Cantor Lauren Bandman, Director
Celebrating becoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah at Congregation Beth Am is an important step towards becoming a knowledgeable Jew. Our B’nei Mitzvah preparation process includes a minimum of four years of study in our youth education (Hebrew and Judaica) program, as well as individual work with a Bar/Bat Mitzvah tutor and our clergy.
Approximately 24 months before your child’s 13th birthday, you will receive a Bar/Bat Mitzvah date packet. At that time you will be invited to fill out and return a form indicating your preferred dates for your child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah service. You will also have the opportunity to choose a partner (another student who will share the Bar/Bat Mitzvah with your child). If you prefer, we can select a partner for your child. After you have returned the form listing your preferences, you will receive a written confirmation of your child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah date and partner.
Students prepare to lead a congregational worship service, to chant from the Torah and Haftarah (Prophets) portions of the day, and to teach about the Torah or Prophets portion by writing a D’var Torah or D’var Haftarah. These years of study impart the knowledge, skills and confidence for a successful Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration. Most important, they help our students develop a strong connection to the Beth Am community and lay the foundation for a positive lifelong Jewish identity.
At Congregation Beth Am we believe that every young person deserves the opportunity to celebrate becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. We know that not all students learn the same way, they do not have the same natural talents or abilities, and they come from very different life experiences. We are committed to working with every student, and to making this event a truly positive and enriching experience for every family.
Students become eligible for Bar/Bat Mitzvah upon:
- Reaching their 13th birthday (in either the Jewish or secular calendar).
- Completion of four years of Hebrew in our Hebrew program.
- Continuous enrollment in one of our age appropriate Judaica programs for at least four consecutive years (this enrollment may start before Hebrew School, but must also be concurrent with the years of Hebrew School attendance). In addition, attendance in one of our Judaica programs is required for the entire school year in which a child becomes Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
Jewish Day School students may waive our Hebrew and Judaica requirement, although Judaica attendance helps students make friends in the Beth Am community. Morasha is still required.
For families new to the area, enrollment in another accredited Hebrew and Judaica program (in another synagogue) for the requisite years will be accepted toward Beth Am’s four year requirement.
All parents of 7th Grade students (including parents of day school students) participate in Morasha, our B’nei Mitzvah enrichment program, in which parents meet with Beth Am clergy for four sessions in the fall during Tuesday Night Program (5:30-7:45 pm on Tuesdays) and attend one Shabbat morning service with their children. These sessions explore the meaning and origins of Bar/Bat Mitzvah, the “how’s” and “why’s” of the Shabbat morning service, issues of Jewish adolescence, and ways to make the Bar/Bat Mitzvah experience even more meaningful.
Bar/Bat Mitzvah is a milestone – not a termination point. Students who become Bar/Bat Mitzvah at Congregation Beth Am are strongly encouraged to continue their Jewish education here through High School, including Confirmation in the 10th grade and our 11th and 12th grade program. Our young people continue to mature intellectually and emotionally throughout their teenage years. Their Jewish learning should continue during these critical years, as well, so that they can develop a solid, adult understanding of our faith and traditions.
Note: Bar/Bat Mitzvah is a status that is attained at the age of 13; it is not something that is done to a person. That is, a young person becomes Bar/Bat Mitzvah; s/he is not “Bar/Bat Mitzvahed.” The plural of Bar Mitzvah (used for two boys, or a boy and girl) is “B’nei Mitzvah.” The feminine plural (used for two girls) is “B’not Mitzvah.”
Download the B'nei Mitzvah Handbook.