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Bar Mitzvah Speeches

How to write a Bar Mitzvah speech

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Looking for ideas on writing a bar Mitzvah speech, either the mother, father or Bar Mitzvah boy? Follow these instructions and you will likely leave your guests with a smile on their faces.

Writing a speech for a Bar Mitzvah involves several steps. First, you need to work out the broad framework of points or messages that the you wants to cover in the speech. Then, do your own research on the topic, to flesh out this framework with anecdotes, and examples. You should also consider the audience for the speech, which can range from a small informal group to a large gathering. Then, blend the points, themes, positions, and messages with your own research to create an "informative, original and authentic speech" for the occasion.

Start with a story of anecdote to set the mood. It could be a joke or something that you or your family are experiencing. Set the audience at ease, let them know that you are human and not just reading a prepared speech. Once you have set the mood, start with something meaningful to show them that you are not just a 13 year old kid, celebrating a big birthday party. Share with the audience something meaningful that you learned in the run-up to your bar Mitzvah. Did you learn something about your family history or one of your parents or ancestors?

Perhaps there is something from the Torah portion or Haftarah that was meaningful to you. Is there something that is happening in the news or your community that you would like to discuss? Whatever you choose as a subject, try and bring the focus of your speech back to the reason you are all gathered together—to celebrate the occasion of you joining the Jewish community as a young adult.

Once you have a rough draft, show it to your parents and/or teachers to gets some feedback. This might be one of the first times you speak to such a large group and feedback can help you shape your speech.

Practicing the speech is important in order for you to know when to pause, how fast to pace yourself and when to speed things up.

We have posted a number of stories from the book Jewish Fairy Tales and Legends by Gertrude Landa. The stories can be used as an inspiration in a bar Mitzvah speech.

 

Check list:

  • Mention your siblings (in a POSITIVE manner).
  • Thanks your parents for throwing the party and EVERYTHING they have done for you. Remember, you got where you are today because of them.
  • Tell a story or a joke.
  • Relate something important from your experience. Maybe something you learned in preparing for this important occasion.
  • If you are involved in a Mitzvah Project, talk about it and tell the audience why you chose that specific project.
  • Did you connect your speech with something from the Haftarah or Torah readings?

 

 

King Alexander's Adventures

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I. THE VISION OF VICTORY

More than two thousand years ago there lived a king in the land of Macedon who was a great conqueror, and when his son, Alexander, was born, the soothsayers and the priestesses of the temples predicted that he would be a greater warrior than his father. Alexander was a wonderful boy, and his father, King Philip, was very proud of him when he tamed a spirited horse which nobody else could manage. The wisest philosophers of the day were Alexander's teachers, and when he was only sixteen years of age, Philip left him in charge of the country when he went to subdue Byzantium. Alexander was only twenty when he ascended the throne, but before then he had suppressed a rebellion and had proved himself possessed of exceptional daring and courage.

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The Princess of the Tower

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Princess Solima was sick, not exactly ill, but so much out of sorts that her father, King Zuliman, was both annoyed and perturbed. The princess was as beautiful as a princess of those days should be; her long tresses were like threads of gold, her blue eyes rivaled the color of the sky on the balmiest summer day; and her smile was as radiant as the sunshine itself.

She was learned and clever, too, and her goodness of heart gained for her as great a renown as her peerless beauty. Despite all this, Princess Solima was not happy. Indeed, she was wretched to despondency, and her melancholy weighed heavily upon her father.

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The Fairy Frog

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Once upon a time there lived a man of learning and wealth who had an only son, named Hanina. To this son, who was grown up and married, he sent a messenger asking that he should immediately come to his father. Hanina obeyed, and found both his father and mother lying ill.

"Know, my son," said the old man, "we are about to die. Grieve not, for it has been so ordained. We have been companions through life, and we are to be privileged to leave this world together. You will mourn for us the customary seven days. They will end on the eve of the festival of the Passover. On that day go forth into the market place and purchase the first thing offered to thee, no matter what it is, or what the cost that may be demanded. It will in due course bring thee good fortune. Hearken unto my words, my son, and all will be well."

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The Rabbi's Bogey-Man

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Rabbi Lion, of the ancient city of Prague, sat in his study in the Ghetto looking very troubled. Through the window he could see the River Moldau with the narrow streets of the Jewish quarter clustered around the cemetery, which still stands to-day, and where is to be seen this famous man's tomb. Beyond the Ghetto rose the towers and spires of the city, but just at that moment it was not the cruelty of the people to the Jews that occupied the rabbi's thoughts. He was unable to find a servant, even one to attend the fire on the Sabbath for him.

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The Paradise in the Sea

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Hiram, king of Tyre, was a foolish old man. He lived so long and grew to such a venerable age that he absuredly imagined he would never die. The idea gained strength daily in his mind and thus he mused:

"David, king of the Jews, I knew, and afterward his son, the wise King Solomon. But wise as he was, Solomon had to appeal to me for assistance in building his wondrous Temple, and it was only with the aid of the skilled workmen I sent to him that he successfully accomplished the erection of that structure. David, the sweet singer in Israel, who, as a mere boy slew the giant Goliath, has passed away.

I still live. It must be that I shall never die. Men die. Gods live for ever. I must be a god, and why not?"

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The Slave's Fortune

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Ahmed was the only child of the wealthiest merchant in Damascus. His father devoted his days to doing everything possible to anticipate his wishes. The boy returned his father's love with interest, and the two lived together in the utmost happiness. They were seldom apart, the father curtailing his business journeys so that he could hastily return to Damascus, and finally restricting his affairs to those which he could perform in his own home.

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The Pope's Game of Chess

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Nearly a thousand years ago in the town of Mayence, on the bank of the Rhine, there dwelt a pious Jew of the name of Simon ben Isaac. Of a most charitable disposition, learned and ever ready to assist the poor with money and wise counsel, he was reverenced by all, and it was believed he was a direct descendant of King David. Everybody was proud to do him honor.

Simon ben Isaac had one little son, a bright boy of the name of Elkanan, who he intended should be trained as a rabbi. Little Elkanan was very diligent in his studies and gave early promise of developing into an exceptionally clever student. Even the servants in the household loved him for his keen intelligence. One of them, indeed, was unduly interested in him.

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The Palace in the Clouds

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Ikkor, the Jewish vizier of the king of Assyria, was the wisest man in the land, but he was not happy. He was the greatest favorite of the king who heaped honors upon him, and the idol of the people who bowed before him in the streets and cast themselves on the ground at his feet to kiss the hem of his garment. Always he had a kindly word and a smile for those who sought his advice and guidance, but his eyes were ever sad, and tears would trickle down his cheeks as he watched the little children at play in the streets.

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King for Three Days

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Godfrey de Bouillon was a famous warrior, a daring general and bold leader of men, who gained victories in several countries. And so, in the year 1095, when the first Crusade came to be arranged, he was entrusted with the command of one of the armies and led it across Europe in the historic march to the Holy Land.

Like many a great soldier of his period, Godfrey was a cruel man, and, above all, he hated the Jews.

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The Sleep of One Hundred Years

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It was at the time of the destruction of the First Temple. The cruel war had laid Jerusalem desolate, and terrible was the suffering of the people.

Rabbi Onias, mounted on a camel, was sorrowfully making his way toward the unhappy city. He had traveled many days and was weary from lack of sleep and faint with hunger, yet he would not touch the basket of dates he had with him, nor would he drink from the water in a leather bottle attached to the saddle.

"Perchance," he said, "I shall meet some one who needs them more than I."

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The Magic Palace

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Ibrahim, the most learned and pious man of the city, whom everybody held in esteem, fell on troubled days. To none did he speak of his sufferings, for he was proud and would have been compelled to refuse the help which he knew would have been offered to him. His noble wife and five faithful sons suffered in silence, but Ibrahim was sorely troubled when he saw their clothes wearing away to rags and their bodies wasting with hunger.

One day Ibrahim was seated in front of the Holy Book, but he saw not the words on its pages. His eyes were dimmed with tears and his thoughts were far away. He was day-dreaming of a region where hunger and thirst and lack of clothes and shelter were unknown. He sighed heavily and his wife heard.

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The Magic Palace

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Ibrahim, the most learned and pious man of the city, whom everybody held in esteem, fell on troubled days. To none did he speak of his sufferings, for he was proud and would have been compelled to refuse the help which he knew would have been offered to him. His noble wife and five faithful sons suffered in silence, but Ibrahim was sorely troubled when he saw their clothes wearing away to rags and their bodies wasting with hunger.

One day Ibrahim was seated in front of the Holy Book, but he saw not the words on its pages. His eyes were dimmed with tears and his thoughts were far away. He was day-dreaming of a region where hunger and thirst and lack of clothes and shelter were unknown. He sighed heavily and his wife heard.

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From Shepherd-Boy to King

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On a desolate plain, a little shepherd-boy stood alone. His day's work was over and he had wandered through field and forest listening to the twittering of the birds and the soft sound of the summer breezes as they gently swayed the branches of the trees. He seemed to understand what the birds were saying, and the murmuring of the brook that wound its way through the forest was like a message of Nature to him. Sweet sounds were always in his ears, his heart was ever singing, for the shepherd-boy was a poet. At times he would turn around sharply, thinking he had heard some one calling. One day he was quite startled.

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The Story of Bostanai

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In the days of long ago, when Persia was a famous and beautiful land, with innumerable rose gardens that perfumed the whole country and gorgeous palaces, there lived a king, named Hormuz. He was a cruel monarch, this Shah of Persia. He tyrannized over his people and never allowed them to live in peace. Above all, he hated the Jews.

"These descendants of Abraham," he said to his grand vizier, "never know when they are beaten. How many times it has been reported to me that they have been wiped out of existence, or driven from the land, I know not. Yet nothing, it seems, can crush their spirit. Tell me, why is this?"

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The Outcast Prince

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There lived a king who had an only son, on whom he doted. No one, not even his oldest tutor, was permitted to utter a word of correction to the prince whenever he did anything wrong, and so he grew up completely spoiled. He had many faults, but the worst features of his character were that he was proud, arrogant and cruel. Naturally, too, he was selfish and disobedient. When he was called to his lessons, he refused, saying, "I am a prince. Before many years I shall be your king. I have no need to learn what common people must know. Enough for me that I shall occupy the throne and shall rule. My will alone shall prevail. Says not the law of the land, 'The king can do no wrong'?"

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Sinbad of the Talmud

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"Rabba, Rabba, silly, silly Rabba, have you caught another whale to-day?"

With this strange cry a number of children followed an elderly man through the streets of a town in the East. Their parents looked on in amusement and some of them called after the man as the little ones did. Rabba, however, took no notice, but walked straight on with a faraway look in his eyes, as if his thoughts were elsewhere. Presently, on turning the corner of a street, he nearly ran into an Arab coming in the opposite direction. As soon as the children saw the Arab they turned and fled.

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The Water-Babe

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Floating in a basket on the River Nile, Princess Bathia, the daughter of Pharaoh, King of Egypt, found a tiny little water-babe. Princess Bathia was a widow and had no children, and she was so delighted that she took the child home to the palace and brought it up as her own.

She called the babe Moses.

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The Quarrel of the Cat and Dog

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In the childhood of the world, when Adam named all the animals and ruled over them, the dog and the cat were the greatest good friends. They were inseparable chums in their recreations, faithful partners in their transactions, and devoted comrades in all their adventures, their pleasures and their sorrows. They lived together, shared each other's food and confided their secrets to none but themselves. It seemed that no possible difference would ever arise to cause trouble between them.

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The Beggar King

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Proud King Hagag sat on his throne in state, and the high priest, standing by his side, read from the Holy Book, as was his daily custom. He read these words: "For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?"

"Cease!" cried the king. "Who wrote those words?"

"They are the words of the Holy Book," answered the high priest.

"Give me the book," commanded the king.

With trembling hands the high priest placed it before his majesty. King Hagag gazed earnestly at the words that had been read, and he frowned. Raising his hand, he tore the page from the book and threw it to the ground.

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Abi Fressah's Feast

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There was not in the whole city of Bagdad a greedier man than Abi Fressah, and you may be sure he was not popular. It was not that he was rich and refused to give heed to the needs of the poor. He was, in truth, a merchant in moderately affluent circumstances, and he did not withhold charity from the deserving; but he was a man of enormous appetite and did not scruple to descend to trickery to secure an invitation to a meal.

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