B’nai Mitzvah

Bar/Bat Mitzvah at Temple B’nai Jeshurun

What is the meaning of Bar/Bat Mitzvah?
Bar or Bat Mitzvah literally means “son” or “daughter of the Commandments.” Bar and bat mitzvah represent the ceremonial recognition that a young person has reached the age when he or she is responsible for the performance of the mitzvot. In the Reform tradition, we see the event as a time when someone who has been only a student to this point now knows enough to be able to teach others as he or she continues to learn. How old is the bar and bat mitzvah ceremony? In the Middle Ages, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah ritual developed involving having an aliyah to the Torah. Depending upon the abilities of the child, students led additional parts of the service. The first bat mitzvah ceremony was held in 1921. Its observance has become widespread in the last half century.

To Future B’nai Mitzvah:
You are about to begin a great adventure! It may be hard to believe that you are preparing to become a Bar/Bat Mitzvah. This is a very exciting time. You are probably a little anxious. So much is changing in your life. Becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah is symbolic of all that is happening to you. You are entering a new stage of life – adolescence. As part of growing older you will receive new privileges and responsibilities. While you are not yet a man or a woman, you are beginning the process of becoming a man or woman. When you become a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, you will receive Jewish privileges and take on Jewish responsibilities. You will receive the privilege of being counted in the minyan and receiving an aliyah. You will take on the life-long responsibility of Torah (study), Avodah (worship) and Gemilut Chasidim (performing good deeds). Your first responsibility is to take the preparation for your Bar/Bat Mitzvah seriously. Study every day; work hard! If you do, you will receive the satisfaction that comes from a job well done. We look forward to sharing this important event in your life with you and your family.

To Parents of Future B’nai Mitzvah:
You are participating in a process that began when your child was born or when he or she became a Jew. Soon you will experience the satisfaction of seeing your child conduct the service and read from the Torah. It is to your great credit that you have led your child to this point. The process of becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah begins when you formally enter your child into the brit, the covenant between God and the Jewish people. Formal Jewish education begins with our community’s pre-school and continues with attendance at the community religious school. You should set a date for your child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah service during their fourth grade year or as soon as possible afterwards so that we may reserve the date on the calendar. You may do this by calling Wendy Beckerman at the Temple Office 515-274-4679. Wendy will coordinate your preferred date with the Federation; we’ll meet to discuss the arrangements about one year before the actual date. This will provide sufficient time to avoid most conflicts on the community calendar. We look forward to sharing this simcha with you and with our congregation.