What is the right bar mitzvah tallit size? That depends not only on the bar mitzvah boy, but on the type of congregation he belongs to as well.
Bar Mitzvah Tallit – Narrow Sizes
In most Reform congregations, people wear the type of tallit that sits on the shoulders and hangs in front, but does not cover the back. This comes in Size 18, Size 24 and Size 36. Those numbers refer to the width. A Size 18 is narrow, just 18 inches wide, a Size 24 is medium and a Size 36 is wide. If he is still short, say under 5 feet tall, he’ll need a custom size. We get this type of request fairly frequently, and have several options available.
Full-Size Bar Mitzvah Tallit
In some Conservative and almost all Orthodox congregations, people wear a full-size bar mitzvah tallit, worn in the traditional fashion – over the shoulders, with the corners pulled down in front and two-thirds of the tallit covering the back and hanging down to the waist (or sometimes even down to the legs).
If you wear the tallit this way, you’ll want a Size 45, Size 50, Size 55 or Size 60, depending on the bar mitzvah tallit wearer’s height.
Of course the best advice is to have the young man try on different bar mitzvah tallit sizes and decide which works best for him. If you’re unsure which size a given tallit is, measure it from top to bottom (from the edge with the neckband to the edge opposite it that hangs down in back). If it’s around 24 inches, it’s a Size 24, if it’s around 36 inches it’s a Size 36, 45 inches is a Size 45, etc.
Tallit Size Video
The following 30-second video shows a 5’1″ bar mitzvah boy sporting the same tallit in four different sizes.