Becoming a bar mitzvah (for a boy) or a bat mitzvah (for a girl) is a coming of age ceremony, but it is about more than simply being able to say, “Today I am an adult!” Through one-on-one study with a volunteer teacher, regular meetings with the rabbi and community service projects, each student is encouraged and supported in their spiritual, intellectual and moral growth.
We do not believe in prescribed gender-based roles in ritual life. Both girls and boys are treated equally in our programme.
We celebrate and affirm each child’s uniqueness. Furthermore, it is our sincere desire to welcome all children. Please feel free to share any special needs that your child has with Rabbi Holtz so that we may best include them.
Please find below an overview of our programme and a check list for your family.
ACTIVITY TIME TABLE & CHECKLIST
- Scheduling date for the ceremony 18 months – 3 years prior
- Orientation Meetings 14-24 months prior
- Family meeting with Rabbi Holtz 14 months prior
- Begin individual studies with a teacher 1 year prior
- Student chooses and begins community service project 1 year prior
- Begin weekly sessions with Rabbi Holtz 6 months prior
- Student completes Mitzvah project 2 months
- Receive and Return Forms A and B from Janet Burlem 6 weeks prior
- Family rehearsal with Rabbi 2 weeks
The date for the bar or bat mitzvah ceremony is set with Rabbi Holtz and the family at least at least a year and a half and up 3 years before the ceremony is to be held. The ceremony is typically scheduled on or shortly after the thirteenth birthday.
These meetings will mark the formal beginning to b’nei mitzvah (plural of bat and bar mitzvah) preparations. Students and their families will learn about the background and meaning of becoming b’nei mitzvah, the preparation process, as well as various logistical matters.
Meeting with Rabbi Holtz
This meeting has multiple aims. The first is informal – for the families and the rabbi to get to know one another better. Additionally, the student and the family can go over the b’nei mitzvah programme and discuss expectations of the student, the family and the synagogue. The student, the family and the rabbi will decide together the section of the Torah portion to be read at the ceremony. Finally, the student, the parents and the rabbi will sign a brit, a covenant, agreeing to the programme.
Begin Individual Studies with a Teacher
Students will learn the Torah portion, including preparing a translation, the Haftarah, various prayers, and more with their teacher.
By becoming a bar or bat mitzvah, one assumes more responsibility, both personal responsibility as well as responsibility in caring for the greater community. Each student, in consultation with their families as well as either Rabbi Holtz or the Head Teacher of the Cheder should choose a mitzvah project that consists of at least five hours of volunteer work.
Weekly Sessions with Rabbi Holtz
Students will meet once a week for thirty minutes with Rabbi Holtz. During this time, the student and the rabbi will discuss the meaning of becoming a bat or bar mitzvah, the lessons found in the Torah portion and Haftarah, the mitzvah project, and other subjects of interest to the student. Each student will be asked to regularly write brief pieces on these subjects that will then be turned into a d’var Torah (literally, “a word of Torah,” or sermon). These meetings should usually take place in person at the synagogue.
Two to three weeks prior to the ceremony, the student and his/her family need to attend a rehearsal with Rabbi Holtz at the synagogue.
All students must be enrolled in cheder and attend regularly. Ideally, children begin in the Gan at as young an age as possible
Each student is expected to attend Shabbat services at least twice a month in the year leading up to their bat or bar mitzvah.
We ask that everyone attending the Shabbat morning service arrive no later than 10:20am so that we may begin by 10:30am.
Everyone who has an honour or mitzah at the service is asked to arrive at the synagogue by 9:50am.
Honours and Mitzvot
There are various mitzvot in the service, such as reciting blessings, and many honours, such as opening the ark, that may be given to family and friends of the bar or bat mitzvah. While certain things are reserved exclusively for Jews, some honours may be given to non-Jewish family.
We love having children at our synagogue and want to be welcoming to all families. If many children are expected, we can organise toys and juice downstairs upon request.
Every family and each child is unique. To some extent and by design, the experience of preparing to become a bar or bat mitzvah will vary from individual to individual. If you believe that you have special circumstances that we should be aware of, please discuss them with Rabbi Holtz.