Bar/Bat Mitzvah

(Son or Daughter of the Commandments)

Importance of becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah

The celebration of your child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah of is one of the most important events in their lives and yours. It marks a turning point in their relationship to the Jewish community and their commitment to Jewish practice. It recognizes the changes in maturity affecting their ability to accept responsibility for moral-ethical and life decisions in the near and distant future. It is a key rite of passage, and a cause for great celebration.

Your involvement in the entire process sends a vital message to your children. It tells them that this course of study is important to you too, even if your own knowledge is limited. The central message is that your children feel your love, support, and presence while they are on their journey.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation

Bar/Bat Mitzvah instruction is part of a well rounded Jewish education and, as such, is part of the overall Religious School program.

Instruction will take place in the Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation. This class begins approximately one year prior to the student’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah date. Your child(ren) will have gained extensive knowledge and will be comfortable with many parts of the service from their Religious School experiences that preceded this preparation year.

Regular attendance at Religious School classes and Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation, as well as at Shabbat morning services, is necessary for students’ knowledge, comfort, and acceptance of becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah.

Daily study and practice is needed and expected in this preparation year.The amount of time needed for daily study will differ with each student. It is important for parents to monitor and be involved in their child’s work and progress.

Upon beginning preparation of his/her Haftarah, periodic meetings with the Rabbi will be scheduled. Approximately six months before the ceremony they will become weekly. They provide for more intensive guidance and training as well as time for discussions preliminary to writing the D’var Torah.

There will be periodic meetings of the students and parents as a group throughout the Bar/Bat Mitzvah year. Parental involvement is imperative for your child(ren’s) support, identity, and assurance of a successful Bar/Bat Mitzvah.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah participation in the service

It is expected that all students will learn to:

  • Lead the service, taking the Torah out of the Ark and returning it.
  • Recite the blessings before and after the Torah reading.
  • Read the Maftir (Bar/Bat Mitzvah portion) from the Torah using “trope” (musical accents).
  • Recite the blessings before and after the Haftarah (Prophetic reading)
  • Chant the Haftarah in Hebrew using the “trope” notations.
  • Recite Kiddush for Shabbat morning.
  • Prepare a D’var Torah, a speech reflecting their thoughts on the Torah portion, Haftarah portion, their Jewish life and the significance of becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, as well as a summary/introduction to the Torah and Haftarah.

Candidates are encouraged to participate even more fully in the service. This might include reading more extensively from the Torah and leading parts of the morning service (Shacharit) and/or Musaf.

(In the case where a child experiences extreme difficulties learning to read Hebrew, changes in the degree of participation in the service and manner of preparation will be arranged in consultation with the Rabbi and the Religious School Director.)