B’nai Mitzvah


Mazel Tov on beginning this exciting moment of celebration! Becoming a bar or bat mitzvah is a significant milestone in the life of the student and his or her entire family. Preparation begins approximately one year before service date. The program varies from student to student and is intended to help the young person experience the richness and joy of Jewish learning in anticipation of leading the Shabbat service and taking his or her place of responsibility as a Jewish adult. It should be challenging and rewarding, filled with what will become positive memories of the process and result.

No two students are the same, and the only person to whom each student is to be compared is that student’s best self.

The Process of Becoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah

Choosing a Date – The family will work with the rabbi to choose a date approximately one year before the service. At Temple Israel, the bar or bat mitzvah celebration includes a Friday night service and a Saturday morning service. Please note that Temple Israel is housed at Beit Ha’am (House of the People), a cooperative effort with Shaaray Torah Synagogue and the Canton Jewish Federation. Setups, room usage and calendar needs are all coordinated through this collaboration.

Tutoring – The student will meet with the rabbi to begin a course of study that includes all elements of the service. The course of study will depend on the schedule and needs of each student. As the date approaches, there will be several in-person practices on the bimah.

If the student and family would prefer, arrangements can be made to have an additional tutor work with the student throughout the process

Liturgy – The template for the Saturday morning service is available by clicking here. This will be customized with the celebrant and family. The family will arrange for printing of the booklets in advance of the service. The Friday night service uses the regular Mishkan T’filah prayerbook.

Torah Verses – The rabbi and student will select an appropriate section of Torah verses after studying the Torah portion. It is up to the family whether the student reads or chants the verses.

Haftarah Verses – It is the family’s choice to include a Haftarah reading.

D’var Torah – The student will prepare a D’var Torah (lesson on the Torah portion) to share during the service. This will be the student’s opportunity to share what he or she has learned and what the process has meant.

Mitzvah Project – The student will select a mitzvah project in consultation with the rabbi. The project should reflect the student’s values and identity and adds a hands-on element to the student’s b’nai mitzvah preparation. 

Friday Night

5:30 p.m. Oneg Shabbat – The family is expected to sponsor the Oneg Shabbat (refreshments before the service). Arrangements can be made through the Temple office. The entire congregation and community is welcome to attend any Friday night Oneg Shabbat and service at Temple Israel.

6:15 p.m. Kabbalat Shabbat Service – The student and his or her parents will sit on the bimah. The family will lead the blessings for the candles and the wine, and the student will help to lead the liturgy. The family may request a specific soloist for the service, in consultation with the rabbi. This service will be recorded and livestreamed via Temple Israel’s website and YouTube. The family may choose to provide flowers for the bimah for Friday and Saturday.

Dinner – Some families choose to have a private dinner at Beit Ha’am after the service. This is entirely optional.

Saturday Morning

10:30 a.m. Shabbat Morning Service – While the service is open to every member of the community, generally it is only attended by those that the family invites. The service will be recorded. The livestream can be private or public depending on the family’s choice.

Printed Service – The family will arrange to have the service booklet printed and ready for the weekend.

Passing the Torah – It is customary to have the Torah passed from one generation to the next during the service. It is the family’s choice whom to include in that procession.

Aliyot – The Torah reading can be divided into as many as seven aliyot to honor family and friends. The student will have the final aliyah.

Other Honors – If the family would like to share honors with family members (in addition to the aliyot), there are opportunities to do so during the service.

Parent Remarks – The parent/s is/are expected to make some remarks to the student during the service.

Kiddush/Lunch – If the family would like to have a kiddush luncheon at Beit Ha’am after the service, that can be arranged. It is customary to invite everyone who is at the service, including those that were not on the original invitation list.

Additional Items to Consider

Stark Jewish News – The SJN will print a photo and biography of the B’nai Mitzvah celebrant. A photo can be shared with the editor at kphillippi@jewishcanton.org.

Invitations – The invitations should be sent at least six weeks in advance. Please invite all of the student’s Chadash classmates and teachers.

Kippot – These are optional at Temple Israel services. If the family would like, you may order custom kippot for the celebration. (Check out www.skullcap.com for some ideas).

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