If you are ready for this amazing moment in your life and the life of your child, mazel tov! As we prepare our children for their bar or bat mitzvah, we teach the students to read, chant, and understand our services, our prayers, and their meaning. We emphasize their knowledge of our rituals and Jewish life, mitzvot, tzedakah (charity), talmud Torah (Torah study), tefilah (prayer), gemilut chasadim (acts of loving kindness). Our goal for our children and young adults is that they acquire the knowledge and skills to make informed decisions about living as Jewish adults, and that they are able to participate in (and even lead!) services at our congregation, and anywhere they might travel in the future.
The moment when your son or daughter is first called to the Torah is not an end; it is a milestone along a path towards Jewish adulthood. It signifies acceptance of the bar or bat mitzvah into a new status in our community; that is, being considered a ritually Jewish adult among the Jewish people. This includes being counted in a minyan.
The Temple Beth Shalom family is here to assist you in preparing for, planning, and enjoying this event. You are encouraged to discuss your individual needs with the Temple Beth Shalom staff.
Will your child be celebrating bar/bat mitzvah in 2017–2018? Join the parent and b’nai mitzvah orientation on September 10.
Resources for Parents
Several guides are available to help parents and students as they plan for bar/bat mitzvah:
- Download the bar/bat mitzvah Shabbat planning guide for a full description of preparing for bar/bat mitzvah, including the full 3-year timeline that leads up to this special event
- Download the b’nai mitzvah honors sheet, to record who will fill each role in your bar/bat mitzvah service
Eligibility for Bar/Bat Mitzvah
Temple Beth Shalom policy states that any child who meets the following criteria is eligible to celebrate his or her bar or bat mitzvah service at the synagogue:
- Be Jewish according to Conservative Halakhah
- Study Hebrew and our prayers and services
- Successfully complete b’nai mitzvah training program
- Attended Shabbat services as required in preparation for becoming a bar/bat mitzvah
- Parent(s) are members in good standing at Temple Beth Shalom
Scheduling the Bar/Bat Mitzvah
The date for your child’s bar/bat mitzvah service will be determined by the Jewish calendar, your child’s Hebrew birth date, and his/her mastery of the material. This includes participation in Hebrew school. You can expect your child’s bar/bat mitzvah to occur during the 7th grade year.
The date is set approximately two years in advance through a collaborative effort of the Rabbi, Education Director, and Administrator, with input from the parents. If a date will not work, it is best to discuss alternative dates with the Rabbi and Administrator as soon as possible. Of course, if you join our program later, we will work with your child and family to successfully have your life cycle event at a time that is amenable to all.
Bar/Bat Mitzvah Timeline
Although the date of the bar/bat mitzvah service is set about two years in advance (usually some time during the 5th grade school year), your child’s study will increase during the final year of preparation. Parents will also be involved in various Parent Education programs in anticipation of the bar/bat mitzvah. When the student attends Shabbat services during this final year, he/she is to sit with the Rabbi on the bima or in the front of the chapel.
5th grade/Kita Gimmel
- Bar/bat mitzvah service date is scheduled
- Attend Shabbat services as required, at least 10 Friday evenings and 10 Saturday mornings in school year
6th grade/Kita Dalet
- Attend Shabbat Services as required, at least 15 Friday evenings and 15 Saturday mornings in school year
- Initiate b’nai mitzvah volunteer opportunities
- Begin weekly tutorial with assigned peer tutor under the direction and supervision of the lead tutor and Rabbi. Tutorials are 30-minute sessions. The date and time of the tutorials should remain constant throughout the year until the bar/bat mitzvah service
7th grade/Kita Hey
- Attend Shabbat services as required, at least two Friday evenings and two Saturday mornings per month, until three months prior to the bar/bat mitzvah
- Continue b’nai mitzvah volunteer opportunities
- Master the content and become confident in leading the congregation in worship service
- Continue weekly tutorial sessions
With the peer tutor’s assistance, the student is expected to master the following:
- Kabbalat Shabbat, Maariv, P’sukei d’zimra, Shaharit, Torah, and Musaf Services, as able
- Blessings before and after the Torah and Haftarah readings
- His/her Maftir Torah reading
- His/her Haftarah
Three months prior to Bar/Bat Mitzvah
- Attend Shabbat services as required, every Shabbat evening and every Shabbat morning service
- Lead parts of the Shabbat worship services
- Meet with the Rabbi at least 3 times to prepare a tikkun olam project presentation for Friday night, an introduction the Torah service, and a D’var Torah
- Schedule two final practices with the Rabbi
Information for Interfaith Families
At Temple Beth Shalom, there are many opportunities for non-Jewish parents, relatives, and friends to participate. Please feel free to discuss any of these customs with the Rabbi.