.

They didn't, but instead chatted away happily throughout his sterling efforts.


Wed, 11/04/2009 - 14:49

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I am a Jew and wish to keep my Jewish tradition alive in my family. This is important to me. In regards to clapping: Some people just didn't know that it is not the correct etiquette, so maybe instead of being angry or even patronising in your comments, it would be a greater, humane thing to just help educate us in a friendly way. Having said this, I know the below may sound ignorant, or maybe too progressive for you, but here goes: I want to clap Bar Mitzvah boys, because despite the religious aspect of them getting up there, I think its an amazing accomplishment to achieve. Clapping can raise there confidence and self esteem. Maybe it could encourage Rabbis to give more interesting sermons if they did get a round of applause. Then at least they could use this feedback as a form of self assessment to see if they reached their congregation, or whether they bored us to death and need to work on a different approach. I sometimes even wanted to clap the choir on Kol Nidra (when they used to sing) as it moved me, and when I get moved I show my appreciation by clapping. Having read Daddy Days article, I will say that I would never wish to offend anyone, by clapping, so perhaps this is something I would now consider. However, I ask you to consider: since the shul going community has declined, should the human gift of clapping, used to represent praise, thanks, appreciation and mazel to people be stopped? Shouldn’t we be finding ways to make our Shuls more inviting and exciting to the younger generation? Instead of just making us feel not good enough, or religious enough?


Thu, 11/05/2009 - 12:07

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In traditional synagogues, when the Bar Mitzvah boy finishes, the Kehilloh wishes him Mazel Tov and / or Yasher ko-ach, often singing a traditional melody in his honour. The repulsive innovation of attacking the boy with sweets has no basis in tradition and degrades the sanctity of the synagogue. Assuming the Rabbi will address the boy after Krias Hatorah, the Rabbi can praise him on behalf of the congregation, who can signify their agreement without applauding. At the Bar Mitzvah dinner one can clap at the end of his speech if you are determined to do so !


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