Bar and Bat Mitzvah is a major milestone for a Jewish boy or girl. It is also an important emotional and religiouspassage for parents and the entire family. We celebrate our child’s coming of age; for parents, our child’s becoming a Bat or Bar Mitzvah gives us a chance to affirm the values and relationships we hold most dear. Following time honored Jewish tradition we make these affirmations in the presence of family, friends and community. We incorporate prayer, study of Torah, tzedakah, hospitality and celebration.
TAS/HJC participates in the URJ B’nai Mitzvah Revolution program. Our b’nah mitzvah students and their families select from many different options, all of which are designed to make the b’nai mitzvah experience more engaging and more relevant to their lives. This program, or parts of the program, are easily replicable at other congregations.
To accomplish all of this takes collaboration between parents, the student, clergy, educators, synagogue staff as well as relatives, friends and a host of others. At Temple Adas Shalom we approach this process with a true sense of teamwork, derekh eretz (respect for each other) and yirat Shamayim (respect for our Creator). It is an honor to join you on this sacred journey.
View/Download our B’nai Mitzvah Parent Guide
View/Download Sanctuary Etiquette
For families preparing for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, the following documents will help explain some of the decisions that need to be made, and include several forms to be completed. We encourage you to download and print these, as you will likely refer to them frequently:
B/M Preparation Form. This form should be maintained by the family throughout the B/M process, as it tracks progress for the family and the Temple. It is physically housed at the Temple.
B/M Menu. Families have 4 different options for their child. The overall B/M Menu describes the key aspects of each option. Once an option is selected, the family should download and complete the form for the specific option selected.
B/M Torah & Haftarah Worksheet. This sheet is to be completed by the student as he/she reads and learns about the Torah portion (parsha) and the accompanying haftarah. This worksheet is delivered to the Rabbi upon completion. Resources to aid in completing this worksheet are provided in a separate file.
Student Mentor program. We recommend that B/M candidates have both an adult tutor as well as a student mentor. The first file describes the program; the second file is the contract between the student mentor and the Rabbi; the third file is the contract that all parties agree to in order to set up a specific mentoring arrangement.
Instructions for Visual T’filah and Torah Karaoke. These two documents provide instructions on how to go about implementing Visual T’filah and Torah Karaoke, should either of those options be selected for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah
The Tri-Mitzvah-Lon was developed to enhance the “mitzvah” aspect of the Bar or Bat Mitzvah. The Tri-Mitzvah-Lon allows our students to experience the fulfillment of serving their temple, their community, and the Jewish people. Details about the program are contained in the B’nai Mitzvah Parent Guide.
A HISTORY OF THE BAR/BAT MITZVAH CEREMONIES
In modern Jewish practice, Jewish children come of age at 13. When a child comes of age, he or she is officially a Bar Mitzvah (“son of the commandments”) or Bat Mitzvah (“daughter of the commandments”). The terms are commonly used as a short-hand for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah’s coming-of-age ceremony and/or celebration.
In its earliest form, the only ceremony associated with a child becoming Bar Mitzvah was a blessing by the child’sfather thanking God for freeing him from responsibility for the deeds of his child, who is now accountable for his own actions. By the 17th century, boys celebrating their coming of age were also reading from the five books of Moses (the Torah), chanting the weekly Haftorah portion from The Prophets, leading services and delivering learned talks. In 1922, the founder of the Reconstructionist Jewish movement, Mordecai Kaplan, held the first Bat Mitzvah ceremony, for his daughter Judith.
A typical Bar/Bat Mitzvah involves the child taking an active part in Friday night and Saturday morning services on a Shabbat close to his or her 13th birthday. Training for participating in the service typically begins at least a yearbefore the ceremony. Reserving a date for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony at a synagogue also may require advance notice of a year or more.
Historically, bar/bat mitzvah has been viewed as a first step in a young person’s acceptance of the obligations to family and community as a responsible Jew. It was and should continue to be the beginning of a lifetime of the
performance of mitzvot, study, prayer, and a commitment to share the destiny of the Jewish people.
KEEPING BAR AND BAT MITZVAH IN PERSPECTIVE
(From The Bar and Bat Mitzvah Handbook: A Manual for Parent and Student, Temple Ner Tamid, Bloomfield, NJ)
BAR/BAT MITZVAH IS ABOUT THE ACCEPTANCE OF RESPONSIBILITY.
In the final analysis, this is the bottom line of becoming a bar and bat mitzvah. It’s not about acquiring the skill of k’riah,—”the reading of the Torah.” Rather, it’s about acquiring the skill of responding to a challenge: a mitzvah.
This is how Judaism defines maturity.
THE TORAH IS THE CENTER OF JUDAISM.
Everything we do as Jews, everything we believe, everything we value revolves around the Torah. The Torah is the testimony of our people’s encounter with God. And, however you interpret those events in the wilderness of Sinai some three millennia ago, what cannot be dismissed is the sacredness with which our ancestors have embraced this legacy. This is why the first mitzvah we expect our children to fulfill is to stand at Torah.
BAR/BAT MITZVAH IS A COMMUNITY OBSERVANCE.
It is not by coincidence that we choose to hold this initiation ceremony in public. To be a Jew means to live within a covenantal relationship—not only with God but with other Jews as well. Bar/bat mitzvah marks the entry of the
child as a full-fledged member of the community. The awarding of an aliyah, (“being called to the Torah”), is a gift
Morah Linda’s Maftirs
Linda Needel is a passionate and devoted teacher, tutor and “maftir maiven” for all those preparing for that big day marking their entry into Jewish adulthood. This site has been been created for those who wish to listen to Torah Maftirs as part of their study and preparation for their bar or bat mitzvah.. It is a work in progress, so any questions/comments are welcome.