Bar/Bar Mitzvah Guide:
START - Timeline

Planning Timeline: 
B'nai Mitzvah Celebrations

START: The following timeline applies to most prospective b'nai mitzvah students and families. 

Fall in Which Child is 10 Years Old / in 5th Grade Letter inviting families to provide information and date preferences should be received and returned.  

January/February of 5th Grade Dates and B'nai Mitzvah Handbook to be distributed. Confirm venues forkiddush/parties.

18-24 Months Prior to Bat/Bar Mitzvah Engage caterer/accommodator, entertainers if desired, photographer/videographer, and florist/decorator. Announce "Save the Date" to family, prospective guests.

May/June of 5th Grade Attend a 90-minute Orientation to the B'nai Mitzvah process.

Fall in Which Child is 11 Years Old / in 6th Grade Group Class instruction to begin. (One 40-60 minute class/week.) Study materials including pamphlets, blessings, and recordings will begin being distributed. Age-appropriate discussions of the historic nature of cantillation (chanting Hebrew Biblical Texts – Tanakh, including the prophetic passages – haftarah) will be offered. Reinforcement of class discussion may be reviewed from Cantor-provided written materials.

Torah Blessings and Haftarah Blessings to be taught. Introduction to the haftarah cantillation system (musical/literary symbols called the taamei hamikra, or tropes will begin to be introduced in class with companion recordings and flash-cards useful for home study). Students will also begin to expand their vocabulary and understanding of significant terms as it relates to Bar/Bat Mitzvah and religious rituals and the choreography of synagogue worship. (Note: Prior to this time, some students may have already been introduced to Torah cantillation. Other students may be introduced to the distinctive Torah cantillation system after the haftarah is prepared.)

Fall/Winter and Winter/Spring of 6th Grade B'nai Mitzvah Workshops and Programs to supplement group class instruction will be periodically scheduled. For students, who intend to chant a haftarah, the haftarahbooklets will be distributed in December 2013 or January 2014. As always, parents are encouraged to attend services with their youngsters as frequently as possible. Parents are also encouraged to attend classes and many of the programs. 

One Year Prior to Bat/Bar Mitzvah Reserve hotel rooms, if needed.

6-9 Months Prior to Bat/Bar Mitzvah Order invitations. Decide ">Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebrant. (See "Inviting Your Child's Classmates".) 

Winter/Spring of 6th Grade  Students with Winter and early Spring 2015 B'nai Mitzvah dates may begin periodically-scheduled private B'nai Mitzvah lessons in addition to the weekly group class. Students, who complete the group class requirements, may be exempted from attending additional group classes.

May/June of 6th Grade A note will be provided to outline expectations upon return to the regularly scheduled lessons following summer vacation. The note will also offer parents an opportunity to provide potential scheduling conflicts in order for Cantor Dress to schedule private lessons while being as accommodating as possible.

Fall of Bar/Bat Mitzvah Year Individual lessons begin for all 2015 students. Parents are encouraged to join child for lessons. Temple facilities issues need to be considered (see B'nai Mitzvah checklist.)

2-3 months prior to Bat/Bat Mitzvah Order kippot (yarmulkes and clips, if needed). Order party favors, if desired. Begin preparing seating charts. Order giveaways (T-shirts, sports bags).

Students begin to matriculate as they are called to the Torah as Bar or Bat Mitzvah.

Two or more months prior to Bat/Bar Mitzvah Student and Parent(s) should begin preparing the d'var Torah (B'nai Mitzvah Speech/Insights). A series of 4 meetings are held with Rabbi Fish. 

6-8 weeks prior to Bat/Bar Mitzvah Mail invitations.

One month or longer prior to Bar or Bat Mitzvah Rabbi Fish should review a first or subsequent draft of the student's D'var Torah.

Schedule a meeting with clergy for a discussion and to review honors' requests (download the Aliyot form).

Within one to two weeks of Bat or Bar Mitzvah Rehearsal with clergy and possibly photographers (still and/or video). Arrange rehearsal date in advance with the clergy.

Family members and/or friends with "speaking" honors may refer to Prayer Melodies for recorded assistance with the procedure and melody to chant Torah Blessings and to familiarize themselves with other melodies if so inclined.

Confirm all vendors.

Be sure to have Tallit and Tefillin. Rabbi Fish will instruct each child in proper use. Prepare seating chart for caterers' reference and your reference, if needed. Prepare extra copies of parent speeches that will be shared at venue.

Check family outfits from head to toe (remembering to schedule hair and nail appointments).

During Bat/Bar Mitzvah Service relax and thank God for your blessings. Schep Nachas (joy!).

Following Bar or Bat Mitzvah Follow through (if necessary) with respective mitzvah project(s) and prepare appropriate thank yous/donations, etc.

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