bnai mitzvah program

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A Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah marks the beginning of a new stage in the life of a Jewish student. As he/she ascends the bimah, he/she begins the process of becoming a Jewish adult and claiming his/her own relationship to our ancient tradition.

This is an extraordinarily important process. Bar / Bat Mitzvah is a stage along the way, not the end-point. A Bar / Bat Mitzvah is only successful if it instills in a young person a desire to continue his/her Jewish education and involvement in the life of the Jewish community.


The Bar / Bat Mitzvah may be scheduled as early as the fourth grade. A basic requirement for each student is a minimum of two years in a Jewish day school or religious school immediately prior to the Bar / Bat Mitzvah year, and enrollment in Temple Emanuel Day School or Religious School the year of the Bar / Bat Mitzvah. A student must be at least thirteen years old at the time of the Bar / Bat Mitzvah. It is Temple Emanuel policy not to schedule a date more than one month before the student’s thirteenth birthday, but it may be scheduled, of course, any time after.

For the family, the basic requirement is Temple Emanuel membership in good standing. Bar / Bat Mitzvah fees will be billed approximately one year prior to the ceremony, and all outstanding Temple dues and fees should be paid in full at that time.

A Year of Preparation

Approximately one year before the Bar / Bat Mitzvah, parents attend our B’nai Mitzvah Parents’ Orientation. This Orientation is a great help for parents as they prepare for the big event and the year that precedes it. Also approximately one year ahead, each student will be given proficiency exam(s) in Hebrew reading and knowledge of prayers. If necessary, private tutoring can be arranged through the cantor, or postponement of the ceremony may be required.

Eight months before the Bar / Bat Mitzvah, parents and student attend a family meeting with the officiating rabbi. Following this meeting, there are seven months of personal intensive Bar / Bat Mitzvah training for each student, in Hebrew, once a week for a half hour, in the instructor’s office. Students study, with the aid of a Bar / Bat Mitzvah notebook and a special CD, the chanting of blessings and prayers, and the chanting of the Torah and haftarah portions. During the final month of this preparation, each student will meet with the cantor once a week for an hour.

We are blessed to have a superb B’nai Mitzvah mentoring program. Once a month, for five months, each student will meet with an adult student at the Hebrew Union College, or with a Temple member or staff-person expert in Jewish studies. This spiritual mentor will help guide each of our students.

During the week of the Bar / Bat Mitzvah, the final rehearsal will be held, for parents and student, with the cantor. Bar / Bat Mitzvah is a stage along the way, not the end-point. We encourage each student to continue his / her Jewish education through our Confirmation program.

The Friday Night Service

On the Friday evening preceding the Bar / Bat Mitzvah, the student participates in the Erev Shabbat service. The families of the Bar / Bat Mitzvah are invited to bless the Sabbath candles during the service. The families are welcome to invite guests to the service.

It is customary for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah family to sponsor an Erev Shabbat Service Oneg. For more information please contact Tannaz at Tannaz@tebh.org or 310.409.4640 to make the appropriate arrangements.

The Bar / Bat Mitzvah Service

The length of the Bar / Bat Mitzvah service varies, but it is approximately two hours long. Honors are available to the family and their friends, and include the following:

Opening and closing the Ark
Aliyot (blessings) before and after the Torah readings. There are three in the morning and three in the afternoon, excluding the aliyah of the Bar / Bat Mitzvah student. If the student chooses to read more Torah, it is possible to have up to seven aliyot in the morning service.
Lifting the Torah (hagbah)
Dressing the Torah (glilah)


Kiddush and Reception

The simple, traditional Kiddush, on Saturday, of challah and wine is included in the Bar / Bat Mitzvah fee and is held on the bimah immediately following the ceremony. Families may also wish to have an (optional) Extended Kiddush in the Social Hall or the foyer, or an (optional) full-party Luncheon or Dinner in the Social Hall. There are several catering options from which to choose. Our Temple is blessed to have beautiful in-house party facilities, so that family and friends have the convenience of having the service and reception in one location.

You will find that when you share the service that a young adult will help lead, and when you listen to him/her teach the congregation, you will want to recite the traditional blessing thanking God for “keeping us in life, sustaining us, and bringing us to the important moment.”

For further information about our Bar / Bat Mitzvah program, please contact our B’nai Mitzvah Coordinator, Lynn Franklin, at the Clergy Office, 310-288-3742.

It is customary for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah family to sponsor an Erev Shabbat Service. The cost for this honor is $200. Please contact Tannaz at Tannaz@tebh.org or 310.409.4640 to make these arrangements.