The centerpiece of the B’nai Mitzvah celebration is, being called to the Torah which, of course, most commonly occurs as part of the participation of the B’nai Mitzvah and their family and friends in the synagogue service. For most families, the Shabbat morning service is the time that this will take place. However, be aware that there are additional opportunities to worship publicly as well. These include Kabbalat Shabbat, Shabbat Mincha, Festivals, and weekday Shacharit services when the Torah is read. The rabbi will be happy to discuss these opportunities with parents.
Click links to view.
- Aliyah Sheet, listing the aliyot, the parts of the Shabbat morning service, and the “honors”, including descriptions and instructions.
- Kol Ya’akov/Weekly E-mail B’nai Mitzvah Bio Guide
- Blessings to be recited by those who are honored with an aliyah to the Torah. You might find it helpful to send a link to those people you are honoring in advance to help them prepare for this occasion.
- The Shehecheyanu prayer, which you and your family will also be invited to say during the ceremony.
- Beth Jacob Guide to Services
An Inclusive Community
Beth Jacob is an inclusive community and our values are reflected in the B’nai Mitzvah ceremony as well as all other occasions. We welcome all members and visitors, including traditional and non-traditional families, same-sex parents, single parents, students, and seniors. There are also many ways to include non-Jewish family members in the B’nai Mitzvah service. Please feel free to talk with Rabbi Rubin about any questions you may have about the B’nai Mitzvah participation of your family.
We are an Egalitarian Congregation
As members of an egalitarian congregation, we each have the right to assume religious leadership and take upon ourselves certain responsibilities when we access those rights. In our shul, one responsibility we assume includes the wearing of a tallit and kippah when we read from the Torah, lead services, or are given an honor on the Bimah. We understand that for some, the wearing of a tallit is not yet a comfortable act, and we recognize that parents of a child becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah may want to have an aliyah to celebrate this milestone in the life of their child. Given both of these realities, a parent who is not comfortable wearing a tallit and whose child is becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah may have an aliyah. After consulting with the Rabbi, this parent (if otherwise permitted to be called to the Torah) can be called for an aliyah if accompanied by another person who is also called to the Torah and who is wearing a tallit. This situation is the only exception that we will make so that this moment may be one of family celebration.
Family and Friends’ Participation
The rabbi will also discuss the various ways that are available to both the B’nai Mitzvah and their family and friends to participate in the service. Families celebrating a simcha on Shabbat morning have five aliyot available to them to honor their family and friends, and can fill in other honors such as carrying the Torah, opening the Ark, and other appropriate activities. One of our gabbaim will contact you before the B’nai Mitzvah service to help you complete your planning.
Inviting Your Child’s Teachers
We encourage you to invite your children’s teachers to the B’nai Mitzvah, from Shabbat Enrichment, Jewish Day School or secular school. In the past, families have invited music teachers, scout leaders, and coaches among others. The rabbi invites all teachers to stand and receive a special blessing during the service.
Your Shabbat, but not JUST Yours
Our focus on the Shabbat of your child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah is Shabbat and community. Within that context, the congregation celebrates with you and your child as they become an adult member of the community. Many out-of-town guests or visitors to the shul on a Bar/Bat Mitzvah Shabbat remark just how much they love the feel of the Shabbat service. There are many reasons for that, but in part it is because we work hard as a community to not make this “your Shabbat” alone. In addition to your family and friends, the shul will be filled with members of the congregation who daven on a regular basis each and every Shabbat. Together, the invited guests and family, together with the congregational community, join in celebration. As a result, Beth Jacob does not allow for parent speeches during Shabbat morning services. As parents, we are filled with pride as our children take this next step in their Jewish journey. There are many things we need to say to our children at this moment in their lives. Those things are not for 200 people to hear, but rather for your child to hear directly from you at a time when you can show all appropriate emotion, without concern for how others might react. If you desire to publicly share with your child your thoughts, a good time to do so is at a Friday night Shabbat dinner or during the celebration after the Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
Practical Matters for the Service:
Service Sheet and Guide to the Service
The synagogue provides all necessary materials for the B’nai Mitzvah and does not encourage special materials written by the family.
Seating Capacity of the Sanctuary
Beth Jacob’s sanctuary seats 300. If you think your guests (including congregants) may exceed that number, speak to Alex Locke, Executive Director, about how to increase the seating capacity.