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B'nai Mitzvah

Photo by David Finkel Photography

It is with great joy that the community of Temple Beth Shalom regularly shares the occasion of b’nai mitzvah (the plural of bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah). This rite of passage, which means "children of the commandments," signifies the student’s formal beginning of adult life and responsibilities in the community.

B’nai mitzvah students undertake the following commitments—and more: 
•    Studying Jewish scripture 
•    Becoming proficient in Hebrew 
•    Understanding the teachings of the Torah 
•    Leading and participating in a Shabbat service, including reciting the prayers and readings from the Torah and Haftarah. 

All candidates are also required to undertake a mitzvah project during the time around their b’nai mitzvah date.

Our B’nai Mitzvah Philosophy

Although the b’nai mitzvah celebration is a family event, it is also a time when the child begins to understand their value and importance within the Jewish community and community at large. The development of a strong ethical value system, the evolution of a child's individual and collective Jewish identity, and the understanding of their individual importance in tikkun olam (repairing the world) are all part of becoming a b’nai mitzvah. As the adult community at Temple Beth Shalom participates in Jewish study, worship, and performing mitzvot, so does the b’nai mitzvah student and their family.

In keeping with our focus on community, we especially strive to create an atmosphere of holiness and joy at our Shabbat services. The community rejoices in this rite of passage for every Jewish child, and welcomes the opportunity to celebrate with your family.

The B’nai Mitvzah Process

How We Begin 
Preparation for b’nai mitzvah begins with the child’s participation in our Religious School and Hebrew School. Here students learn about holidays, lifecycle events, Torah and other Jewish texts, tikkun olam, g'milut chasadim (acts of loving-kindness), and basic Hebrew reading skills. They are provided with the opportunity to pray and understand what our prayers are about. Families are encouraged to participate in Shabbat services not only as part of b’nai mitzvah preparation, but as members of our Temple Beth Shalom family.

One Year Prior 
Formal study for b’nai mitzvah begins a year prior to the candidate's scheduled date. Candidates continue to attend Religious School and Hebrew School, while working with a tutor to perfect prayer delivery and understanding. Students learn their individual Torah and Haftarah portions. During this time the candidate works on their approved mitzvah project.

As the Date Nears
About five months prior to the candidate's b’nai mitzvah, the candidate begins meeting with an adult mentor from the congregation to explore the Torah and Haftarah portions, and ultimately, create the d'var Torah (words of Torah) to be shared with the congregation at the b’nai mitzvah service. While many of our students choose to write a traditional speech as their d’var Torah, we’ve had musical teachings, artistic representations, and videos created by our students.

It's Time!
Bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies may take place during:

  • A Shabbat morning service
  • A festival morning service (Sukkot, Pesach, or Shavuot)
  • A Rosh Chodesh morning service
  • A Monday or Thursday weekday morning service

Shabbat morning b’nai mitzvah ceremonies are often shared with another candidate. Families of the candidates provide at least a small Kiddush (wine/grape juice and challah) at the end of services for all in attendance, and many families provide a Kiddush luncheon as well. While there are no formal requirements regarding a private celebration with family and friends, it is the minhag (custom) of the congregation that parties be appropriate for a 13-year-old and avoid ostentation.

Your guides throughout this process are Sara Kaye, B'nai Mitzvah Coordinator and Music Assistant, and our clergy. Please contact us to learn more about our b’nai mitzvah program.

B’nai Mitzvah Resources are available to our congregants through the member portal. Members, log in to your Member Portal to access the B'nai Mitzvah Resources webpage, which offers these items:

  • B'nai Mitzvah Parent Manual
  • Class list
  • Honors Forms
  • Daf T'filah samples
  • Mentor Guidelines
  • Parent Prayer Examples
  • Thank You Examples
  • Photography Policy
  • Vendor List



Thu, July 25 2024 19 Tammuz 5784