In Jewish tradition, when a child has reached his/her thirteenth Hebrew birthday, s(he) has attained legal majority and becomes a “Bar/Bat Mitzvah”, a “Son/Daughter of the Commandments”. (S)He is no longer looked upon as a child with respect to the obligations of Jewish ritual life. Rather, this young person is both permitted and obligated to perform the various commandments incumbent upon any adult within the Jewish community. We at Congregation Ohev Shalom take the responsibilities of adult Jewish life very seriously. It is a time for a parent and child together to make decisions and commitments to the continuation of Jewish life both in the home and through their involvement with the congregation and Jewish community. Most importantly, it is a time to make a commitment to continuing one’s Jewish education. It is only with the help of parents that the Bar or Bat Mitzvah will be of true and lasting significance in the religious development of the child. We depend on you for your guidance and commitment.
Six months in advance of the actual date, you will be contacted by the Cantor in order to begin formal preparation. Ordinarily, a child will participate in the Service by taking an ALIYAH (reciting the blessing over the Torah) and by participating in the chanting of the SEDRA (Torah Portion) and the HAFTARAH (Prophetic portion). The skills necessary can be learned only through diligent study and practice. Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation is not a part of our Religious School curriculum and will be scheduled at hours that do not conflict with a child’s normal studies.
Since children learn by example, we encourage you, as parents, to take an active role in your child’s preparation. Please assure that your child is working up to his/her capability. Our children have varying abilities and learn at different rates. As long as your child works up to his/her capability, (s)he should feel a sense of great accomplishment on the day of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
Since there is no greater teacher than experience itself, it is important that the family attend Shabbat Morning Services for some time in advance of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah date. This will allow you to become more familiar with the liturgy of the Service and your child to feel more comfortable in the surroundings of the synagogue. It is for this reason that we encourage every family to begin to develop regular worship habits six months prior to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
THE PRE-BAR/BAT MITZVAH PROGRAM
Zot HaTorah Exploring the Mitzvot, Torah Text and Midrashim
This special seven session Dalet Class mini-course will help your son/daughter gain a better and deeper understanding of the Torah as (s)he prepares for Bar/Bat Mitzvah. This mini-course will focus on how to make the Bar/Bat Mitzvah and this time in your child’s life most meaningful.
THE BAR/BAT MITZVAH SHABBAT
Services on Shabbat Evening begin at 8:30 P.M. (except for the First Friday each month, our Early Family Service, which begins at 7:30 P.M.) Shabbat Morning Services begin promptly at 9:15 A.M. The first rows of the Sanctuary will be reserved for your immediate family.
Several months prior to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah, the Rabbi’s secretary will send you information pertaining to honors, aliyot and other matters. Please complete the information you are requested to fill in and return it to the office as soon as possible and no later than two weeks prior to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah. When requested, please call the Rabbi’s secretary to set two meetings with the Rabbi. In the first meeting, approximately two months prior to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah, the Rabbi will talk with your son/daughter and introduce the subject of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah speech. In the second meeting, approximately one month prior to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah, the Rabbi will meet with you and your child in order to discuss the meaning of this time in your lives.
Each family will be allotted Torah aliyot (i.e. recite blessings) and an Ark Opening. It is most important, especially in communicating the significance of an aliyah to your child, that the individuals you choose to honor with Torah aliyot feel comfortable accepting that honor. To that end, we will provide you with copies of the aliyah blessings and their English transliteration.
We especially desire to welcome your guests who may be attending Services at Congregation Ohev Shalom for the first time. We ask your help in maintaining the proper atmosphere throughout the Service. Men and women are asked to cover their heads before entering the Sanctuary. On Shabbat Morning, all Jewish men are required to wear a Tallit.
Please help us to maintain a peaceful Shabbat atmosphere that reflects proper respect for our tradition. To that end, we request that cell phones and beepers be turned off before entering the sanctuary. We appreciate you and your guests refraining from use of cameras. Thank you for your cooperation!
ONEG SHABBAT AND KIDDUSH POLICY
Our congregation shares in the joy of your child’s entering the age of personal and communal Jewish responsibility. We know that you are especially proud as your child takes that step. As one tangible expression of that pride and connection with community, we ask that Bar/Bat Mitzvah families sponsor the Oneg Shabbat following the Shabbat Evening Service and the Kiddush following the Shabbat Morning Service on the weekend of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
As you know, many families in our congregation will celebrate a Bar/Bat Mitzvah this year. Through your presence and participation in each other time of joy, our awareness of the blessings of community are enhanced. As one tangible expression of your participation in each others simcha, we ask that you come to a Shabbat Evening Service several weeks before your childs Bar/Bat Mitzvah to serve cake at the Oneg Shabbat. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah families who celebrate that Shabbat will appreciate your participation. The schedule for this honor will be sent to you.
For the Shabbat Evening Oneg Shabbat the Synagogue will provide:
The Congregation will gladly provide Shabbat Morning Kiddush.
CHECKLIST FOR PREPARATIONS
PRE BAR/BAT MITZVAH USHERING
In accordance with Synagogue policy, you are expected to usher on an assigned date prior to your childs Bar/Bat Mitzvah. When you usher we ask that you help us maintain an atmosphere conducive to prayer in our Shabbat Services. You will receive notification by mail of the date to which your family has been assigned.
The Bar/Bat Mitzvah family is expected to supply kipot and head coverings.
Please provide a basket for kipot and head coverings. The basket may be decorated and brought to the Temple Office, before noon, on the Friday of your simcha. You are requested to pick up any remaining kipot by the Tuesday following your simcha.
You are requested to call the Temple Office at least a month prior to your simcha to arrange for picture taking time and date. If you wish to include the Rabbi or Cantor, please confirm day and time directly with the Rabbis secretary, Reba Schneiderman, by calling her at 536-2300 ext 106.
If you will be transporting guests of your child to another facility after your Service, the buses must pick up your guests at the side of the building and must drop them off at a facility other than the Synagogue.
BAR/BAT MITZVAH BIBLIOGRAPHY
Bar/Bat Mitzvah Basics – A Practical Family Guide To Coming of Age Together Edited by Cantor Helen Leneman, Jewish Lights.
Putting God on the Guest List by Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin, Jewish Lights.
For Kids Putting God on the Guest List by Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin, Jewish Lights.
Whose Bar/Bat Mitzvah Is This, Anyway? by Judith Davis, St. Martins Griffin.
The Bar/Bat Mitzvah Memory Book: An Album For Treasuring the Spiritual Celebration, by Rabbi Jeffrey and Nina Salkin, Jewish Lights.
Several of these books are available in the synagogue library.