Bar/Bat Mitzvah Guide:
EIGHT - The Bar/Bat Mitzvah Day

1. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony takes place during a religious service in a house of prayer. You will want to contribute to the depth and beauty of this occasion, and avoid or prevent anything which could disturb the sacred mood for your guests as well as for the other worshippers who will be present. Remember that on Shabbat morning, other members of the congregation will be given honors, and there may be other special events observed, such as a baby-naming or an aufruf (pre-wedding honor). Bar/Bat Mitzvah is one of many life-cycle events that are celebrated within a worship service.

2. Services on Saturday morning begin promptly at 9:00 a.m. and last approximately three hours. Shabbatafternoon services begin at hours that vary with the time of sundown and generally last one hour and 25 minutes. Morning services on Rosh Hodesh or a Monday or Thursday holiday generally begin at 10:00 a.m. and do not exceed two hours. Friday evening services may begin at 6:15 p.m. or as late as 8:00 p.m. Services do not excede 1-1/2 hours. Please encourage your guests to arrive at the Synagogue a few minutes before the start of services. It is imperative that those individuals having honors arrive well before their appointed honor.

3. Please remind your guests, Jewish and Gentile, that it is appropriate to wear a kippah (skull cap) at all times when one is in the Synagogue building (including at a Saturday night affair). The sanctity of the Synagogue is a reality even after the formal religious services have ended.

Adult Jewish males must wear a tallit at a morning service; adult Jewish women may wear a tallit if they so desire. Any woman who ascends the bima must wear a head covering. Women who read Torah or serve assh'lihat tzibbur (prayer leader) must wear a tallit. For morning services other than Shabbat and Yom Tov, please consult our staff regarding the rules of putting on tefillin in our congregation.

4. Following the aliyah of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah, the Rabbi or Cantor will say a special Mi Shebeirakh blessing on behalf of the child. This is followed by the singing of Siman Tov u'Mazal Tov by the entire congregation.

5. It is a custom at Temple Israel for the congregation to toss candy at the Bar/Bat Mitzvah at the conclusion of the aliyah blessings, as a way of wishing sweetness and blessing throughout life. At the appropriate time, soft candies, provided by the congregation, will be distributed for this purpose. After the candy is thrown, younger children will be invited to come forward to collect it while the congregation sings to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah.

6. Toward the conclusion of the service, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah will receive a number of gifts from the Synagogue, its Arms, and Youth Community.

7. Some families have chosen to print a small booklet explaining the meaning of Bar/Bat Mitzvah and the significance of the various parts of the service. If you are interested, the Cantor can assist you in the selection of materials.

8. Members of the Ritual and Ushering Committees serve as ushers at all religious services. We also require that your family assign two (2) adults to serve as ushers for the teenage guests of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah.Their task will be to monitor behavior and insure decorum & respect.

9. When inviting guests who have infants or small children, you should tactfully inform them about the length of the service and ask them to consider whether their youngsters can sit quietly through the service. Parents should accompany their children if they need to leave and re-enter the Sanctuary.

It is especially important to remind your child's teenage friends that this is an important ceremony for your child and that you know they will behave with consideration for their friend, for the other congregants, and in reverence for the Sanctuary. Speaking to them directly, you will be communicating the importance of this service to your family and they will take your request seriously.

10. We encourage all Shabbat morning Bar/Bat Mitzvah families to sponsor a Kiddush for the entire congregation. Moreover, the sanctity of the event is perpetuated when the family reception, too, takes place in the Synagogue.

Temple Israel has excellent facilities for holding receptions, luncheon and dinners. Reservations for the use of our facilities are to be made with our Executive Director. The Executive Director is available to advise and to accommodate your family and to make the event an enjoyable one to be remembered by all participants.

11. A blessing which is associated with the Bar/Bat Mitzvah following his/her aliyah to the Torah beautifully expresses the religious significance of this day.

"He/she has come with reverence for God, the Torah, and the Sabbath to thank God for all the good which has been his/hers since the time of his/her birth." 

We want all our b'nai mitzvah celebrations to reflect the richness of these words. We therefore strongly urge you to keep in mind the religious character of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration and to make every effort to conform to Jewish law and tradition. The luncheon or dinner associated with the Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration is considered in our tradition to be a Seudah Shel Mitzvah, a religious function. It is essential, therefore that it be kosher.

A list of kosher caterers and accommodators currently approved at Temple Israel is available in the Temple Office. Please inform the office of the name of the caterer as soon as arrangements are concluded. The Kiddush and reciting of the Ha-Motzi blessing should precede the meal with Birkat Ha-Mazon following the meal.

12. All deliveries to the Synagogue, such as food, wine, liquor, flowers, and any other supplies must be made by 12:00 noon on Friday. Nothing may be removed from the Synagogue until after Shabbat is over. A delivery schedule for a simha on any day other than Shabbat must be arranged with the Executive Director.

13. If you would like to arrange for photographs during the week prior to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah and would like the participation of the Cantor, please contact him a few weeks in advance to arrange a mutually convenient time. In addition, please notify the Executive Director to insure the availability of the Sanctuary. Photography sessions are most commonly combined with the rehearsal. The Cantor's presence will be necessary if a Torah is to be removed from the ark.

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