Expectations and Rituals
B’nai Mitzvah candidates are expected to attend Religious School (Sunday mornings and Tuesday afternoons) at Beth David. This is the best way for them to learn not only the Hebrew for the prayers they will lead in their service, but also what it means to be a Jew in the community. Students should ideally master all required prayers by the end of sixth grade, while seventh grade gives them the opportunity to delve more deeply into understanding the Torah and their identity as Jews. Beginning six months before their B’nai Mitzvah date, students will begin 1-on-1 tutoring at Beth David on Tuesday afternoons, either during or just before/after Religious School.
The best way to prepare for and familiarize oneself with the Bar/Bat Mitzvah service is to attend other Shabbat services at Beth David. Please know that you are always welcome at any service, even if you don’t know the student becoming a bar/bat mitzvah on a particular morning, and even if you are coming from work or sports practice and don’t have time to change clothing. This allows you to observe what occurs and ask questions at your rehearsal about any point that may seem confusing. The teachers and clergy will certainly help the B’nai Mitzvah candidate during Religious School, meetings, and rehearsals, but experiencing Shabbat services as a family as well will have the deepest impact on your child.
We expect every student to enhance the B’nai Mitzvah experience by working on a Mitzvah project, a volunteer project that gives the student an opportunity to act on Jewish values outside the walls of the synagogue.
In our experience, the projects that are most meaningful to students involve:
- Sustained volunteering over the course of at least several months, perhaps in addition to a gift of tzedakah (charity) or fundraising effort
- Face-to-face interaction with children or adults the student might not normally have such deep encounters with, whether because of differences in age, socio-economic status, or disability
- An opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the problem or issue the people are struggling with
Many families find special meaning in doing the mitzvah project together. There is a mitzvah project that will work for every family, it just takes time to research. We are happy to help you! B’nai Mitzvah candidates will also discuss their mitzvah project in their D’var Torah and how it has enhanced this process and their steps towards Jewish responsibility and adulthood.
At Beth David we have a lovely ceremony, generally on a Shabbat in January of sixth grade, called Mattan Parashah, or Giving of the Torah portion. A parashah is the portion of the Torah that a Bar/Bat Mitzvah candidate will learn to chant. At Mattan Parashah, your upcoming simcha will begin to take on a new and profound importance; therefore the entire family is invited to attend this meaningful ceremony and dinner with the rest of the sixth grade class. The B’nai Mitzvah candidates will all receive their personal copies of the siddur, Mishkan T’filah, as well as a booklet specific to the Torah and Haftarah portions for his/her date.