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Bar and Bat Mitzvah

Mazel Tov on entering the exciting world of B’nai Mitzvah! This process involves your Bar (son)/Bat (daughter) Mitzvah, your family and friends, and the entire Har Shalom community. Our ultimate goal for each Bar/Bat Mitzvah is to create a meaningful, spiritual, inclusive, and communal celebration.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah (plural b'nai mitzvot) marks a milestone of Jewish development and an acknowledgment that our children stand at the threshold of adulthood. From the age of 13 (for boys) and 12 (for girls), young people are seen as adults in Jewish law. They are counted in the minyan for prayer services, help lead services when asked, are often called to the Torah, and are hopefully able to take on greater responsibility with their Jewish community.

While preparing for this joyous time can feel daunting and even overwhelming, rest assured that Har Shalom has plenty of resources to assist you in this special Jewish life cycle event. For help in planning your event at Har Shalom, please contact B'nai Mitzvah Coordinator, Gretchen Kastetter.

Connection, Study, Mitzvot

Connection

No child or parent, whether Jewish or not, should feel like a stranger on our bimah. However, building spiritual connection within a community takes time. The single most effective way to establish spiritual ties and knowledge of the service is for families to participate in the prayer life of Har Shalom by attending Sunday morning Shira and Tefilah, Shabbat services and other B’nai Mitzvah services.

Study

Becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah connotes the beginning of adult lifelong learning. It is a stepping stone along the path of Jewish learning and an acknowledgment of the ongoing value of Torah study in a person’s life. As our youth face the challenges of the modern world, we can support them by providing them with a spiritual and ethical connection to a dynamic and authentic tradition.

To that end, the two years of Hebrew and religious education immediately preceding becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah must be at Har Shalom. Rabbinic evaluation will address this issue in exceptional cases. Many students who have been called to the Torah as a Bar/Bat Mitzvah continue to lead and learn as participants in our Madrichim program.

In the months leading up to celebrating becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, each child will work with a tutor from our community, who will help them prepare the Torah reading and the prayers. The Rabbi will meet with the student on a weekly basis beginning 2 months before the ceremony, in order to study the Torah portion together, and to assist the student in writing the commentary.

Schedule and ensure your child attends study sessions with the Rabbi and tutoring sessions with the tutor. Discuss their D’var Torah with them as they develop their ideas. Listen as much as possible as they practice their prayers and parashah: even if you do not know Hebrew, your support and interest in their study is vital to their success.

Mitzvot

Becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah means that we become our own moral agent, responsible for our good deeds and mistakes. As part of the preparation, each student undertakes a social action project, a commitment of time and talent that results in the betterment of our community and our world. This is usually done during the 7th grade year, with the hope that performing acts of kindness and taking on responsibility for the betterment of our society will continue long after the student becomes a Bar or Bat Mitzvah.

Wed, May 29 2024 21 Iyyar 5784