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Family Preparations

Becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah

Becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah is a momentous spiritual milestone not only for the child, but for the entire family. As a Bar/Bat Mitzvah stands at the threshold of young adulthood, his/her parent(s) prepare to pass down the Torah (teachings) of Jewish living, learning and values; and s/he prepares to grasp this Torah for him/herself. As students prepare for their B’nai Mitzvah, parents are encouraged to spend some time considering which values, traditions, customs, and beliefs they wish to pass along to their children, and to find ways to communicate this Torah to their children.

Parents can nurture a connection and commitment to Judaism in several ways

  • By studying the weekly Torah portion with their children. (Discussion guides on the weekly portion see http://www.reformjudaism.org/learning/youth-families or at myjewishlearning.com)
  • By celebrating Shabbat and holidays – including lighting candles and saying Kiddush (blessing for wine) and Motzi (blessing over bread). (See http://www.reformjudaism.org/jewish-holidays/shabbat to see how)
  • Attending worship services together as a family. Consider, especially, attending Shabbat Hallelu (usually the first Friday each month at 7:45 p.m.), Simchat Shabbat (usually the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month at 9:00 a.m.) or Fourth Friday services (the fourth Friday of every month at 6 p.m.) services together.
  • Engaging in acts of tikkun olam (repairing of the world) as a family.
  • Discussing with your children what being Jewish or being part of a Jewish family means to you.

To help students foster a connection with Judaism and prepare for Bar/Bat Mitzvah, we require students and parents to regularly attend both Religious School and synagogue services. By attending services, students and their families become comfortable with prayers and rituals and gain familiarity with worship at Temple Emanu-El. Parents are required to attend these services with their children. Additionally, the clergy plans pre-B’nai Mitzvah family education programs to help both parents and students prepare.

Parents are strongly urged to participate in all aspects of Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation.  Attend services with your child. Participate in family pre-B’nai Mitzvah education programming, called “Hineinu.”  Discuss the Torah and Haftarah portions as well as ideas for the d’var Torah (a short speech written and presented by each Bar/Bat Mitzvah student, which teaches something about the Torah portion and includes some personal reflection). In the last few months leading up to the service, see that your child practices daily. The more you participate in the preparation process, the more comfortable and confident you and your child will be, and the more enriching the experience will be for all of you. Your approach to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation and planning process can communicate that the spiritual significance of Bar/Bat Mitzvah outweighs the importance of the celebration that may follow.