Bar/Bat Mitzvah

TEMPLE BETH HILLEL STANDARDS OF JEWISH EDUCATION

Temple Beth Hillel of South Windsor remains steadfast in its commitment to the Jewish education of all its members, as outlined in the Temple Beth Hillel Vision for Education. We take to heart our mission to educate the next generation of Jews. To this end, Temple Beth Hillel member families with Religious School aged children are invited and encouraged to enroll in Religious School; engage in the synagogue community, and participate in the numerous Shabbat, holiday, and family education opportunities.

In order for your child to be eligible to receive Bar/Bat Mitzvah training and celebrate a Bar/Bat Mitzvah at Temple Israel, you must be a member in good standing at Temple Israel, and your child must be enrolled in and attending one of the following programs:

Temple Beth Hillel Religious School; Private tutoring (only for students with demonstrable special needs);

All of our students, regardless of the program of Jewish education in which they enroll, are expected to participate in our congregation’s service and Family Education opportunities as set out in the TBH Passport to Jewish Family Life - e.g. attending a minimum of 8 T’fillah (prayer) services and 5 Family Education experiences with a parent during the year.

TEMPLE BETH HILLEL REQUIREMENTS FOR BAR/BAT MITZVAH

Minimum Years of Jewish Education Required by Temple Israel:

Eligibility for Bar/Bat Mitzvah training requires a minimum of six years of uninterrupted formal Jewish education, including the year of Bar/Bat Mitzvah instruction, meaning that students must be enrolled in the Religious School or other formal program of Jewish education by the time they begin second grade.

All students enrolled in Temple Israel’s Religious School must satisfy school attendance requirements in order to be eligible for Bar/Bat Mitzvah training. Additionally, students who: Complete the Zayin (7th grade) class prior to their Bar/Bat Mitzvah must be officially enrolled in and attending the Waxman Hebrew High School program at the time of their Bar/Bat Mitzvah, even if they have already completed six or more years of Jewish education; Have celebrated their Bar/Bat Mitzvah prior to the completion of the Zayin year are expected to complete the Zayin year, even if they have already completed six or more years of Jewish education; Leave a Jewish Day School or Yeshiva at any point prior to the completion of 7th grade are required to continue their Jewish education, uninterrupted, in a format to be determined with the Religious School administration on a case-by-case basis.

TEMPLE BETH HILLEL RELIGIOUS SCHOOL POLICY ON OUTSIDE TUTORING

It remains the mission of Temple Beth Hillel to educate the next generation of Conservative Jews. To this end, Temple Beth Hillel member families with Religious School aged children are invited and encouraged to enroll in Religious School; engage in the synagogue community; and participate in the numerous Shabbat and family education requirements outlined in the TIGN Passport to Jewish Family Life.

Private tutoring does not satisfy the educational requirements for Bar/Bat Mitzvah at Temple Beth Hillel, except in cases of demonstrable special needs.

This policy reflects the understanding that peer group learning experiences are vital to students’ social and religious development and to the continuity of Jewish communal life.

Students with demonstrable special needs may be permitted to receive private tutoring in place of all or part of Religious School classes. Parents seeking to make such arrangements should contact Cantor Scott Harris, Director of Education

Students previously enrolled in Jewish day schools are required to continue their Jewish education, uninterrupted, in a format to be determined with the Religious School administration on a case-by-case basis.


Guidlines I

B’nai Mitzvah literally means “Son/Daughter of the Commandment.” B’nai Mitzvah is a rite of passage, from a Jewish child to a young adult, into a world of choices and responsibilities. It requires an appreciation and understanding of what it means to be a Jew. The purpose of B’nai Mitzvah preparation is to acquaint the student with the wide spectrum of Jewish beliefs and practices. Through individualized tutoring and group experiences, each student will come to realize the possibilities for living one’s life in a Jewish way and will be able to start choosing their own unique Jewish path.

The B’nai Mitzvah experience is a door leading to Confirmation and Jewish adulthood. Our goal at Temple Beth Hillel is to enable the student to walk through that door toward a life as a Jewish adult capable of making religious choices based on knowledge and understanding. B’nai Mitzvah is not a suitable end point for Jewish education. It is the beginning of their Jewish education as young adults. Students are encouraged to continue through Confirmation at the end of their 10th grade year.

Expectations

It is expected that any candidate for B’nai Mitzvah will remain enrolled in and regularly attend Temple Beth Hillel’s Religious School and Hebrew School programs.

For their B’nai Mitzvah, a student should be able to demonstrate a proficient ability to:

  • Read Hebrew
  • Know/understand the content of a Shabbat evening service and participate in the service
  • Conduct a Shabbat morning service or Monday/Thursday morning, if applicable
  • Chant Torah and Haftarah blessings
  • Read or chant from the Torah scroll and the Haftarah portion
  • Prepare and deliver a brief commentary on the Torah and/or Haftarah portion, which includes a statement of the occasion’s significance. It is the student’s responsibility to research and prepare the commentary, with editorial help from the Rabbi

The above requirements may be adapted for children with special needs, on an individual basis, by a committee consisting of the Rabbi and the Principal.

B’nai Mitzvah students have an opportunity to personalize the service, in consultation and with approval from the Rabbi.  Such personalization could take the form of:

  • Chanting the Torah or Haftarah portion
  • Introducing individual readings into the context of a Gates of Prayer service
  • Providing Multiple Aliyot (a minimum of three verses of Torah per Aliyah) and various honors for family and friends.
  • Providing a small booklet listing the service outline, the service participants, and any other appropriate material. If Torah verses are printed, the booklets must be collected after the service for the genizah.
  • “Twinning” with a Jewish youngster prevented from completing his/her own B’nai Mitzvah.

In order to create a mood of Shabbat m’nuchah (rest) and oneg (joy), and to provide congregants opportunity to congratulate the B’nai Mitzvah family, parents of the classmates of the B’nai Mitzvah are expected to host the Oneg Shabbat on the nearest Friday night.

For a service of B’nai Mitzvah which will take place on an approved day other than Saturday, the B’nai Mitzvah shall be called to the Torah on Friday night after the B’nai Mitzvah service, so that the congregation can celebrate the coming of age of a new Jewish adult.

As a sign of taking on the responsibilities of an adult in the Jewish community, the B’nai Mitzvah is encouraged to make a special tzedakah donation in honor of becoming a B’nai Mitzvah.

Important Dates for Parents

4th Grade – Parent Meeting, First Month of School

  • Review/explain the B’nai Mitzvah and TBH Billing Policies, and the Mitzvah Mate Program.
  • Parents sign and return acknowledgement that they read and understand the B’nai Mitzvah and TBH Billing policies.  Students sign and return acknowledgement that they read and understand the B’nai Mitzvah policy.

5th Grade – Parent Meeting, First Month of School

  • Review/explain the B’nai Mitzvah and TBH Billing Policies, and the Mitzvah Mate Program.
  • Parents sign and return acknowledgement that they read and understand the B’nai Mitzvah and TBH Billing policies.  Students sign and return acknowledgement that they read and understand the B’nai Mitzvah policy.
  • Families request B’nai Mitzvah dates.
  • Requests are evaluated and approval/disapproval of dates is communicated to families within four weeks of the meeting.

6th Grade - Fall

  • Student chooses a Mitzvah Mate
  • Meet with Rabbi to choose Parshah (Torah portion)

7 Months Prior to B’nai Mitzvah

  • Call Temple Office to arrange for a B’nai Mitzvah tutor.  Tutoring begins 6 months prior to B’nai Mitzvah.

6 Months Prior to B’nai Mitzvah

  • Student and family meet with Rabbi.
  • Choose and ask a past or current Board member to present the B’nai Mitzvah certificate.
  • Choose and ask a Sisterhood/Men’s Club member to present the Kiddush cup.         
  • Choose and ask a classmate to present the Torah Commentary as the class gift.

6 Weeks Prior to B’nai Mitzvah

  • Student and family meet with Rabbi for final preparation.
  • Schedule rehearsal with Rabbi for week of B’nai Mitzvah.
  • Friday night Oneg is sponsored by the parents of the B’nai Mitzvah classmates.
  • Saturday morning - family of the B’nai Mitzvah is responsible for the wine cups and the wine.

Guidlines II

Temple Beth Hillel B’nai Mitzvah Policy has been adopted to assure that the B’nai Mitzvah student:

  • Understands and can lead a Shabbat service
  • Can read/chant Torah and Haftarah
  • Develops a commitment to community – TBH, Jewish, and the broader community
  • Develops into a responsible, observant Jewish adult

This policy will be distributed to all 4th grade parents at a meeting to be held during the first month of Religious School.  The meeting will be led by a committee consisting of the Rabbi, a member of the Board, and a representative from RPC.  Also at this meeting, the TBH Billing Policy and the Mitzvah Mate Program will be reviewed and explained.  Parents must sign and return an acknowledgement that they have read and understand the Billing and B’nai Mitzvah policies. The B’nai Mitzvah student must also sign and return an acknowledgement that they have read and understand the B’nai Mitzvah policy.

Requirements Leading up to B’nai Mitzvah

Religious School – the student is required to attend a Jewish religious school for four years prior to the B’nai Mitzvah.  In special circumstances, a four person committee consisting of the Rabbi, the Principal, and a representative from each of RPC and RSC may agree to provide an alternative arrangement.

Service Leadership – the student must lead at least two Religious School services in each of 6th & 7th grade.

Mitzvah Mate Program – the student must successfully complete the Mitzvah Mate Program (described separately) at least 8 weeks prior to their B’nai Mitzvah date.

Service/Community Event Attendance – Beginning in 4th grade, the student is required to attend Shabbat services and to participate in community events (defined below) as follows:

 

Shabbat Services

CommunityEvents
 4th Grade      6  3
 5th Grade up to 24 months prior to B’nai Mitzvah date avg. 8/yr  avg. 3/yr 
 24 up to 12 months prior to B’nai Mitzvah date 10  3
12 months up to 7 weeks prior to week of B’nai Mitzvah 8 3
Within last 7 weeks prior to week of B’nai Mitzvah 4 N/A

Each family will get a personalized sheet detailing their specific requirements when their B’nai Mitzvah date is approved.  An example of the requirements is included at the end of this document.

At least 80% of the Shabbat services must be attended at TBH.

A community event must be a TBH sponsored function that involves at least 10 TBH member families (other than immediate families of the student) that lasts at least an hour.  Religious School sponsored functions cannot be counted as a community event.

The following are examples of community events:

  • participation in holiday services (e.g., Simchat Torah, Purim)
  • participation in the Sh’ma Tour
  • participation in a pilgrimage to the cemetery
  • participation in a TBH retreat
  • participation in a youth event, providing at least 10 TBH youth are involved (other than immediate family members)
  • participation in Shabbat services

Attending High Holiday services will earn credit for only one community event per year.

Other Requirements

  • To promote a feeling of community, all members of the student’s B’nai Mitzvah class must be invited to attend the B’nai Mitzvah and to join in all of the celebrations thereafter.
  • The student must invite the congregation to their B’nai Mitzvah service by issuing an invitation in the Temple bulletin at least 8 weeks prior to their B’nai Mitzvah.

B’nai Mitzvah Dates

A committee consisting of the Rabbi, a member of the Board, and a representative from RPC will meet with the 5th grade parents (as a group) on one of the first four Sundays of Religious School.  At this meeting, the B’nai Mitzvah Policy, the TBH Billing Policy, and the Mitzvah Mate Program will be reviewed and explained.  Parents must sign and return an acknowledgement that they have read and understand the B’nai Mitzvah and TBH Billing policies.  Parents will then have their first opportunity to request B’nai Mitzvah dates at this meeting.  Requests will be evaluated by the committee and approval/disapproval will be communicated to parents within 4 weeks of the meeting.  The following criteria will be used by the committee to approve requested dates:

  • All 4th grade Shabbat service and community event requirements must be satisfied before the B’nai Mitzvah date can be approved.  The committee may allow a student to “catch up” in 5th grade, but no B’nai Mitzvah date will be approved until the “catch up” has been satisfied.
  • No B’nai Mitzvah date can be approved unless the parent has signed and returned an acknowledgement that they have read and understand the B’nai Mitzvah and TBH Billing policies and The B’nai Mitzvah student has also signed and returned an acknowledgement that they have read and understand the B’nai Mitzvah policy.
  • The B’nai Mitzvah date must be within 8 weeks prior to the student’s 13th birthday, or any time thereafter.
  • Acceptable dates are a Saturday (10:00 am), Monday, or Thursday morning, as well as Rosh Chodesh morning (New Moon – the first day of Hebrew month) and Hol HaMo’ed morning (intermediary days of Sukkot, Pesach or Shavuot).
  • B’nai Mitzvah dates cannot be:
    • any date designated as a holy date or festival
    • the Shabbat services before Rosh Hashanah or
    • all Shabbat services between Rosh Hashanah and Simchat Torah
    • the Shabbat when Tish B’av or Yom HaShoah is observed
    • the Shabbat during a URJ convention or a CCAR convention
    • the Shabbat immediately following Thanksgiving

Policy Enforcement

25 months and 13 months prior to a student’s B’nai Mitzvah date – at these checkpoints (+/- two weeks), compliance with this policy will be evaluated by a committee consisting of the President (or their Designee), the Rabbi, and a representative of RPC.  If requirements of this policy have not been met, the committee will be empowered to require a program of corrective actions over a period not to exceed 6 months, or to inform the parents that their B’nai Mitzvah date is being taken off of the TBH calendar.  If the date is being taken off of the TBH calendar, the President will direct the Temple Secretary to do so.

7 Months prior to a student’s B’nai Mitzvah date - – at this checkpoint (+/- two weeks), compliance with this policy will be evaluated by a committee consisting of the President (or their Designee), the Rabbi, and a representative of RPC.  If requirements of this policy have not been met, the committee will inform the parents that their B’nai Mitzvah date is being taken off of the TBH calendar and the President will direct the Temple Secretary to remove the date from the TBH calendar.  If the requirements of this policy have been met, the President will inform the Office Secretary that B’nai Mitzvah Policy requirements have been met.  It will be the responsibility of the Office Secretary to confirm compliance with TBH’s Billing Policy and, if in compliance, to schedule B’nai Mitzvah tutoring.

1 Month prior to a student’s B’nai Mitzvah date - – at this checkpoint (+/- one week), compliance with this policy will be evaluated by a committee consisting of the President (or their Designee), the Rabbi, and a representative of RPC.  If requirements of this policy have not been met, the committee will inform the parents that their B’nai Mitzvah date is being taken off of the TBH calendar and the President will direct the Temple Secretary to remove the date from the TBH calendar.

Examples of Shabbat Service and Community Event Requirements

Example 1:  Assume a B’nai Mitzvah date of 5/2/15 is approved.  Then, the requirements are:

  • 4th grade - attend 6 Shabbat services and participate in 3 community events
  • 5th grade up to 5/2/13 – since this is an 8 month period and the requirement is an average of 8 Shabbat services per year and an average of 3 community events per year, the requirement is 5 Shabbat services (8 x 8/12) and 2 community events (3 x 8/12)
  • 5/3/13 up to 5/2/14 – 10 Shabbat services and 3 community events
  • 5/3/14 up to  3/14/15 – 8 Shabbat services and 3 community events
  • 3/15/15 up to 4/25/15 – 4 Shabbat services

Example 2:  Assume a B’nai Mitzvah date of 9/13/14 is approved.  Then, the requirements are:

  • 4th grade - attend 6 Shabbat services and participate in 3 community events
  • 5th grade up to 9/13/12 – since this is less than 1 month, this requirement does not apply
  • 9/14/12 up to 9/13/13 – 10 Shabbat services and 3 community events
  • 9/14/13 up to  7/26/14 – 8 Shabbat services and 3 community events
  • 7/27/14 up to 9/6/14 – 4 Shabbat services

TBH Mitzvah Mate Program

The Mitzvah Mate program is a mentoring program which partners a Bar/Bat Mitzvah student with an adult member of Temple Beth Hillel.  To be effective, B’nai mitzvah students should carefully consider who they would like to ask to be their Mitzvah Mate.  Asking parents of other students in the class is discouraged.

Students are expected to choose their Mitzvah Mate in the fall of their sixth grade religious school year.  See below for requirements to be an adult Mitzvah Mate.

The adult Mitzvah Mates will be required to attend a training session with the Rabbi in the fall of the student’s sixth grade religious school year.  The training sessions will occur in the Fall after Sukkot is over.  Retraining is recommended every five years.

The Rabbi will be available to answer any questions or concerns throughout the year.

MITZVOT REQUIREMENTS

The Mitzvah Mate and the student will choose at least 11 mitzvot, including one mitzvah for the Temple (e.g. volunteering to bake for Bingo, helping to clean the kitchen, helping to clean the classrooms, gardening, outside cleanup, sukkah prep, etc…) and one mitzvah for the community outside our Temple.  There are three categories of mitzvot:

  • Torah and Jewish Learning (Torah) – at least 4 mitzvot must be from this category
  • Worship and Ritual (Avodah) - at least 4 mitzvot must be from this category
  • Acts of Kindness (Gemilut Hasadim) - at least 3 mitzvot must be from this category

Examples of mitzvot in each category are attached.  The student may be creative and perform a mitzvah which is not on the attached lists, but they must first get approval for their proposed mitzvah from their Mitzvah Mate.

REQUIREMENTS TO BE AN ADULT MITZVAH MATE PARTICIPANT

  • The Mitzvah Mate must be a Jewish adult member of Temple Beth Hillel.
  • The Mitzvah Mate cannot be a member of the student’s immediate family.
  • The Mitzvah Mate is expected to meet with the student periodically over the course of the 12 months before the B’nai Mitzvah to discuss the student’s mitzvot.

Sample Mitzvot

TORAH - JEWISH LEARNING (choose at least four):

  1. Develop a personal Jewish library, beginning with the addition of at least two books of Jewish religious significance.  Discuss with your Mitzvah Mate why you chose these books for your library.
  2. Read two Jewish books and write a brief report on each, include how these stories might relate to your journey towards Jewish adulthood.  Hand these in to your Mitzvah Mate.
  3. Watch three pre-approved TV programs or movies with Jewish subject matter (i.e. Fiddler on the Roof).  Discuss these with your Mitzvah Mate.
  4. Read a Jewish magazine or newspaper.  Write a brief report on one article, include how this might relate to your journey towards Jewish adulthood.  Hand this into your Mitzvah Mate.
  5. Visit a Jewish museum or exhibit.  Discuss your experience with your Mitzvah Mate.
  6. Find three articles of Jewish interest in a secular newspaper or magazine.  Write a brief report on one article, include how this might relate to your journey towards Jewish adulthood.  Hand this into your Mitzvah Mate.
  7. Research and write a brief paragraph on Jewish people in another country.  Hand this into your Mitzvah Mate and discuss.
  8. Research and write a brief paragraph on the history, purpose and celebration of a Jewish holiday or custom.  Hand this into your Mitzvah Mate and discuss.
  9. Research and make a family tree.  Hand this into your Mitzvah Mate.
  10. Read/research a Torah portion (other than your own).  Discuss what you learned with your Mitzvah Mate.

AVODAH – WORSHIP AND RITUAL (choose at least four):

  1. Choose one of the Shabbat Mitzvot (Kiddush, Ha-Motzi, Lighting candles, Havdalah) that your family does not already do.  Perform it for at least four consecutive Friday evenings.  Discuss how you felt with your Mitzvah Mate.
  2. Many Jews recite Shema, including V’ahavta, in Hebrew and/or English, before bed at night.   For one month, recite these prayers before going to bed.   Keep a record of the thoughts you have after doing this Mitzvah and discuss with your Mitzvah Mate.
  3. Make and use a Jewish object. Such as a Mezuzah case (make sure it has a Kosher Klaf (parchment), Havdalah candle, Menorah or Challah cover.
  4. Help prepare food for Oneg or Holiday celebrations at the synagogue or religious school.
  5. Do something for four Saturdays to make Shabbat special.
  6. Check supermarket shelves and make a list of the different symbols that signify a Kosher product.  Do this with your Mitzvah Mate.
  7. If you do not live in a Kosher home, do not eat dairy products with meat products or non-Kosher foods for one week.  Keep a diary of your reactions and feelings and share them with your Mitzvah Mate.
  8. Help decorate the Temple sukkah.
  9. Help with the Purim carnival.

GEMILUT HASADIM – ACTS OF KINDNESS (choose at least three):

  1. Make a contribution to a synagogue fund in honor or in memory of a person.
  2. Pledge 5-20% of your Bar/Bat Mitzvah gift money received to the charity of your choice.
  3. Clean out your drawers and closets and donate the old clothing and toys to the needy, to an orphanage, etc.
  4. Write to an elected official about an issue of concern to your community, the country or the Jewish people.  It may be helpful to read a Jewish periodical to determine what problem you wish to address.  Discuss this with your Mitzvah Mate.
  5. Help a classmate who is ill or behind in schoolwork.  If necessary, bring his/her homework, library books, messages, etc. between home and school.
  6. Show hospitality.  Invite a new classmate to your home for a meal.
  7. Comfort a mourner by paying a visit or sending a card.
  8. Help your family or talk to your parents to determine a new chore or task for you that will indicate your growing responsibility and maturity.
  9. Help an elderly adult in your neighborhood by raking leaves, shoveling snow or doing errands.  Do not take payment.