A Guide for the Perplexed


(with apologies to Maimonides!)

At Temple Beth-El, Bar/Bat Mitzvah is a Friday evening and Saturday morning celebration.  The Bar/Bat Mitzvah will lead the Saturday morning service and will also assist in leading the Friday evening service, which is less formal than the Saturday morning service.  They will have an opportunity to lead all the prayers that they know and that occur in the Friday evening service.  This will help to calm any nerves they may be feeling, and is a lovely way to lead up to the Shabbat morning service.

12 Months Prior:

v Together with the Rabbi, the President of Temple Beth-El, and a representative of the Sisterhood, set the date of your child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah.

v It is expected that you and your child attend as many Erev Shabbat (Friday evening) and/or Shabbat morning services as possible from now on. This will help your child by familiarizing you and your child with what takes place at a Shabbat service, and it will also begin to alleviate fears and apprehensions – yours and your child’s!

v  You must select a Bar/Bat Mitzvah tutor.   You may choose from the following list or another tutor whom the Rabbi has approved:

Marzy Bauer – 574 288 6428 or marzytbauer@gmail.com

Ossie Meisel – 708 347 7895 or ossie102@yahoo.com

Rabbi Shoshana Feferman – 258 4569 or rfefe@comcast.net

Please inform the Rabbi whom you have chosen to tutor your child.

v  Notify your out-of-town guests of your date.  You may need to make hotel reservations for them.  It’s usually wise to avoid ND football weekends if your guests will need hotel accommodations.

v  Start thinking about a mitzvah project (see end of this document for more information about this) so that your child can begin working on this over the summer preceding his/her Bar/Bat Mitzvah.

v Engage a photographer if you choose to use one.

Video/Audio tapes may be made during the service only if the camera is stationary and situated in the choir loft.

Still photography is also allowed only from the choir loft.

The Rabbi must be present if the Torah is to be removed from the ark.

Picture taking must conclude 30 minutes prior to the service.

Cell-phone cameras and/or recording devices may not be used during the service.

9 Months Prior:

v Begin working on your invitation list.

v Select and order your invitations and thank you notes.

Simple and inexpensive is best!

v In consultation with the Rabbi and your child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah tutor, work with your child to select the Torah verses he/she will read from the Torah at his/her Bar/Bat Mitzvah service.  Typically, 9 – 15 verses are read, but this may vary, depending on individual circumstances.  The verses must be approved by the rabbi before tutoring in them begins.

6 Months Prior:

v Finalize your invitation list.

v You will need a tallit (and if you choose to, a kippah) for your child, plus any kippot you are ordering for your guests.  Please consider doing this through the Temple Beth-El gift shop.

4 Months Prior:

v  Schedule two D’var Torah (words of Torah/speech) preparation meetings and two rehearsal times with the Rabbi.

In general, the two meetings will be between just the Bar/Bat Mitzvah student and the Rabbi. 

For the two rehearsals, at least one parent, but preferably two, should attend.  Grandparents are welcome to attend also, if the family would like them to.

v  For the Oneg Shabbat, contact Sisterhood’s B’nei Mitzvah Chair to let her know how many guests they are preparing for, for the Friday night Oneg Shabbat, and for the Saturday morning Kiddush.  This is an initial estimate only.  The final estimate is to be provided 2 weeks prior to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah.

2 Months Prior:

v  First meeting with Rabbi to begin preparing D’var Torah.  Your child should come to this meeting with one or two interesting ideas for his/her D’var Torah, based on the Torah verses which you and they have chosen (see 9 months prior)

v Select honorees

              Aliyot (people being called to the Torah) – The Bar/Bat Mitzvah will read approximately 3 -5 Torah verses for each aliyah – let Rabbi know how many aliyot you will be having (4 maximum including the Bar/Bat Mitzvah).

                                    Torah Service ark openers and attendants (2 people for this honor)  

6 to 8 Weeks Prior:

v  Mail invitations.  

v  Contact friends and family and other religious school students’ families for contributing baked goods.  These should be delivered to Temple no later than the Friday morning of your event (Estimate 5 goodies per person).

v  Email temple a digital photo of your child to temple@tbe-sb.org  (Month of, or closest relevant Bulletin, an announcement is printed in bulletin)     (Week of B’nei Mitzvah, an announcement appears in the e-bulletin)

4 Weeks Prior:

v  Contact fellow congregants to act as greeters at your Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Ideally, this group should include people from the next Bar/Bat Mitzvah family.  If you’d like help regarding who to contact for this job, please consult Marzy Bauer on 288 6428.

3 Weeks Prior:

v  Provide Rabbi with names of all honorees, including Hebrew names of those being called to the Torah.  These should be in the form of (Hebrew name) son/daughter of (Hebrew name of father) and (Hebrew name of mother).  Please note that only people who are Jewish have Hebrew names.

Day of Bar/Bat Mitzvah:

v  Supply 2 Challot (plural of challah)

v  Small flower arrangement for candle table 

v  Optional, table center-pieces

v  Optional, greeter boutonniere 

v  Optional, Bimah decoration/flowers

v  16 oz cups for ice-cream floats (optional

Sharing Your Simcha:

v Mazon:  A Jewish Response to Hunger, is an organization that collects funds to help feed the hungry.  We urge you to help in this vital work.  We recommend that you contribute a portion of the cost of your child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah to Mazon.

v  In addition, choose a charity that your child will help support by donating a portion of the money they receive as Bar/Bat Mitzvah gifts to it.  This should ideally be a charity with which you and/or your child have some affinity/connection, but this is not necessary. 

Mitzvah Project

v Your child will be expected to complete a Mitzvah project, an activity that consists of performing a mitzvah or mitzvot (plural of mitzvah) for those less fortunate than they are.  Ideally, the child should do more than simply ask his/her guests to bring items to the Temple that he/she will then donate.  It should involve the child in some sort of meaningful activity.

Additional Notes:

v  Please remember that the above suggestions are only guidelines, and that your own personal timetable is up to you.  Please do, however, follow the suggestions made for anything that involves the Rabbi and/or the Sisterhood.

v  We know you have a lot to do concerning your upcoming simcha, but please enjoy this very special time in your child’s life and in the life of your family.  Feel free to call the Rabbi if there is any way in which she can be of help to you.  Mazel Tov in advance!

Financial Considerations:  

The Erev Shabbat and Shabbat morning services, including the Rabbi’s participation and the Rabbi’s preparation of your child (speech and rehearsals) are covered by your family’s Temple dues.  The social aspects, however, of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah, are not included in your dues.

v  Temple has a charge of $450 for the labor and linen costs connected with a Bar/Bat Mitzvah weekend, plus any added costs for special items.  There may be additional fees for guests numbering more than 150. Temple asks for a deposit prior to your event.   

v  Temple and Sisterhood will send an itemized billing after your event reflecting any deposit monies and the total amount due.  

v  Recap of standard Temple Fees and expected billed expenses 

v  $450.00   Temple charge for labor and linens for up to 150 people 

v  $300.00   Sisterhood catering contribution 

v  $200.00   Estimated cost of groceries (fruit, crackers, cheese, drinks, etc.) 

v  $950.00   (approximate; total bill will be based on actual purchases)