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A Bar/Bat Mitzvah is a ceremony in which we celebrate that a child is becoming an adult, at age 13, by having the child lead services (largely in Hebrew) and read Torah in front of family and the congregation

Beth Shalom is committed to providing all children of member families with a meaningful Jewish education that prepares each child to become a Bar/Bat Mitzvah and celebrate it in the traditional synagogue ceremony.  Preparation will require a significant commitment of time by both the student and parent(s).

General Requirements

  • Jewish children are considered a Bar/Bat Mitzvah upon reaching the age of 13. Children of member families are welcome to celebrate this event at our Beth Shalom Shabbat services (usually Saturday morning), when they have completed the required Jewish religious training Candidates must be at least 13 years of age, according to either the Jewish or Julian calendar. Exceptions to this policy must be discussed and approved by the Rabbi and/or Education Director.
  • The Rabbi, Education Director, and/or Bnei Mitzvah Tutor Leader will hold an informational meeting each year in May or June with rising 6th graders enrolled in Beth Shalom’s Hebrew School and their parents. Families may select their Bar/Bat Mitzvah date at this time contingent on an assessment of the student’s Hebrew reading proficiency. Date preferences will be available on a first-come first-serve basis. Parents should complete the request form attached at the end of this document along with a submission of one half the required fee or as established by the Beth Shalom Finance Committee to secure a date.
  • At this meeting, requirements for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah will be presented to the family.
  • No ceremonies will be scheduled mid-June through July, during High Holy Days or any Jewish Festival without the approval of the Rabbi and/or Ritual Committee.
  • In addition to demonstrating proficiency in Hebrew, the student must demonstrate a commitment to Judaism through participation in Jewish services, activities, and holidays. Regular participation in a religion other than Judaism will demonstrate a student’s lack of commitment to Judaism and Beth Shalom reserves the right to deny such student the opportunity to lead Shabbat services. These decisions are carefully considered and discussed with the family. Decisions are made by the Rabbi with guidance from the Ritual Committee and Education Director.
  • Beth Shalom encourages all students who complete the Bar/Bat Mitzvah program to continue their lifelong commitment to Jewish learning at Beth Shalom through their High School Graduation and beyond.

Membership Requirements, Fees and Related Costs

  • Prospective Bnei Mitzvah candidates should fill out the “Request for Bar/Bat Mitzvah Date” form found at the end of this document and submit the appropriate fee. As soon as the requested date is confirmed by the appropriate parties, the date will placed on the Master Calendar and a confirming letter will be sent.
  • A family must be members of Beth Shalom in good standing for a minimum of two-years before their child may be considered to lead our services in celebration of their Bnei Mitzvah. Exceptions may be made by the Rabbi with Guidance by the Education Director, Ritual Committee, or President where a family can demonstrate that they were members in good standing at another Jewish congregation for a substantial period of time and that their child attended religious and Hebrew school regularly and a commitment to Judaism as explained in the General Requirements above.
  • Beth Shalom charges a fee to cover expenses related to Bnei Mitzvah training and that fee may be adjusted from time to time by the Budget and Finance Committee. Families must pay one half of this fee upon submission of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Request Date Form and the remainder is due 6 months prior to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah date as defined by the Budget & Finance Committee.
  • Other fees may be charged for set-up, cleaning and use of the facility according to the fee schedule.
  • Families of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah are expected to provide the wine (Israeli Wine is recommended for symbolic and practical reasons) and challah at the conclusion of the service for all attendees. For further information about providing Kiddish, please contact Beth Shalom Sisterhood.
  • Gifts – Families are welcome to acknowledge the efforts of those who participated in the child’s Bnei Mitzvah preparation and ceremony. Families often do so by making a financial contribution to, but are not limited to: the Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund, the Kesher (Connections) Fund, Sisterhood, the Music Fund, Building Fund, Religious School Fund, etc.

Education Requirements

  • Bar/Bat Mitzvah candidates are expected to attend Beth Shalom’s Religious School regularly and actively participate in school activities. This requirement helps foster the Jewish education and also demonstrates the commitment to the Jewish religion. Any exceptions to the above Education Requirement must be approved by the Rabbi with guidance from the Education Director or VP-Prayer as appropriate.
  • Beth Shalom’s program to prepare a student for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah includes: Religious School during grades 3 through 7 and tutoring for approximately 6-12 months immediately prior to the ceremony, including group lessons and individual instruction with tutors and the Rabbi. Regular attendance at classes and services and regular home study is typically sufficient to prepare our students to become Bnei Mitzvah.
  • To ensure that students meet our educational goals and are capable of leading our services, there will be regular testing for Hebrew proficiency during the years of their Hebrew training. If the tutors believe a student is not developing his or her Hebrew skills at an adequate pace, the parents of the student will be notified and an action plan will be put in place. Additional tutoring (which may require an additional expense), more frequent testing or further counseling with the Rabbi may be recommended. The schedule for tutoring will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
  • Learning a foreign language can be difficult for some children. Parents with children who have learning disabilities or other challenges are strongly encouraged to discuss the matter with the Rabbi or Education Director early in the child’s educational program to better serve their child. Beth Shalom strives to provide all students with the assistance they need and will discuss and develop an appropriate plan to fit each child’s needs.
  • Students are also given an option to chant Torah for their Bar/Bat Mitzvah. This needs to be taught about one year before the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Date. This takes diligence and time on both the student and parent. Because this is an option offered to students, it does require an additional fee. For those interested in exploring this option, please contact Lisa Sharp.

Attendance Requirements

  • Students in 3rd through 7th grade are expected to attend 25 of the scheduled 30 classes (75%) of Hebrew School as well as regular attendance at Sunday school.
  • Students are also expected to attend all scheduled classes with the Rabbi and/or assigned tutors.
  • The Shabbat Friday evening and Saturday morning services are of primary importance in the education of our youth as they proceed toward becoming Bnei Mitzvah. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah experience centers around the Shabbat Service and the Torah Service. At Beth Shalom, we offer many opportunities for families to attend services that will have meaning for them. We have Family Services once a month, Tot Shabbat Services twice a month, Youth Services once a month, and our weekly Friday evening services. The general congregation is always welcomed at all our Bnei Mitzvah Services that take place on Saturday morning as well. Students and their families are strongly encouraged to attend these events. We also encourage parents and students to take regular advantage of any of the services offered.
  • Years of experience have consistently shown that the best learning experience for your students is attendance at services and participation in Jewish rituals and ceremonies. Families of Bar/Bat Mitzvah students are encouraged to attend services with their children to assist the student’s understanding of the experience of congregational prayer to gain familiarity with the choreography and flow of the ceremonial service and to acquire the feeling of being “at home” in the synagogue and at services.
  • Families that do not wish to participate in Beth Shalom’s traditional Bar/Bat Mitzvah program, but still wish to celebrate or honor the 13th birthday of their child in some other manner, are encouraged to meet with the Rabbi to explore other options.

Service Requirements

  • A Bar/Bat Mitzvah candidate are expected to lead/co-lead services. However, exact requirements will be determined by the Rabbi or the Bnei Mitzvah Tutor and may vary from child to child to suit specific circumstances and needs.
  • The Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony will generally be held during Shabbat Saturday morning services. Any exceptions must be approved by the Rabbi.

Service Decorum

  • Students are expected to dress appropriately – in a way which shows honor and respect for the place and occasion – when participating in services.
  • Videotaping and non-flash photography is permitted provided they do not disrupt the ceremony in any way, according to Temple guidelines.

Adult B’nei Mitzvah Requirements

  • Adults who wish to partake in Bar/Bat Mitzvah training and ceremonies are offered a variety of opportunities for learning and preparation. These include participation in Adult Hebrew classes, Group and/or individual tutoring by Bnei Mitzvah leadership, Torah Study groups, Spirituality Study groups and Individual Study with the Rabbi.
  • Requirements for study and ceremony are to be determined on an individual or group basis by the Rabbi and adults members, well in advance of a planned date. Date selection must be coordinated with the Rabbi and the Ritual Committee Bar/Bat Mitzvah Coordinator.