What is your experience with this tradition?
“At the party, we were doing the hora. They bring in a chair, without arms even though I asked for arms. Four men lifted the chair up. One person was pushing harder than the others. Being pushed up in the chair with no arm rests. I asked to be put down. It happens during Hava Negila”
Why do you think this is a thing?
“Probably to single out the person and make it known that it’s their day and that this whole ceremony is about them. Maybe it’s spiritual and you’re getting closer to god? It’s kind of stupid”
My informant is my roommate. She was raised in Conservative Judaism and had her Bat Mitzvah when she turned 13. A Bar/Bat Mitzvah is the Jewish coming of age ceremony that happens when a child turns 12 or 13. Hava Negila is the song that Jewish people traditionally dance the Hora to. The Hora is a traditional dance that involves dancing in concentric circles. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah teen is lifting in the center of the Hora circles. This story was collected when we were talking about Judaism during dinner.
This tradition is practiced by Jews of all observance levels and ethnic backgrounds at Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, and the majority of Jews have no idea why we do it. We weren’t commanded to lift people in chairs through religious texts or by our religious leaders, it’s just a tradition that Jews practice. Some people think that the “lifting” component has religious connotations, but most Jews agree that it’s just for fun and to highlight the Bar/Bat Mitzvah teen on their special day. The experience of having a chair with no arms and being asked to be put down is a common one, and I myself didn’t have a great time being lifted at my own Bat Mitzvah.