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B'nai Mitzvah
 
 

BECOMING A BAR/BAT MITZVAH

At the JCOH our young people become Bar/Bat Mitzvah when they reach their 13th birthday. There is a required 4-year Hebrew School commitment or an equivalent alternative. For students entering after the 4th grade, there is the possibility of parallel tutoring to make up the work or setting a later date for the service. One can always celebrate becoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah at an older age.
 
Students are taught to chant a Torah and Haftarah portion and present their own d’var Torah, Torah teaching.
 
All services at which someone celebrates becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah are congregational services and anyone is welcome to attend and worship with us. Our worshipful community embraces our B'nai Mitzvah warmly and caringly.
 

B'nai Mitzvah Lunch & Learn:
All B'nai Mitzvah students and their parents are required to participate in our Lunch & Learn program during the year of their becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah. This series is taught by Rabbi Zimmerman and Cantor Stein.

 


ATTENDING A BAR/BAT MITZVAH SERVICE
 
We welcome all worshippers and visitors to our services.  Please participate at a level in which you are comfortable.  We encourage as much singing as possible. For those unfamiliar with our service, please note the following:
 
  • Stand and sit along with others in the congregation
  • Italic print is for the entire congregation to read
  • The wearing of a kippah (skull cap) or tallit (prayer shawl) is encouraged but optional for both men and women.  Only Jewish adults above the age of 13 wear a tallit. The tallit is worn by any worshipper at the morning service and by those leading the service or reciting an Aliyah (Torah blessing) at an afternoon or evening service.
  • When the Torah is carried around the sanctuary, the custom is that Jews reach out with their tallit, Prayerbook or hand to touch the Torah respectfully and then kiss the tallit, etc.  This is a symbol of our acceptance of the Torah at Mount Sinai and our love for the Torah.
An Aliyah (meaning ascent) is the reciting of Torah blessings by ascending the bima (the raised area from which we lead the service) and chanting or saying the appropriate prayers.  This honor is only given to Jews above the age of 13 since the words of the prayer refer to Jewish identity particularity.  (Other family members or friends may receive a different honor.)  The only exception is a non-Jewish parent who has assisted in raising his or her child in the Jewish tradition.   

Aliyot are done alone or with another person.  If two people are doing it they can chant together or each read one of the two blessings.  It is recommended that one prepares in advance so not to stumble over the words.  This demonstrates respect to both the Torah and the congregation. One can ask help from the Bar/Bat Mitzvah student who knows the prayer well.  
 
PLEASE NOTE: All attendees should dress accordingly; you are at a religious service and not at a party.  If a person is receiving an aliyah or another honor, out of respect for the Torah, the service and the entire congregation, it is appropriate to dress modestly and befitting a sacred occasion.  Torn, dirty or revealing clothing are inappropriate.  Shoulders should be covered and necklines should not be low cut.
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