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Congregation Beth HaTephila

An Engaging, Inclusive, Reform Congregation in the Blue Ridge Mountains


Social Distancing in Effect. No gatherings at the Temple.
Click here for more info on the Temple's Covid-19 status.

B'Nai Mitzvah

B'Nai MitzvahWe enjoy seeing our youngsters become bar or bat mitzvah.  A good deal of study, practice and preparation is required to be able to lead the service, chant the portion and interpret that portion. The event reflects a good amount of rote and conceptual learning. It is also an indicator of a commitment. We all kvell (rejoice) in the youngster’s accomplishments. It’s a joyous rite of passage.

In the early days of the bar mitzvah (no bat mitzvah then) the focal point of the the ceremony was when the father stated, “Blessed be He Who has taken from me the responsibility for this boy”.  This can be interpreted as meaning the boy is now completely responsible for all requirements of an adult ritualistically. It can also mean that childhood is over and the young man is on his own in an often grim and dangerous world.

Let’s all rejoice in the fact that it is a beautiful rite of passage and our children remain our responsibility and source of pride and pleasure for a much longer time.

B'Nai Mitzvah Training Program

Depending on the assigned date of the Bar or Bat Mitzvah, students generally begin tutoring for their Bat or Bar Mitzvah at the end of their 6th grade year or the beginning of their 7th grade year. (Please note: Though most students have spent sufficient time studying Hebrew and have made sufficient progress in acquiring Hebrew reading skills, ultimately decisions about preparedness for B’nai Mitzvah training are made jointly by the Rabbi and the Education Director).

Over the course of ten months, students review and/or learn to lead prayers to lead Friday night and Saturday morning Shabbat services. As well, they learn to chant their Torah and their Haftarah portion. Depending on the rate of learning and the students’ level of comfort, the Torah and/or Haftarah portion might be longer or shorter. We want the experience of Bat and Bar Mitzvah to be a memorable one, so we do our best to aim our training level toward the individual child, encouraging them to try their hardest, to do their best, and to push slightly outside their comfort zone without creating undue tension or stress for the student or the family.

Towards the end of the ten months, the student works privately with Rabbi on their d’var Torah. Rabbi also oversees the student’s mitzvah project -- a project that is of the student’s choosing that helps them to understand their power in effecting change locally and/or globally.

Finally, we work with our students in helping them have a sense of ownership over this rite of passage, to feel comfortable on the bimah, to project confidence and joy, and to make this experience very much their own.

Wed, December 2 2020 16 Kislev 5781