B’nei Mitzvah FAQs

(Almost) Everything You Need to Know About Your Child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah

When will I learn the date of my child’s bar/bat mitzvah?

During the spring of your child’s fourth grade year, you will be asked to complete a questionnaire, which will help us schedule your child’s bar/bat mitzvah. A few weeks later, you will receive the date.

When your child is in sixth grade, he/she will receive his/her Torah portion, and you will receive a handbook outlining – in detail – everything required of your child – and you – leading up to the bar/bat mitzvah.

Will my child have a b’nei mitzvah partner?

It has long been Temple Beth-El’s practice to pair students together. Initially, this was driven by having more students than available dates. However, as the practice evolved, these partnerships yielded good friendships and strong relationships between families. During focus groups on the b’nei mitzvah process, students reported that they liked having a partner to share the experience with and said that their partners helped them reduce stress. In the spirit of building relationships, we continue this practice whenever possible.

I know the date of my child’s bar/bat mitzvah, now what?

Attend Friday night and Saturday morning Shabbat services as often as you can. This will help your family become comfortable with the prayers and the format of the services. Formal preparations for your child’s bar/bat mitzvah will begin approximately five months prior to the big day. At that time, you and your child will meet with Cantor Pincus, who will talk you through the process in detail.

I’ve heard sessions with Rabbi Gluck are a highlight of the bar/bat mitzvah experience.

Very true! Rabbi Gluck will meet with you and your child for a series of approximately eight thirty-minute sessions to establish a personal rapport and discuss the meaning of the bar/bat mitzvah in Jewish tradition and in the life of your family. He will also work with your child to develop a clear understanding of his/her Torah portion and assist your child in writing his/her d’var Torah (a personal statement that includes a lesson from the Torah portion). These meetings will also afford you the opportunity to make Rabbi Gluck aware of any special needs or concerns you may have, and to clarify the “game plan” as the process moves forward.

What is the process for teaching my child to chant his/her Torah and Haftarah portions?

Your child will have eighteen thirty-minute one-on-one tutoring sessions – six with tutor Larry Epstein and twelve with Cantor Pincus. At the conclusion of these, your child will have two bimah rehearsals with the cantor and your family.

So many blessings! How will my child learn them all?

Not to worry. In Hebrew School your child will have learned the blessings that are part of the bar/bat mitzvah ceremony. These include Torah blessings, Haftarah blessings, the blessing over the tallit, the V’ahavta, the Avot/Imahot, the Gevurot, and the Kiddush. Attending Shabbat services will also enhance the learning process.

I’ve heard my child will have to complete a “mitzvah project.” What is that?

Jewish tradition teaches that life requires us to perform acts of kindness. The mitzvah project offers your child an opportunity to come up with a service project of his/her own that will impact the world in a positive way. The options are endless. The intent is to show our young people that there is much value to ourselves and others in working to make the world a better place.

Can I have a photographer take pictures during my child’s bar/bat mitzvah?

To capture the bar/bat mitzvah in photographs, many families choose to have professional pictures taken in the sanctuary prior to or shortly after the day of the bar/bat mitzvah. Popular times include weekday afternoons and Friday mornings.  Another option is before the Saturday morning service; however, these sessions must conclude before 9:15 a.m. To schedule time in the sanctuary, please contact our executive director, Amy Rubin, at least two weeks prior to the date you would like to reserve. Although we don’t allow photographs to be taken during the service, you can arrange ahead of time to have the service recorded on our synagogue’s video-recording system.

Will there be a kiddush following my child’s bar/bat mitzvah service?

The bar/bat mitzvah service is a regular temple service open to all members of the congregation. As such, it is our custom to have the bar/bat mitzvah families provide a juice/challah/cake/cookie kiddush for all in attendance to share. This “simple” kiddush typically runs about 30 minutes.

I would like to host a luncheon at the synagogue. Can I do that?

Of course. A luncheon, whether it is a low-key affair or full-fledged party, may require rental of one or more of our social halls. For information about reserving the social hall(s) and rental costs, please contact our executive director, Amy Rubin.

If you are interested in learning about the origins of the bar and bat mitzvah, and how they’ve evolved over time, go to ReformJudaism.org.