Jewish tradition teaches that at the age of thirteen a child reaches the age of mitzvot (commandments). In our times, Jews recognize and celebrate this religious coming of age in the synagogue in the presence of the congregation. During the service, the Bar or Bat Mitzvah is called to the Torah to recite the traditional blessings, to read from the Torah and chant a Haftarah.
At The Jewish Center, the Bar and Bat Mitzvah program actually begins long before a child's 13th birthday. From the time they enter our Religious School until Siyyum Tichon (graduation from Hebrew High School) our educational programs prepare our students for their transition to Jewish adulthood. Becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah is one very important step along the journey.
We believe that preparation for Bar/Bat Mitzvah is a working partnership among the student, the parents, and the spiritual leadership of The Jewish Center. Along with the traditional prayers, our goals for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah student are to become knowledgeable about Jewish ethics and traditions, community service and tzedakah, and to feel comfortable participating in the spiritual and cultural life of our synagogue.
Important Dates and Requirements:
- When students are in the fifth grade, they are assigned the date of the upcoming Bar or Bat Mitzvah based on their Hebrew birthdate. Please keep in mind that we do not celebrate B’nai Mitzvah at TJC in the summer or on holiday weekends.
- Approximately two years prior to the child's 13th birthday, parents will be invited to an introductory meeting regarding the Bar and Bat Mitzvah process, led by the Rabbi, Cantor and the B'nai Mitzvah Coordinator.
- The child must currently attend an acceptable Jewish education program.
Bar and Bar Mitzvah preparation includes the following:
- Students attend a tropes (cantillation) class, which teaches the melodies of the Torah and Haftarah portions.
- In addition to Religious School during the Bar and Bat Mitzvah year, students must attend 18 Shabbat morning Torah classes, followed by services in the Main Sanctuary.
- Each student will receive 24 private lessons at TJC over a seven month period prior to their date.
- Students are required to perform ten hours of community service. At the Friday night service, each student will give a brief presentation on his or her Hesed project.
- Each student will meet with Rabbi Feldman to discuss his or her D'var Torah - a brief speech about the meaning of that week's Torah or Haftarah portion – and to review logistics and honors for the Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebration. Parents are expected to attend these meetings
Various staff members are involved in making your child's celebration run smoothly. Cantor Jeff Warschauer or Sharon Diamondstein, the Director of Congregational Learning, can direct you as necessary, answering questions concerning assignment of dates and educational requirements. Ken Turkewitz, our Executive Director, can answer questions related to the use of our facilities for your celebration.
(For fuller answers to questions on Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, please see our handbook.)