The Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration is a time of pride not only for you, but also for everyone involved in your child's Jewish upbringing. This includes the teachers in our Religious School, tutors, the Rabbi, Cantor, and the entire Congregation Shir Shalom community. We celebrate together, in the synagogue, as our children reach this important milestone: becoming "adult" members of the Jewish Community, the age of Jewish responsibility. Because it is a celebration for the entire community, we will be working together as partners, making the most of every aspect of this wonderful period in your life.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Shir Shalom office (845-708-9181 or firstname.lastname@example.org) and you'll be put in touch with someone who can help. We're here for you!
Our basic philosophy is that your child's Bar/Bat Mitzvah experience and training must be a family affair. Parents participate and share in the learning process with the child. Positive reinforcement and the sense of importance created by parental involvement enhance both the family relationship and the religious experience and ensure a true cause for celebration.
What is Bar/Bat Mitzvah?
In Judaism, a child becomes a Bar/Bat Mitzvah upon reaching the age of 13. This means that the child is now considered an adult member of the Jewish community, assuming the responsibilities and privileges of being an adult Jew. For example, he or she is old enough to be counted as part of a minyan, be called to the Torah, or lead all parts of the service. He or she is obligated to accept the mitzvot - the commandments of Judaism. Jewish law requires B’nai Mitzvah to pray, fast on Yom Kippur, and observe Kashrut (the Jewish dietary laws). Interestingly, no particular ritual is required to mark the event. A Jew becomes a Bar or Bat Mitzvah simply by reaching the appropriate age. This is why the correct phrase is "become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah" rather than being "Bar or Bat Mitzvahed."
What does becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah look like at Shir Shalom?
We mark the occasion at a Shabbat morning service by extending to the child the honor of an aliyah - being called to the Torah. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah may read from the Torah and usually chants the Haftorah (an additional reading from the Prophets, connected with the Torah portion). Additionally, he or she will give a D'var Torah - a lecture through which the child shares with the congregation some lessons gleaned from the Torah reading. The youngster may lead parts of the service.
Because it is such a joyous occasion, this service has additional celebratory features. The synagogue extends additional honors to the family and friends of the child, including some of the aliyot, readings, and ark openings. The Rabbi addresses the child directly after his sermon. A representative of the synagogue presents gifts on behalf of the arms of the synagogue. The entire Congregation Shir Shalom community has the opportunity to share in your joy. However, none of these are requirements for becoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah - that happens simply when the child comes of age. Our synagogue chooses to extend these honors to our Bar/Bat Mitzvah families. It is part of what makes us a community.
As is often the case in Judaism, we enjoy marking such events with a se'udah (festive meal), and celebration with singing and dancing - the Bar/Bat Mitzvah party.
Your big day requires planning and coordination between you and your Shir Shalom family. There's a structured process that begins with a kick-off session approximately three years in advance of your date. At that meeting, the Rabbi will fill you in on what to expect.
Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation really begins at home, instilling the importance of synagogue and Judaism. The best way for a family to enjoy and appreciate all of the facets of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah is to be actively engaged in synagogue life. No policy or procedure that Congregation Shir Shalom can institute can prepare you for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah as well as regular synagogue participation.