B’nai Mitzvah

Preparing for your Bar/Bat Mitzvah

Congregation B’nai Tikvah is delighted to celebrate this life cycle event with you and your family. We have prepared a number of resources to help you with this journey.

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Bar/Bat Mitzvah Checklist

Getting Started
  • Decide with your bar/bat mitzvah child how you want to celebrate this day, and what your budget will allow. Decide if you want a small kiddush or kiddush luncheon.
  • Start talking to people you know who have already planned a bar or bat mitzvah for ideas and tips.
  • Create a guest list. It will most likely change (as in grow!) before you actually send out the invitations but it is helpful to have an idea of how many people you plan to invite and help you to decide which venue best fits your needs.
    • How many are out of town? Will they be staying with you or will they need hotel rooms?
    • Do you want to send out paper invitations or electronic ones?
  • Decide if you are going to plan this event on your own or if you want to use a party planner.

Bar/Bar Mitzvah Service FAQs

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  • Approximately 8 months before the ceremony date, the rabbi will contact your family to set up a meeting with both parent(s) and child.  At that meeting you can expect to receive:

    • An overview of the service
    • An explanation of the parts students are responsible for leading
    • An opportunity to go over any questions that any family member may have.
    • A discussion regarding setting up regular tutoring meeting times.
  • Tutoring takes place once a week for half an hour per session at a mutually convenient time.
    During the course of their tutoring, your child will be studying with both the rabbi and the cantor.
    Typically it is the clergy’s schedule that dictates with whom you study with first or second.   Since both the rabbi and cantor can teach the chanting of Torah and Haftarah, students will have the choice as to which part they want to learn first. About 6 weeks before your child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah, they will meet with the rabbi to write their D’var Torah (personal interpretation of an aspect of their Torah portion they find meaningful).

  • All students chant the Haftarah portion. They have a choice between reading or chanting their Torah portion. If they chant, their tutoring will include the learning of the cantillation signs that signal the melody used to chant each word.

  • Of course they do! Exposure to cantillation plus using a recording made by the rabbi or cantor of your specific portion will give you more tools to use for your learning.

  • Not necessarily. While being musical makes chanting Torah easier, it’s not a requirement. There are beautiful Torah chanters who aren’t necessarily the best singers ever. All it takes is an interest in chanting and willingness to try.

  • The service starts at 10:00 am and typically concludes between 11:40-11:50 am. Every service is unique so we can’t give an exact ending time.

  • Absolutely. There are a range of ways that family and friends can participate in the service.  There are speaking roles – like English readings or chanting the Hebrew blessings for one of the Torah aliyot – and non-speaking ones like opening/closing the ark doors or helping to dress the Torah scroll after the reading.
    At your first meeting with the rabbi, you receive a packet which includes a list of these honors, copies of the readings available, and an explanation of which parts are set aside for Jewish family members, and which parts are open to anyone.

  • Please know that you are not in this alone!  This can all seem very overwhelming at the beginning, but just as with your child’s studies, things really do fall into place. The rabbi and the cantor are here throughout your family’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah journey for additional conversations and to answer any further questions as they come up. You can also contact the temple office to discuss any other logistical questions you may have. Parents who have already been through this process can be another great resource.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Celebration FAQs

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