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Bar and Bat Mitzvah at PSJC

        Bar & Bat Mitzvah                Shaarei Mitzvah Program

Bar/Bat Mitzvah is a special time in a child’s life as he/she makes the transition to adulthood. It is also a time for his/her entire family to reconnect or to develop a relationship with the Jewish community. It is a time for the whole community to celebrate and welcome a new “adult member” to the Jewish world. It is a time for study, demonstrating commitment to Torah and the Jewish people, and for celebration.  On the day of a Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration at PSJC, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah will be called to the Torah for an aliyah, read the maftir portion from the Torah, chant the Haftorah, and share a teaching in the form of a D’var Torah. B’nai Mitzvah are also encouraged to lead parts of the service.

The Bar or Bat Mitzvah ceremony can take place either on Shabbat morning or at mincha (the afternoon service) on Shabbat.  In January of the 5th grade year, students and parents will attend a meeting to discuss the date selection process for Bar and Bat Mitzvah at PSJC as well as various options and opportunities for this celebration.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah is a recognition of the moment when a Jewish child reaches a certain level of maturity and understanding about Jewish life. As such, in addition to halachic requirements (i.e. that the Bar/Bat Mitzvah must be Jewish according to the standards of the Conservative movement and have reached his/her 13th birthday according to the Jewish calendar), we ask that each Bar/Bat Mitzvah has attended religious school (in our Hebrew School or in a program acceptable to the rabbi) for a minimum of five years.

We also feel it is important for B’nai Mitzvah and their families to be a part of the larger PSJC community. Therefore, we ordinarily ask that families be members of PSJC for two years prior to the celebration of a Bar/Bat Mitzvah.

In order to become familiar with the basic outline of Shabbat morning services and the life of the synagogue community, B’nai Mitzvah students (along with an adult family member) should attend services either at Junior Congregation or the main service at least 30 times during the two years prior to Bar/Bat Mitzvah, with at least half of those times being in the main sanctuary.  

A few months prior to Bar/Bat Mitzvah, students will meet with the rabbi to prepare a D’var Torah. It’s never too early, though, to begin studying one’s Torah portion!  The Rabbi also works with individuals to discuss ways you and your family and friends can participate more fully in the service on the day of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah.  From reading Torah, leading parts of services, creating readings, there are many opportunities to participate.  Rabbi Carter is also happy to walk through the service with you to help you and your family better understand service itself.  A child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah is a wonderful opportunity for all in the family to learn.

Our Director of Youth Education, Aileen Heiman, and Rabbi Carter will happily assist a family in finding a suitable tutor to help prepare for this day. PSJC tutors range in experience and skills and can work with students to learn their haftarah, Torah reading, elements of the service, and supplementary Jewish knowledge. Families arrange fees and tutoring schedule on a one-on-one basis with their tutor.

Financial Obligations
There is a $600 Bar/Bat Mitzvah fee. This covers meetings with the rabbi, the B’nai Mitzvah coordinator, use of the synagogue, and the Sha’arei Mitzvah program. As this is a community celebration, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah family is expected to sponsor kiddush for the community after services in celebration of the event. This should be arranged through the office.

Shaarei Mitzvah Program

In the months prior to Bar/Bat Mitzvah, students and their families will participate in Sha’arei Mitzvah (pre-B’nai Mitzvah program) to help develop the skills necessary for participation in the service and to discuss issues around becoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah with peers.  These programs include Shabbat meals, movie nights, family values discussions, and guest speakers.  Students enrolled in the PSJC Hebrew School will not have class on a Sunday when the Sha'arei Mitzvah program has met over Shabbat. Click here for more information on upcoming events.

Mitzvah Project
Becoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah is not only about “counting in a minyan,” or about being able to participate more fully in the ritual life of the community. It is about taking on a personal obligation to live as a Jew in every aspect of one’s life. Mitzvot are not only about ritual behavior but ethical responsibility as well. Therefore, in addition to participation in services and teaching through a D’var Torah, students are asked to create a personal mitzvah project through which they can give something to the broader community at this moment of taking the first steps as adult members of the Jewish community. This act of Tzedakah/Gemilut Hasadim marks a personal commitment to making Mitzvot an integral part of a student’s life, and it is an important part of the experience of becoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Examples of Mitzvah Projects.


Tue, January 28 2020 2 Shevat 5780