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Guide to B-Mitzvah at BHA

Welcome!

We are so excited that you are going to celebrate you or your child becoming a B-Mitzvah (Bar/Bat/Brit Mitzvah) at Beacon Hebrew Alliance!

Bar/Bat Mitzvah means son/daughter of the commandments. Brit Mitzvah means covenant of the commandment. We use B-Mitzvah to refer to all three. No matter what we call it, it is a ceremony marking the first steps a person will take towards becoming a morally accountable Jewish adult. In Jewish terms, the person takes on the responsibility of living by the mitzvot, the commitments of Jewish living.  

This is a resource to help planning for your celebration. If you have any questions about any of the practical issues, please be in touch with our Education Director, Julia Gross Alexander, julia@beaconhebrewalliance.org (831-2012 ext. 104)

Preparation

Scheduling

Please be in touch with Education Director Julia Gross Alexander to discuss our scheduling process.

Layning/Chanting Torah

Beginning eight months prior to the B-Mitzvah,  students will meet privately with the cantor for 45 minutes each week. They will learn the trope (musical notations) for layning (chanting) Torah and Haftarah (for the morning service) and will apply it to their portions. The students will spend time on the bima with the cantor so that they feel comfortable taking a leadership role on the day of their B-Mitzvah and for years to come. 

Dvar Torah/Teaching

In order to understand the meaning of their portion and to prepare for their dvar torah (teaching), the students will have seven to ten meetings of one hour each with the Rabbi.

Davvening/Praying

A healthy spiritual life is something that emerges from the inside; it can be supported from the outside, but not forced. So we don’t “require” that people come to davven outside of the services which are now part of our Hebrew school program. However, we know that many people find it difficult to fully enter into the power of Jewish prayer, and there is no way to access that power except by regular exposure to the liturgy. Brent, Ellen, and Julia are more than happy to discuss what it might take for your children - and you - to be a regular part of the davvening experience.

Avodah/Service Project

Of course, becoming an adult in our community means taking responsibility for our community.  Just as we ask adults in our community to volunteer for some Lev Maleh shifts, so too do we ask our B-Mitzvah students to be Lev Maleh - full hearted - volunteers. 

Finances

Beyond tuition, there is no formal fee for celebrating a B-Mitzvah at BHA. We don't want there to be any financial barriers to celebrating a B-Mitzvah at BHA. However, in recognition of the time and effort that goes into preparing students for their b-mitzvah, families often choose to make a contribution to the Clergy Discretionary Fund at BHA. This fund allows us to fund programs that might not otherwise be possible and help families in need. There is no set amount; contributions have ranged from $50 to $5,000.  

Celebration

Planning Meetings

Often families wish to honor many friends and relatives, which is wonderful. Parents should schedule contact the administrator to schedule two meetings - one three weeks before the b-mitzvah and one the week before. These meetings will provide an opportunity to review the order of the service and ensure that everyone who you wish to honor is included. Here is a planning document to help prepare; please list the people you hope to honor and bring it to the first of these two meetings.

Friday Night Kiddush

We expect that your family will want to be part of services the Friday night before your celebration. We ask that you sponsor the kiddush, or festive meal shared after services. Please see the kiddush checklist for a full list of what's needed, and please check with Cantor Ellen Gersh about any particular programing scheduled for that Friday night. Our Lev Maleh volunteers will supervise set up and clean up on Friday night; it is good and appropriate for part of your family to sign up for the shifts for your Friday night.

During the service:

  • We ask that no photographs be taken during the service. If you would like to photograph your child and family on the bima please contact Julia to arrange a time.
  • Many families choose to make a pamphlet for the service; if you wish to do this, a model is here for you to refer to or adapt
  • The tradition of throwing candy is one that we would like to keep at BHA. We  will be responsible for purchasing the candy and  to avoid injury and chaos the B-Mitzvah student will gently toss candy at the congregation.

Saturday Afternoon

We hope that many guests and friends will be joining you for the celebration. Shabbat afternoon services run from about 4:00-5:30. People often want a snack afterward! We ask that you sponsor the kiddush, or festive meal shared after services.  Please see the kiddush checklist for a full list of what's needed. Please remember that we have no building staff here at BHA; your family is responsible for the set up of the downstairs space on Saturday morning and the clean up of the space on Saturday afternoon. 

Thu, August 22 2019 21 Av 5779