B'nei Mitzvah: What You Need to Know

Picking a Date

When can my child have their Bar/Bat Mitzvah?

The day your child turns 13 on the Jewish calendar... happy birthday! You've got yourself a bar/bat mitzvah. At TBA, we encourage all our students regardless of gender to celebrate becoming b'nei mitzvah at the age of 13. We find that giving all our students 13 full years of doing and learning in the Jewish world helps their readiness, both emotionally and with skill acquisition. Our kids get to celebrate roughly in the same year as their classmates. This also makes it possible for the synagogue and school leadership to build supportive programming grade by grade.

In some communities, the custom is for girls to be acknowledged as b'not mitzvah (that's plural for bat mitzvah) on their 12th Hebrew birthdays. Questions about this aspect of TBA tradition? We encourage you to set up a conversation with Rabbi Kligfeld before selecting a bat mitzvah date.


Wait... my kid has a Hebrew birthday?

Yep. We all do. It's also sometimes called a "Jewish birthday". The date your child was born corresponded with a date on the Jewish calendar. Thirteen years later on that same Jewish calendar date, your child becomes a bar/bat mitzvah. This means that they can celebrate on the bimah on that date or any time afterward. The 13th Hebrew birthday can sometimes occur a few weeks before or after the 13th secular calendar birthday. Because of shifting calendars, the parsha that was read during the week your child was born may not be the same parsha the week of their 13th birthday.

Here are some helpful online calculators that you can use to figure out your kid's 13th Hebrew birthday [insert hyperlinks]. Or just call or email Judy Alban and she'll be glad to help you do the math.

When can I schedule the date?

You can call or email Judy Alban the first day of the month when your child will turn 10 (on the secular calendar). For example, if your child was born on June 15, 2008, you can (and should!) contact Judy on June 1, 2018. We’ll help you book a Shabbat morning within about ten weeks of the birthday, although we occasionally book dates further out because of personal or communal conflicts.

You'll be asked to pay the $500 Bar/Bat Mitzvah Fee to hold the date. Once payment is received, Judy will send you a letter confirming the date.

What if there’s another bar/bat mitzvah in the community that day?

Another factor in scheduling your date is to not pick a date that conflicts with another student in the same class or learning community, even if one of you will be holding it at a venue other than TBA. We strive to create a warm and inclusive community, and we want students to be able to attend and participate in the b’nei mitzvah of classmates. Because of this, we strongly urge you not to book dates that overlap with the b’nei mitzvah of classmates. Judy can be helpful in letting you know if others are booking outside of TBA so that this can be coordinated fully.

What if my child will be celebrating somewhere other than TBA? Do I have to tell anyone? Do I have to pay any fees?

We’re always glad to know if you have firm plans to celebrate your child’s bar/bat mitzvah, even if you’ll be doing so outside TBA. Please notify Judy Alban [hyperlink to contact page] so that she can add it to our internal calendar. We do this so that we can encourage our other TBA families to avoid scheduling services and parties on the same day or weekend.

You’re not obligated to pay the bar/bat mitzvah fee if TBA is not the site of your child’s primary bar/bat mitzvah service. However, we strongly encourage you to engage as a family with our bar/bat mitzvah journey. If your child will participate in the majority of b’nei mitzvah preparatory activities, we do ask for you to pay the fee.

The Big Day at TBA

Where & when does the bar/bat mitzvah service take place?

The primary bar/bat mitzvah celebration happens on Shabbat (Saturday) morning. Most b’nei mitzvah take place in our Shir Hadash service in the main sanctuary. Saturday morning services start at 9:15 a.m. and typically end by 12:15 p.m.

What if my family usually attends the Library Minyan or BAIT Tefillah?

Some families in our community make their main Shabbat home in the Library Minyan. The Library Minyan is proud to host b’nei mitzvah from these families in the Dorff-Nelson Chapel, where Shabbat morning services take place starting at 9:45 a.m. All families are welcome to explore the Library Minyan and get to know that community-within-a-community. For more information about b’nei mitzvah standards and expectations in the Library Minyan community, click here or contact Sandra Lepson, Library Minyan Rosh.

BAIT Tefillah services typically take place in Pilch Hall on Shabbat mornings. When a family whose primary Shabbat home is BAIT Tefillah is celebrating a child becoming bar/bat mitzvah, we combine BAIT Tefillah with Shir Hadash in the main sanctuary. On those mornings, we do our best to bring BAIT flavor to the services with deliberate choices in music and Torah-teaching styles.

Does the bar/bat mitzvah do a lot?

In a word, yes. The bar of excellence for TBA students is one of the highest in the region. We’re hoping that’s one of the reasons that you choose to celebrate at TBA -- that you share this community’s commitment to teaching our kids to know, love, and lead all things Jewish.

Here are some of the things that many of our students lead/do on Shabbat morning:

  • Chant a significant part of their Torah parsha [hyperlink to vocab page]. Learn more about how much of the Torah is read on a Shabbat morning by viewing the FAQ about it on this page.
  • Chant the Haftarah
  • Lead the Torah Service
  • Deliver a d’var Torah
  • Lead Shaharit

Does the bar/bat mitzvah do everything?

Though our b’nei mitzvah do a lot, and do it well, every bar/bat mitzvah takes place in the context of a TBA community service. This means that there will be lots of voices and faces sharing the bimah that day. Typically, the officiating rabbi leads the first part of the morning services, guides the morning as emcee, and offers their own words of Torah. The cantor blesses the bar/bat mitzvah, leads Musaf, and sometimes leads other parts of the services like Shaharit.

Can other family members and friends participate by leading and chanting?

We love it when family and friends take leadership roles in the service! You’ll probably be honoring some of your guests with ritual responsibilities and English readings, like opening the ark and reading the Prayer for Peace. If you have guests who are capable of reading Torah and/or leading services, and you’re thinking about giving them an opportunity to participate as leaders, please mention this in the year-out meetings with the officiating rabbi and cantor. We’ll talk about what it means to make space for others to lead and/or chant that day, and what we’ll do to prepare for that participation.

What if the typical slate of things that a bar/bat mitzvah leads doesn’t fit with my child’s needs or style?

Every kid is different. Our clergy and senior staff work with each family as a team, with one goal in mind: the development of a beautiful and meaningful ceremony that recognizes the bar/bat mitzvah as a member of our Jewish community. Working with the needs of your child in mind, there are a number of ways to adapt the typical path. We can devise individual programs: some suggestions include additional tutoring, a longer preparation time, and/or an alternative celebration day (e.g. Shabbat Minha, Weekday, etc.). It’s our hope that every bar/bat mitzvah experience the accomplishment of this journey in a way that fosters love of Torah and Jewish community, and a sense of pride in accomplishment. Planning is the key to the success of any bar/bat mitzvah service. If you expect that your child has some needs that require preparation beyond the usual, please contact us early so we can guide a successful process.

Which rabbi(s) will be there?

All of our clergy would love to be at every bar/bat mitzvah. In practice, our cantor is typically at every bar/bat mitzvah in the main sanctuary, along with one of our two rabbis. Our senior rabbi officiates at roughly two-thirds of b’nei mitzvah, and our associate rabbi guides the rest. We try to let you know which rabbi will be officiating by your year-out rabbi meetings, and then we’ll confirm who’s on that day a few months before the bar/bat mitzvah. Library Minyan b’nei mitzvah services are lay-led, but one of our clergy will come to the chapel to offer words of Torah and blessing to the bar/bat mitzvah.

What do I need to provide that day?

Not much. In the days prior to the bar/bat mitzvah, we ask you to drop the following items at TBA, either at the office upstairs or down at the security desk:


On the day itself, you’ll want to remember to bring:

Standards & Customs

Does my family need to belong to TBA at the time of our child’s bar/bat mitzvah?

Yes. Here are the TBA policies regarding membership for families who are planning to hold bar/bat mitzvah services at the synagogue:

  • Families preparing for a bar/bat bitzvah must be full members of Temple Beth Am.
  • You’ll need to maintain your membership from the time of the scheduling of the bar/bat mitzvah service through and including the full year of the bar/bat mitzvah service. Please note that TBA’s membership year goes from July 1 through June 30. This means that all families who plan to hold a bar/bar mitzvah service at TBA after June 30 in any given year must renew their membership prior to that date.
  • The current year's membership dues and any outstanding balance must be paid in full prior to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
  • Affiliate members are not entitled to participate in the bar/bat Mitzvah program.

Questions or concerns about these membership policies? Please reach out to our Executive Director, Sheryl Goldman

What if I want to honor people but I’m not sure if they’ll know how to, say, take an aliyah or lift the Torah?

Not to worry! Most of the honors on Shabbat morning don’t require much knowledge or practice. But for the few honors that do require some knowledge or skill, like taking an aliyah to the Torah (which involves chanting in Hebrew), our cantor will happily provide visual and audio tools, and possibly coaching, to help honorees prepare. We want to enable people to celebrate as often as possible.

Of course, we also want to avoid putting anyone in an anxious or embarrassing position. If you’re worried or conflicted about giving out an honor, it’s always a good idea to check with our clergy first. In any case, we always ask that you submit your honors sheet (more info about that below) to Cori Drasin before you print your program (more info about the program on this FAQs page).

Does my child need to be in enrolled in a TBA school (Pressman Academy, or our Jewish Learning Community at the time of their bar/bat mitzvah?

Yes. A long time before you (probably) pictured your little one getting up on the bimah at their bar/bat mitzvah, their formal Jewish educators were planting the seeds of skill and knowledge that our b’nei mitzvah demonstrate expertly. We set the following educational expectations in place to support a planful, healthy path of learning:

  • Temple Beth Am requires the completion of a minimum of five years of formal Jewish education or its equivalent.
  • This educational requirement may be fulfilled either in one of our schools (The Pressman Academy Day School or Jewish Learning Community) or at another Conservative congregational school with a comparable program.
  • Your child must be enrolled in a formal program of study from the time of the scheduling of the bar/bat mitzvah through and including the entire school year in which the bar/bat mitzvah celebration takes place.
  • Minimum Hebrew language proficiency levels must be achieved prior to the beginning of individual bar/bat Mitzvah tutoring.

Questions or concerns about these educational policies? Need help navigating education options for your child? Please contact our Director of Youth Learning and Engagement, Rabbi Yechiel Hoffman

How often should we be coming to Shabbat morning services, in general?

During the year prior to the bar/bat mitzvah, the child and their family are expected to attend Shabbat Morning services a minimum of 12 times in the TBA venue in which the celebration will take place. We encourage you to use this time to brush up on your own synagogue skills, or to acquire new ones so that you may participate and perhaps lead portions of the Service.

But we really mean it when we say that every Shabbat at Temple Beth Am is worth attending. And not just because our vegetarian cholent is delicious. Our families tell us that attending Shabbat services in the time leading up to their bar/bat mitzvah is a gratifying and spiritually-enriching experience.

For that matter, why wait until the year before the bar/bat mitzvah to get started? As you’ll see mentioned throughout this portal, there are many different services people call home on Shabbat mornings. If you start exploring those different services in the years leading up the bar/bat mitzvah, you may find your family sweet spot (or spots!) among our communities-within-a-community.

Who can we assign honors to during the bar/bat mitzvah service?

We do our best at TBA to make Shabbat look and feel very different than all the other days of the week. Here are some of the things we do, and don’t do, to help that happen:

We do:

  • Wear fancier clothes that other days of the week. Most people choose to dress somewhere between business casual and cocktail, keeping in mind a sense of modesty and respect for the holy space in our building. Avoid clothes that are torn or ripped, sleeveless or strappy, low-cut (on top) or particularly short (on bottom). Jeans, t-shirts, and other really casual clothes should be saved for other times and places.
  • Greet people with extra love. We put a special emphasis on formal and informal greeting of both congregants and guests. Keeping with the spirit of Shabbat means that, when someone comes to sit by you, you offer them a warm smile and hand them a book open to wherever we are in the service.
  • Eat. As a reward for the mix of participation and patience throughout Shabbat morning, b’nei mitzvah families and others in the community sponsor hyperlink to “Do we have to sponsor the kiddush?”] food and drinks following services.
  • Use microphones. We have microphones in place in all of our sacred spaces in order to make our services accessible to all present. The Library Minyan occassionally arranges for a service in which no microphones are used in the chapel.


We avoid:

  • Using electronics in our building. Shabbat is a time for being totally present and focused on community, celebration, and prayer. We ask that all cell phones, pagers, tablets, and other electronic devices are not used anywhere in our building*. If your responsibilities as emergency or medical personnel requires you to carry such a device with you during your Shabbat visit to TBA, we ask that you set it in such a mode that its presence is totally discreet (volume off or on vibrate).

*If you use electronic devices as medical or communication aids, we welcome you to use those devices at any time in our building. Please let us know if we can facilitate a more accessible and/or inclusive experience for you in any way, notifying us ahead of time when appropriate.

  • Photography and videography. Shabbat is also about being in the moment. Please refrain from using any photographic or outside video recording devices during the services or at anytime during Shabbat. Families often arrange to take pictures during the final run-through, which happens during the week preceding the bar/bat mitzvah or at another time in advance of your celebration. You can work with our Lifecycle Coordinator, Cori Drasin, to arrange for remote videotaping of Shabbat services in the Sanctuary for a fee [hyperlink to contact page]. Archival audio recordings are made of Shabbat morning services in the sanctuary on a regular basis and copies of particular recordings are available upon request.
  • Writing. Please avoid sign-in books, last-minute cards, doodling, and the like.
  • The usual instrumental music. We sing a lot on Shabbat! But, for the most part, we let our instruments rest. Some families take advantage of the special mood of the day to arrange for a capella musical entertainment at their Shabbat celebrations. In the case that your family does want to have insturmental music, please keep in mind that only ambient Jewish and Israeli music appropriate to the spirit of Shabbat is permitted. Dance bands should be saved for post-Shabbat celebrations.

We encourage you to explain these expectations to your guests ahead of time. This could be done by sharing the above language in the invitations, via email, or more individual communications. Many families find that, even for the uninitiated, the experience of a few hours immersed in the Shabbat “mode” allows guest of b’nei mitzvah to focus and enjoy the special occasion.

We bet you’re excited to honor friends and family on the day of the bar/bat mitzvah service. You might also be a little nervous; it can be challenging to figure out who to honor, what they’d be comfortable doing, and how not to hurt any feelings or leave anyone out in the process. We have an honors sheet to help you sort this out visually. But first, let’s take a look at the honors you might be giving out:

One important note: All the honors described below, with two exceptions, are reserved for Jewish individuals. The exceptions are noted clearly. We know this can be a sensitive issue, and all our clergy welcome questions about how to lovingly include non-Jewish family and friends in the service.

  • Ark Openings (and Closings): The ark gets opened (and closed) twice during the service, so this is an honor that can be given out to two different sets of people. This honor is appropriately given to 2-4 people for each ark opening/closing. Important note: this honor requires access to the bimah via stairs.
  • Carrying the Torah: Most of our b’nei mitzvah carry the Torah as they parade it around the congregation, twice. In some cases, the bar/bat mitzvah chooses not to carry the Torah, or it may be a special Shabbat with more than one Torah scroll (the rabbi and/or cantor will clarify this early in the meeting process). In either of these cases, a family member or friend may be assigned to carry a scroll. Note: Torah scrolls can weigh about the same as a small toddler, and though they’re not as squirmy, they are heavy and can be a bit tricky to carry.
  • Taking an aliyah to the Torah: There are eight aliyot (that’s plural for aliyah), chunks of Torah read on a Shabbat morning. Each time an aliyah is read, there is an opportunity for a maximum of two individuals at a time to be given the honor of coming up to the Torah and chanting blessings in Hebrew before and after the chunk is read. At TBA, we always reserve two aliyot to be given out by clergy or gabbaim to congregants before or Shabbat morning. Here’s what this means for your family:
    • If your child is reading haftarah, they will be given the honor of saying blessings before and after the eighth aliyah, also known as the maftir. In addition to that, your family is welcome to assign the honors associated with up to five additional aliyot, leaving two aliyot honors to be assigned by our clergy or gabbaim. In these cases, the parent(s) of the bar/bat mitzvah usually take the honor of saying the blessings for the 7th aliyah. Since it’s a custom for people who take the honor of an aliyah to stay standing near the Torah for the next aliyah, this lets our parents stand up at the Torah as their child takes their first aliyah on a Shabbat morning!
    • If your child is not reading haftarah, they will be given the honor of saying blessings before and after the seventh aliyah. In addition to that, your family is welcome to assign the honors associated with up to four additional aliyot, five if you also assign a friend or family member to read haftarah (in which case they’ll have the honor of the maftir aliyah). This leaves two aliyot honors to be assigned by our clergy or gabbaim. In these cases, the parent(s) of the bar/bat mitzvah take the honor of saying the blessings for the 6th aliyah. Since it’s a custom for people who take the honor of an aliyah to stay standing near the Torah for the next aliyah, this lets our parents stand up at the Torah as their child takes their first aliyah on a Shabbat morning!
  • **Reading the Prayer for Our Country (English): Found on page 148 in the blue Siddur Sim Shalom. Appropriate for 1-3 people. **CAN BE ASSIGNED TO NON-JEWISH GUESTS.
  • Reading/Singing the Prayer for the State of Israel (Hebrew): Found on page 149 in the blue Siddur Sim Shalom. Appropriate for 1-2 people.
  • **Reading the Prayer for Peace (Responsively in English): Found on page 149 in the blue Siddur Sim Shalom. Appropriate for 2-3 people. **CAN BE ASSIGNED TO NON-JEWISH GUESTS.
  • Chanting Ashrei (Hebrew): Found on pages 151-152 in the blue Siddur Sim Shalom. Appropriate for a younger sibling, sometimes alongside the bar/bat mitzvah. Can be read in full, or may be started with the first few verses and concluded with the last few verses.
  • Leading Ein Keloheinu & Aleinu: typically lead by friends, classmates, and/or cousins & siblings. Comes at the end of services.
  • Adon Olam: typically lead by friends, classmates, and/or cousins & siblings. Comes at the end of services.

What if I have too many people to honor?

There may not be enough honors to go around. It happens. But it’s also possible that our clergy can work creatively with your family to find opportunities for honors beyond the ones listed above. Please don’t hesitate to ask.

What if I want to honor people but I’m not sure if they’ll know how to, say, take an aliyah or lift the Torah?

Not to worry! Most of the honors on Shabbat morning don’t require much knowledge or practice. But for the few honors that do require some knowledge or skill, like taking an aliyah to the Torah (which involves chanting in Hebrew), our cantor will happily provide visual and audio tools, and possibly coaching, to help honorees prepare. We want to enable people to celebrate as often as possible.

Of course, we also want to avoid putting anyone in an anxious or embarrassing position. If you’re worried or conflicted about giving out an honor, it’s always a good idea to check with our clergy first. In any case, we always ask that you submit your honors sheet to Cori Drasin before you print your program

Who is required to wear a kippah and tallit?

We ask all men and boys (Jewish and not) to cover their heads with a kippah inside the synagogue building. Many of the women and girls in our community also cover their heads whenever they’re in the synagogue building. The norm at TBA is to cover one’s head with a kippah, a wide scarf/headband, a doily, and sometimes a hat. When it comes to hats and head coverings, use good judgement (and help your kids to do the same). Ask yourself, “Does this head covering show that I respect this as a holy space?” (Wearing a baseball cap or a sweatshirt hood probably doesn’t.)

During Shabbat morning services, it’s appropriate for any Jewish men and women, girls and boys who have reached the age of bar/bat mitzvah to wear a tallit.

Anybody who comes up to the bimah for an honor must wear a head covering, regardless of age, gender, or religion.

All our b’nei mitzvah are asked to wear a head covering and tallit.

How does TBA do Shabbat? What’s allowed, and what’s not?

We do our best at TBA to make Shabbat look and feel very different than all the other days of the week. Here are some of the things we do, and don’t do, to help that happen:

We do:

  • Wear fancier clothes than other days of the week. Most people choose to dress somewhere between business casual and cocktail, keeping in mind a sense of modesty and respect for the holy space in our building. Avoid clothes that are torn or ripped, sleeveless or strappy, low-cut (on top) or particularly short (on bottom). Jeans, t-shirts, and other really casual clothes should be saved for other times and places.
  • Greet people with extra love. We put a special emphasis on formal and informal greeting of both congregants and guests. Keeping with the spirit of Shabbat means that, when someone comes to sit by you, you offer them a warm smile and hand them a book open to wherever we are in the service.
  • Eat. As a reward for the mix of participation and patience throughout Shabbat morning, b’nei mitzvah families and others in the community sponsor food and drinks following services.
  • Use microphones. We have microphones in place in all of our sacred spaces in order to make our services accessible to all present. The Library Minyan occassionally arranges for a service in which no microphones are used in the chapel.

We avoid:

  • Using electronics in our building. Shabbat is a time for being totally present and focused on community, celebration, and prayer. We ask that all cell phones, pagers, tablets, and other electronic devices are not used anywhere in our building*. If your responsibilities as emergency or medical personnel requires you to carry such a device with you during your Shabbat visit to TBA, we ask that you set it in such a mode that its presence is totally discreet (volume off or on vibrate).

*If you use electronic devices as medical or communication aids, we welcome you to use those devices at any time in our building. Please let us know if we can facilitate a more accessible and/or inclusive experience for you in any way, notifying us ahead of time when appropriate.

  • Photography and videography. Shabbat is also about being in the moment. Please refrain from using any photographic or outside video recording devices during the services or at anytime during Shabbat. Families often arrange to take pictures during the final run-through, which happens during the week preceding the bar/bat mitzvah or at another time in advance of your celebration. You can work with our Lifecycle Coordinator, Cori Drasin, to arrange for remote videotaping of Shabbat services in the Sanctuary for a fee [hyperlink to contact page]. Archival audio recordings are made of Shabbat morning services in the sanctuary on a regular basis and copies of particular recordings are available upon request.
  • Writing. Please avoid sign-in books, last-minute cards, doodling, and the like.
  • The usual instrumental music. We sing a lot on Shabbat! But, for the most part, we let our instruments rest. Some families take advantage of the special mood of the day to arrange for a capella musical entertainment at their Shabbat celebrations. In the case that your family does want to have instrumental music, please keep in mind that only ambient Jewish and Israeli music appropriate to the spirit of Shabbat is permitted. Dance bands should be saved for post-Shabbat celebrations.

We encourage you to explain these expectations to your guests ahead of time. This could be done by sharing the above language in the invitations, via email, or more individual communications. Many families find that, even for the uninitiated, the experience of a few hours immersed in the Shabbat “mode” allows guests to focus and enjoy the special occasion.

Do we throw candy?

We dump candy. We promise it’s totally just as fun as the throwing thing and results in a lot more candy actually hitting the bar/bat mitzvah’s head. Siblings and/or friends usually do the dumping. We sing, dance, and encourage the little kids to come collect the fallen candy. When the bar/bat mitzvah is chanting haftarah, the candy dumping happens after they finish reading the blessings that follow the haftarah. When the bar/bat mitzvah is not chanting haftarah, candy dumping happens immediately after the 7th aliyah.

Family Participation

Do the parents of the bar/bat mitzvah give a speech?

A few years ago, TBA transitioned from parent speeches to “parent blessings”. It’s become a really touching tradition. Parents craft a personalized 200-word blessing in the form of a prayer.

Parents offer this blessing in addition to the traditional “asher petarani” in the moments preceding their child’s first aliyah to the Torah.

I’m a parent of a bar/bat mitzvah. Can I chant Torah or haftarah, or lead services? How about my family or friends?

First of all, how awesome that you asked! And secondly, yes (probably)! We say “probably,” and not yes, because our first priority is to leave space for our bar/bat mitzvah to lead and read as much as they can capably, sanely learn. Our clergy will help guide a family conversation at a year out to help parents and kids make a choice about how much family and friend participation there may be in the service that day. Often, when there’s desire to chant, there’s also opportunity to chant. Occasionally, friends or family of the bar/bat mitzvah lead parts of the service.

If it seems like there’s a good space for parent (or family/friend) participation, our clergy would be honored to help you prepare for your role. Please note that anyone who chants Torah or haftarah on Shabbat morning must read at least once for our cantor no later than the Thursday before the bar/bat mitzvah. Yes, even if they’re really good at chanting. Yes, even if they are themselves clergy. No exceptions. (You can just point them to this webpage.) They can do this check in by phone, and can always leave a recording on the cantor’s voicemail.

Dates & Deadlines

The Timeline

Bar/Bat Mitzvah (BM) Checklist for Parents

A Preparatory Guide as of Spring 2016 | 5776

42-36 Months Prior

What should we aim to accomplish? Who’s involved? Who do we contact?


Participate in first required Bar/Bat Mitzvah meeting

Parents

BM Coordinator

36 Months Prior


Choose a date; complete intake process.

·Families must be TBA members in good standing from

the time of date selection through the year of BM.

·Students must complete 5 years of formal Jewish education

and be enrolled in an approved program through the year of BM.

·Dates may be reserved on the first of the month that your

child turns 10. In special circumstances, the synagogue may consider a date for a girl before her 13th Hebrew birthday.

·Note that there are special requirements for Library Minyan

BM; check with the Library Minyan Simcha Coordinator.

Parents

BM Coordinator


Receive a letter acknowledging the BM date that we have on hold for your family; this letter will contain a request that you pay the BM fee.

Parents

BM Coordinator


Submit payment of $500 BM fee.

Parents

BM Coordinator


Receive confirmation letter including notice a receipt of payment.

Your BM date is now official.

Parents

BM Coordinator


Meet with TBA Events Coordinator Ronna Sundy to complete contract and submit deposit for a private and/or congregational reception if desired. Please note that rooms are reserved on a first-come,

first-served basis.*

Parents

TBA Events Coordinator

24-12 Months Prior


Meet with Cantor, if necessary, to discuss any special needs that you anticipate.

Parents

(May include child.)

Cantor


Check with Sheryl Goldman, Executive Director, regarding current

status of Temple membership.

Parents

Exec. Director


2 Encourage student to select a Community Service project and/or

designate a tzedakah to support as one of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah

commitments.

Parents and child



E Engage in first programming with BM Cohort (around 18 mos. prior).

Parents and child

BM Coordinator

14 Months Prior


Schedule first appointment with Cantor to plan tutoring process and build a meaningful journey of preparation for BM day.

Parents and child

Cantor


Schedule first appointment for student and parents to meet privately with their officiating rabbi, to review expectations, discuss aliyot and honors, and begin to personalize the BM experience.

Parents and child

Lifecycle Coordinator


If the family is not already attending TBA Shabbat Morning services regularly, begin to do so in the venue where BM will be held,

at least 12 times prior to the date of the BM.

Parents and child


*Temple Beth Am is anticipating a construction period, not prior to the year 2017, during which the Sanctuary and/or Ballroom may become unavailable for Services and/or private rental. Should this be the case for your scheduled date, we will notify you at the earliest possible time and do our best to provide alternate options for your Service location. Should the Ballroom or other banquet rooms become unavailable, any room deposits received will be fully refundable.

12-9 Months Prior


Select a tutor from the approved TBA tutoring list.** Begin weekly meetings with tutor and student between 8-10 mos. prior, dependent

on achievement goals for BM day.

**Families may also enlist a tutor outside the TBA list; those tutors will be asked to establish a professional connection with our. Tutors who

successfully guide a TBA student through this journey may be

invited to join the TBA list.

Parents and child

BM Coordinator

and/or Cantor


Participate in a Beit Midrash night with assigned mentor (offered three times per academic year) to work on d’var Torah preparation and skills.

Child

(Parents welcome)

BM Coordinator


2 Meet with Facilities Coordinator Amy Rabin to discuss arrangements

for Congregational Kiddush, if not previously handled by Events

Coordinator. All BM families are required to sponsor some level of

kiddush for those worshipping in their venue; a separate private

kiddush may be arranged for invited guests.

Parents

Facilities Coordinator


Choose invitations, Grace After Meals booklets (if desired), kippot and

arrange for any original artwork. Make other arrangements for

reception/party décor and entertainment.

Parents and child



Arrange for photographer/videographer (if desired). Please note that p photography and videography is strictly prohibited on Shabbat. For a

video-recording in the Sanctuary, private arrangements may be made

at the family’s expense for a pre-set recording from the balcony. For

audio recording arrangements, please contact the rabbi’s office.

Parents

Events

Coordinator


2 Purchase tefillin and tallit for the child.

Parents (and child)

Rabbis or Cantor


Schedule a six-month-out progress check-in with Cantor.

Child

Cantor

3 Months Prior


Schedule 2-3 appointments for child to meet with officiating rabbi to

complete her/his d’var Torah; compliment this with assistance by

mentor and parents.

Child

Lifecycle Coordinator


Provide picture (digital headshot) of the child for Kol Ha'am.

Parents

BM Coordinator


Attend weekly “Tefillah Skills Jam” sessions to prepare Shacharit.

Child

BM Coordinator


Schedule a final run-through with both the officiating rabbi and cantor for the week of the BM. May include hiring a photographer.

Whole family

Lifecycle Coordinator

1-2 Months Prior


Schedule a two-month-out progress check-in with Cantor

Child

Cantor


Determine with student if they will attend Thursday

(prior to BM) morning Daily Minyan service for aliyah, blessing,

and tefillin wrapping. May be done on a different date by request.

Parents and child

Lifecycle Coordinator


Submit a draft of the honors sheet and program 10 full business days before the BM.

Child

Lifecycle Coordinator


Mail invitations.

Parents



Submit a draft of the 200-word original parent blessing no later than the Tuesday before the BM.

Parents

BM Coordinator


Prepare and print final program. (Templates available by request.)

Parents

Lifecycle Coordinator

Private Celebrations

Can my family host a private party at TBA?

Temple Beth Am can provide the perfect place for your bar/bat mitzvah lunch, dinner and/or other festivities. Temple facilities are available at a reduced fee for those who choose to have a Friday night dinner, luncheon following a Shabbat morning service and/or an evening or Sunday party. We encourage you to consider your options well in advance of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Only a signed contract with a deposit will guarantee your room reservation; contact the Events Coordinator, Ronna Sundy for fees and additional details.

When can my Saturday evening celebration start?

Temple Beth Am discourages families from scheduling Saturday night parties to begin before Shabbat has ended. Shabbat ends one hour after Friday night candle-lighting, and observant families cannot arrive until after that time. If you plan a Saturday evening event on or off site, we ask that you time it so that all of your guests may be present for the beginning of your celebration. For events at TBA that begin with havdallah, please note that there may be no photography, sign-in book, tie-dye, face painting, etc. until after Shabbat is over.

The Fee

How much is the bar/bat mitzvah fee?

You’ll be asked submit a $500 Bar/Bat Mitzvah fee upon formally securing their date. This fee is non-refundable and holds the date just for your family.

Why do I have to pay this additional fee? What does it cover?

This fee helps cover additional learning and bonding experiences that are so critical to the bar/bat mitzvah experience. Over the past two years, we’ve been growing this program and investing lots of energy into improving the whole bar/bat mitzvah journey. Some of these opportunities include:

  • Tefillah Skills Jam: A weekly group training course for leading the Shaharit taught by our cantor
  • Beit Midrash Night: A night of learning where students are matched with mentors to do in-depth study of their parsha [Hyperlink to Vocab page] in service of their crafting a d’var Torah while parents are engaged in parallel learning.
  • Family Cohort meetings with other families, staff and clergy

There are several more components in the works, including a B’nei Mitzvah Bootcamp for our sixth graders that will focus on the mitzvot of giving and community service.

Tutoring & Group Learning

When should tutoring begin?

The first tutoring session should take place after the year-out meeting with our cantor. If you anticipate your child will need “extra” tutoring (please see below), please plan to be in touch with our cantor at least 18 months before the bar/bat mitzvah date.

How much tutoring will my child need?

It depends. In order to master to learn the (impressive) average amount of material that most students choose to take on [Hyperlink to “Does the bar/bat mitzvah do a lot?”], students typically need no fewer that 18 hours of individual instruction. That one-on-one learning usually takes place in either half-hour or hour chunks once a week. Taking into consideration vacations and holidays, that learning often takes place over the course of a year, or a little longer.

How do I know if my student will need extra tutoring, or extra time?

There are two common reasons for encouraging a student to start learning early: that the student has significant learning challenges, or that the student plans to chant and/or lead much more than the average bar/bat mitzvah. If you suspect that one or both of these factors are at play for your child, please be in touch with our cantor at least 18 months before the bar/bat mitzvah date.

Who does the tutoring?

We’ve changed our tutoring system in the past couple years so that families are empowered to directly select their child’s tutor. We are grateful that our two talented, seasoned tutors continue to teach the majority of our students. Hillel Tigay has been tutoring TBA students for nearly 25 years, and Robert Pflug has been tutoring our students for nearly a decade. To learn more about their teaching styles and philosophies, please click on their names above. Tutoring sessions with both of these teachers take place at TBA on weekday afternoons.

If your family is interested in hiring a different tutor for your child, please contact our cantor to learn more about the parameters for selecting an appropriate individual instructor.

How much will tutoring cost?

Both of our veteran teachers charge $50 per half hour session. You might discuss alternative session lengths with individual tutors. Prices are subject to change and may vary among external tutors. Please note that families are responsible for paying tutors directly at the beginning of each month; please make specific arrangements for payment with your child’s tutor.

Questions about tutoring costs? Please be in touch with Cantor Chorny.

What are students supposed to learn with their tutors?

Tutors focus on reviewing and refining the skills associated with chanting Torah (and haftarah), leading prayer services, and reciting blessings. Our skills tutors don’t typically focus on learning about the child’s parsha or helping to prepare the D’var Torah (sermon/speech).

Who works with the student on their D’var Torah (speech/sermon)?

On the day of your child’s bar/bat mitzvah service, they’ll present a short sermon about their parsha. If you have Torah-knowledgeable people in your family or circle of friends, it’s always great to have students learn with multiple teachers. Sometime within 4-8 months before the bar/bat mitzvah, your student will participate in a Beit Midrash Night; this is a night of learning where students are matched with mentors to do in-depth study of their parsha in service of their crafting a d’var Torah while parents are engaged in parallel learning. Then, four months before their bar/bat mitzvah, your child will meet with the officiating rabbi to begin the writing process in earnest. They’ll meet with that rabbi twice, sharing ideas and edits digitally along the way.

Celebrating with Community

Is our family supposed to sponsor the kiddush following Shabbat morning services?

We ask that every Bar/Bat Mitzvah family share their celebration with the congregation by hosting a communal Kiddush following services on Saturday morning. For some families, this means that they’ll sponsor an open kiddush for both their guests and congregants who attend services that day. Some families choose to do a private lunch for invited guests; for these families, sponsoring the congregation’s Kiddush is also mandatory. Ronna Sundy, our Events Coordinator, will happily provide you with various options and costs.

Please be aware that there may be multiple celebrations in our facility on any given Shabbat morning. We recommend that you make your room reservations as soon as you book your bar/bat mitzvah date. Please contact our Events Coordinator to make these arrangements. You can also fill out our Room Reservation and Booking form.

Does the bar/bat mitzvah participate in any services on their big weekend other than the Shabbat morning service?

We love it when our b’nei mitzvah attend and even lead some of the other services throughout their bar/bat mitzvah Shabbat. Friday night is a particularly popular time for families to gather and support their bar/bat mitzvah in leading a small portion of services. This is something that the cantor will discuss at the year-out planning meeting.

Can my family come to Daily Minyan to celebrate this occasion?

Absolutely! We encourage b’nei mitzvah to come to services on the Monday or Thursday morning before their Shabbat celebration. It’s a great opportunity to wear tallit and tefillin, and to come to the Torah for an aliyah. The Daily Minyan takes place every weekday morning at 7:30 a.m., and Sundays and federal holidays at 8:00 a.m. Services last about 35-50 minutes, depending on the day and occasion.

The Daily Minyan is always delighted to welcome families of b’nei mitzvah, and we want to be sure that you feel comfortable and prepared for the experience. Questions about what to expect and how to appropriately celebrate within the context of Daily Minyan? Please contact Cantor Chorny. She’ll be glad to answer your questions and/or connect you with a friendly liaison among the Daily Minyan regulars.

Other Questions

Who makes the programs? And how many copies should we make?

Printing bar/bat mitzvah programs is optional. Your family is responsible for crafting and printing your own programs if you choose. Judy Alban has lots of sample programs that she can share with your family digitally or in hard copy. Please be in touch with Ronna Sundy for a suggestion as to how many copies you should make.

Please wait to print your programs until you have submitted your completed honors sheet to Cori Drasin and either the cantor or officiating rabbi has approved the lineup.

What if my family is celebrating in Israel/camp/elsewhere?

Sounds fun! Please let us know:

  • If you’d held a date at TBA that we can now release to other families and/or programs.
  • When you’ll be celebrating elsewhere, so we can help other families choose dates that won’t conflict with their classmates’ celebrations.
  • If your child wants to participate in our b’nei mitzvah programming.
  • If you’d like to celebrate in any way within our community, even though the primary celebration will be held elsewhere.

“Triennial vs. Full Kriyah” - What do we chant on Shabbat morning from our Torah?

The Torah scroll is divided into 54 portions. Most weeks on Shabbat, we chant one of those portions from the scroll.

Some weeks, we read the entirety of that Torah portion; this is called doing a “full kriyah”. There are also many weeks when, instead of chanting the whole portion, we chant a third of that portion; this is called reading from the “triennial cycle”. Whether we read the first, second, or last third of the portion depends on the Jewish calendar year.

Even though we encourage every bar/bat mitzvah to chant as much Torah as they’re able, no bar/bat mitzvah (or family) is responsible for covering all the chanting that’s done on a given weekend. Any Torah chanting that the bar/bat mitzvah not assigned to the bar/bat mitzvah will be chanted by other family, friends, or TBA community members. This means that, just because a bar/bat mitzvah wants to chant a minimal amount of Torah it doesn’t mean that they have to choose to do a triennial reading. And a bar/bat mitzvah who wants to chant all the Torah being read that morning could do either a triennial or full reading.

When can we take pictures and video?

We ask that no pictures or video are taken on Shabbat at TBA. Recordings of the bar/bat mitzvah service may be arranged in advance through Cori Drasin.

Your family might want to use the run-through meeting as an opportunity to take photos and/or videos. Please be in touch with Amy Rabin before you book your photography and/or videographer to arrange for the appropriate spaces to be reserved that day.

Is there anything we need to pick up from the synagogue?

We give a set of gifts to each child for their bar/bat mitzvah. Please plan to pick up that gift no later than the Friday morning before the bar/bat mitzvah service.

My guests (and/or we) have young children. What can/should we do with them during services?

Kids are always, always, always welcome in services. It’s a joy to see and hear them in our sacred spaces. We’re also aware that there are some moments during Shabbat services when it can be difficult to ask young children to be as still and/or quiet as the congregation needs at the moment. This is particularly true of the two slots in our Shabbat morning services when the bar/bat mitzvah and the rabbi, respectively, offer their words of Torah. During those times, we keep the main sanctuary doors closed to help maintain the focus on those sacred words.

If in those moments or at any other time during morning services you feel that your child’s needs would best be served by a kid-oriented program, we invite you to bring your children (6 months and up) from 10 a.m. onward to the school building for Shabbat Yeladim. Details can be found in your Shabbat bulletin.

It’s also always okay to step into the hallway or onto the K-Yard playground for a break, as long as a responsible adult accompanies any kids. And please note that the folks at the security desk are happy to unlock and direct you to our nursing room if you need a private space to be with your child.

What about tefillin? Where do we get it?

Every Jew at the age of bar/bat mitzvah is welcome to take on the responsibility of wearing tefillin on weekday mornings. These sets of leather boxes that contain sacred texts can be purchased through several local Judaica companies and from many places on the internet. If you’d like guidance on purchasing tefillin and/or wearing it, please reach out to any of our clergy.

My kid goes to Pressman. How will they celebrate their bar/bat mitzvah at school?

Pressman loves to celebrate b’nei mitzvah! Rabbi Chaim Tureff, the school rabbi, will guide each student in taking on leadership roles at school services in honor of their reaching bar/bat mitzvah age. For more details on school celebrations, please reach out to Jill Linder, Judaic Studies Principal, at jlinder@pressmanacademy.org.

Is there a dress rehearsal?

Yes. The run-through is usually held during the week preceding the bar/bat mitzvah and is scheduled at a time convenient for all participants. The family, the officiating rabbi and the cantor will come together and go over the mechanics of the service. Cori Drasin will help you find a date and time for the run-through. If photography is desired at this time, we ask that you make arrangements with the Facilities Coordinator to make sure the extra time required to do this is available.

How do I let the community know that my child’s bar/bat mitzvah is coming up?

We’ll broadcast the news through our monthly newsletter, the Kol Ha’am. Plan to submit a digital photograph (preferably head and shoulders, simple background, minimum 300dpi) of your child to the Judy Alban, our B’nei Mitzvah Coordinator no later than eight weeks in advance of the bar/bat mitzvah. This picture will appear in the Kol Ha'am if we get it in a timely manner. Judy will typically remind you as the deadline approaches, but please mark your calendars.

Is there some kind of “mitzvah project” requirement?

Not exactly. But we do want to encourage our kids to do good, and to lead efforts to bring more goodness into the world. All students are encouraged to engage in a community service project, acknowledging that we have a responsibility to care for others. Both the officiating rabbi and the cantor are available to help you identify a personally meaningful project.

What happens after the bar/bat mitzvah service?

Jewish life goes on! We hope that this particular period of learning marks the beginning of a new, mature stage of your child’s Jewish education. There are many incredible opportunities through our Youth Learning and Engagement programs to link your child to our community as they grow. After graduation from our Jewish Learning Community or Pressman Day School, we encourage students to continue their education through other TBA programs, at Los Angeles Hebrew High School or another Jewish Day/High School. TBA’s Torah Club, USY and other teen programs provide opportunities for informal education and social activities that will continue to strengthen your child’s Jewish identity and commitment. For more information, reach out to Rabbi Dr. Yechiel Hoffman, Director of Youth Learning and Engagement.

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