The meaning of bar/bat mitzvah is son/daughter of mitzvah, one who is responsible for the performance of mitzvot. It is a mitzvah to be called to the reading of the Torah and takes place for the first time when a child reaches the age of thirteen. It is usually celebrated at a Shabbat morning service. In our congregation a child is expected to have fulfilled four years of Hebrew study or its equivalent as a prerequisite to celebrating a bar/bat mitzvah.
Setting The Date
Candidates for bar/bat mitzvah will be contacted by the cantor to set a date for the celebration which should take place close to the thirteenth birthday. The cantor prepares and trains each child for the ceremony.
Each bar/bat mitzvah is encouraged to lead the service, chant a portion from Torah and Haftarah, and prepare a personal prayer and a devar Torah.
Members of the family may wish to bless the candles and lead the congregation in kiddush at the Friday evening service. The parents are asked to be present with their child on the bima for the morning service and offer their own prayer on behalf of their child. Participation of the parents adds meaning and beauty to this family occasion.
The congregation will welcome your entire family and your friends at the Friday evening service and the oneg Shabbat which follows. The celebrating family may wish to enhance and share their joy by sponsoring the oneg Shabbat, the pulpit flowers or the bimah basket. If you or a member of your family desires information about such sponsorship, please call the executive director.
Invitation And Reception
Please consult the executive director as early as possible for information about the use of the synagogue for a luncheon, dinner or reception following the service and about the form for your invitations. We urge all families to emphasize the primary importance of the religious service and to avoid overly lavish receptions or luncheons which may overshadow the significance of religious commitment in the eyes of the child.
The ceremony of Kabbalat Torah has profound Jewish significance. It occurs on the festival of Shavuot which Jewish tradition understands as the anniversary of the revelation at Mt. Sinai. It thus becomes an occasion for the re-enactment of the giving and receiving of Torah. Born out of the creative impulse which is characteristic of Reform Judaism, Kabbalat Torah provides an opportunity for young people (generally at the conclusion of the tenth grade) to make public affirmation of their loyalty to God, Torah and Israel. Kabbalat Torah calls upon the Jewish student to begin the life-long task of struggling with Jewish thought, Jewish faith and the privilege of shaping Jewish destiny. On Shavuot, the members of the Kabbalat Torah class speak to the congregation of their own thoughts and feelings. Kabbalat Torah should not mark the end of one’s Jewish education: its purpose is to encourage continued intellectual and spiritual growth and stimulate the students’ desires for life-long learning.