Becoming B'nei Mitzvah: The Journey Toward Adulthood at Temple Judea

Policies & Fees Service Blessings & Prayers Religious School & HebrewPreparing for B'nei Mitzvah 

 **Temple Judea's policy is that the family of the B'nei Mitzvah must be current members of Temple Judea, with all financial obligations satisfied, during the entire preparation period and membership year in which the service takes place. Students are also expected to be concurrently enrolled in Temple Judea's Religious school and/or Jewish day school from the 4th grade, including Judaic & Hebrew studies. If your have additional questions, are staring this process late, or think your family may need additional tutoring or accommodations, please reach out.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it better to be in the larger sanctuary than the chapel, what's the difference?

Each of our sacred spaces have a special ambiance in their own unique way. The Goor Sanctuary offers a soaring ceiling and an outstanding state-of-the-art sound system. The sanctuary features floor to ceiling windows and seats up to 500 people. The Chapel offers an alternative, intimate space for worship services and seats comfortably 110 people. Livestream and recording are only available in the Goor Sanctuary.

I feel pressure to have a lavish reception, but it’s not in our budget, what can we do?

We deeply empathize with this modern predicament. Ideally, there should be no pressure to hold a lavish celebration, but we know that “Keeping Up With the Steins” is often a part of the emotional experience of bar/bat mitzvah. We recommend coming in to talk with our clergy to help put this event in its proper perspective, celebrating the connection of your child and family to Jewish life and tradition. There are many ways to celebrate joyfully without breaking the bank and our clergy and staff can assist you in thinking differently about this event.

Why do we have to pick a BBM date so early?

Actually, you do not have to pick your date 3 years in advance, but there a plenty of parents who opt to do so. Dates book up quickly, but there are always dates available if you are willing to be flexible.

My child’s friend is having their BBM on the same date and time, the kids will have to choose which BBM to attend, how do I handle this situation?

We completely understand, if your child has not started to learn their Torah Portion, you might want to consider moving the service to a later date. Please feel free to discuss this with our clergy, who can help to advise you in your particular situation.

My child has other commitments after school, so they cannot make all of the seminars, can they make it up?

Families may choose for their child to study privately, for a small additional fee. Please contact our clergy to discuss this option.

Does my child have to be enrolled in RS school before the BBM?

No, not necessarily. For 4 consecutive years leading up to their B'nei Mitzvah, your child must either be enrolled in Religious School at Temple Judea (or have attended a different Religious School for part of that time) OR they may attend a Jewish Day School (VBS, Heschel, Elan Rimon, Kadima, Wise, Beth Hillel, Adat Ariel El, or Milken.)

My child has so much going on, can we skip the Tuesday/Sunday religious school and just come to B'nei Mitzvah Studies?

We know that your child has a lot going on, and the months leading up to becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah are very busy times for your family. But attending Religious School is an important part of becoming a B'nei Mitzvah. That is why our Religious School has built in both flexibility and standards into its program. We expect students to attend class regularly, but our students (through sixth grade) may attend class on the “other day” on any week your child can’t attend on his or her “regular” scheduled day (Tuesday or Sunday). That gives students flexibility to find one day each week (Tuesday or Sunday) where they can make it to class. For a student in seventh grade, there is a different type of flexibility in our program. Each child must do one learning session per month (eight per year) and may choose which of the other weeks he or she attends and does Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) with a minimum of one per month.

I can’t get my child to practice their B'nei Mitzvah lessons at home, what can I do?

Our Clergy are always available to discuss some encouraging strategies to help motivate your child to study.

What do I need to provide for my child’s ceremony?

Have your child bring all of their study materials to the ceremony, otherwise, Temple Judea provides it all! We include a giant Aliyah blessing sheet for family members chanting the Torah blessing, Kiddush Cup with wine, Challah, Challah cover, Havdalah set if applicable! Also, we provide Tallitot, Kippot, & Yad/Torah pointer for attendees. Your Bar/Bat Mitzvah child is welcome to use the Temple’s ritual objects, if they do not have a special one of their own. In addition, we also provide you with a thumb drive containing an unedited version of the service. We even live stream the service for those of your family/friends who are unable to attend. Temple Judea will provide the bima decor! No flowers please, as we do not customize the bima.

How do I write the blessing to my child, what do I say?

At the latter part of the service, each parent has the opportunity to offer their child words of blessing that talk about the significance of this special moment and is appropriate for this holy and special occasion. Visit the "Preparation Materials" tab at the top of this Resources page to find find several examples of parent blessings.

What do we prepare for the Erev Shabbat service?

B'nei Mitzvah students and their families are invited to be honored in front of the whole congregation at our Friday Night Shabbat service. Your family will be called up to stand with the clergy for Kiddush, and your child will chant this prayer with any other B'nei mitzvah students, assisted by the cantors. This is a great way to share your joy with the larger congregation, and for the community to welcome your child into the “adult” Jewish world.

Do I need to get every person’s Hebrew name?

We only ask for Hebrew names for those chanting the Aliyah blessing. Hebrew names are not needed for any other honor. These names are not needed if you are unable to acquire them. (Note: if someone is a Jew by Choice, their "parents" are Avraham and Sarah, as if they are descended from the very first Jews.).

I don’t know my child’s Hebrew name/my Hebrew name.

Sometimes a Hebrew or Jewish name is listed on a certificate you’ve filed away from the baby naming or bris. If you have not yet given your child a Hebrew name, or if you do not have one yourself, speak with the clergy and they can help you choose one. Note: Hebrew names are for those who are Jewish; if a parent is not Jewish, their given name would be written phonetically in Hebrew letters.

Can a non-Jewish relative say an Aliyah?

Our bima is fully open to all, and there are occasions when a non Jewish relative comes up for an aliyah. That said, it is most appropriate for Jews to recite the aliyah blessing. We believe in the power of words, and these words speak of Jewish connection and commitment. However, please discuss individual situations with your clergy for more guidance.

If parents and members of our family don't read Hebrew, how will we say the blessing during the service?

Not to worry, the prayers are printed with English transliteration. You will have plenty of opportunities to practice, as well the Clergy will be on the bima by your side to help you through.

Do most people have someone come up and say the prayer for Israel and the prayer for the U.S.?

We didn’t see it on the list for honorees. We have opportunities for someone to read this prayer in English, and can find creative ways to involve your honorees if need be.

How many Aliyot does my child have to chant? What if he/she wants to do more?

There are 7 aliyot available (plus the Maftir, the special portion reserved for the bar/bat mitzvah student). Most of our students chant somewhere around 3 aliyot. Some students are very musical and have very strong Hebrew skills, others find this more challenging. Some students have very little going on after school and are at schools with little homework; others have a host of extra curricular activities and mountains of homework. The number of aliyot simply depends on how much time your family has to devote to this process. We will assist your child in working to their highest potential. We aim for all students to be challenged by the material, but not stressed. If you’d like to discuss this more, you’re welcome to contact our clergy.

What is the attire at the service?

We ask that you and your family dress in a way that is respectful of the sanctuary and fitting of a religious occasion. For boys, this means a dress shirt, tie, and jacket. For girls, shoulders should be covered by a jacket or sweater. A tallit does not qualify as a cover of the shoulders. The dress length should be long enough to cover the thighs when seated. Shoes should be comfortable so that she can easily carry the Torah throughout the sanctuary, including walking up and down steps.

Do we have to buy custom Kippot?

Absolutely not. Temple Judea will provide kippot for the congregation. If you wish to customize your kippah, please contact the Temple Judea gift shop and they will assist you in the ordering process. As well, our gift shop has a lovely selection of Tallit & Judaica jewelry & gifts.

Do I need to create a program for my child’s ceremony?

This is not necessary! All the honors are announced from the bima and people will be called up at the appropriate times. However, if you still prefer to create a program, we can provide a template, available upon request. We even have some samples of various programs, that we can show you! Please do not print your program without checking with the clergy, so that your information can be fully accurate.

Can we throw candy after the service?

While we seek to make our celebrations warm, fun and engaging, we do not allow this particular practice. In previous generations, members of the community knew to shower candy gently upon the honoree. Today, too many people pelt the candy with arms trained to pitch baseballs, or run down older guests while attempting to scramble for candy. This chaotic and out of control behavior is not what we seek to promote.

Is there wheelchair access?

Yes! There is wheelchair access to the Bimah, in addition to our synagogue being compliant with disability needs.

Will there be a challah after the service?

Yes! Challah is provided following the morning ceremony, and for every afternoon service without havdalah, pending COVID safety policies.

Can my videographer/photographer take videos/photos during the service?

Yes! During the service itself, photography and videography is permitted as long as the personnel remain in the back of the room and are stationary. No flash photography or noisy cameras are permitted during the service. Also, photographers will often meet with the family and take the majority of pictures on the day of the service, an hour to 90 minutes preceding the service. Occasionally a family will want to have these pictures taken on another day. Please call the B’nei Mitzvah Coordinator, Stacey Rutstein x 210, to arrange for either of these and to confirm that the sanctuary or chapel is available and that a temple staff person will be on hand. All photography must be scheduled in advance. We do have specific rules regarding photography in on our campus and all photographers will be required to sign acknowledging receipt of these rules.

How do I show my appreciation to the clergy after the ceremony, is there a certain amount to give?

Many families choose to acknowledge their thanks for this special occasion by means of a charitable gift. Inside the Judean you will find a list of funds established to receive such donations. These funds enable full participation in our community for those who might otherwise be unable to participate, as well as helping to underwrite the temple goals in the areas of worship, education, and healing a broken world through acts of chesed (kindness) and tikkun olam (repairing the world). Additionally, our rabbis and cantors each have discretionary funds used to assist the needy both within and outside our temple community.

I’m having a montage at the reception, can I bring it in early to test and be sure it runs smoothly?

Yes! One week before the reception, bring in your montage on a labeled flash drive format, .mov or .mp4 flash drive format. Our tech team will review the montage to be sure it is running smoothly.

If there is another B'nei Mitzvah ceremony booked on the same date, do you have enough available parking?

We have plenty of parking! In addition, we have an adjacent south lot to accommodate our parking needs. Our staff & security will know how to assist in guiding your guests with the parking lot locations.

What are ways my child can stay involved with Temple Judea after he/she becomes a B'nei mitzvah?

Since becoming a B'nei Mitzvah signifies your child’s connection & acceptance of responsibility to their community, your child can and should continue with 7th grade Religious School. Teens can also continue exploring their Jewish identity and education through our Jewish Teen Journeys program for 8-12th graders or through our Confirmation program.

Preparation Materials

Event Checklist

You Bring...

  • Torah portion and ALL Study Materials
  • D’var Torah speech and parents blessings
  • Tallit, Kippah, Yad/Torah pointer (if you have a special one for this occasion) *Many students make a special yad in Religious School, please feel free to use this)

Temple Judea provides...

  • Giant Aliyah blessing sheet for family members chanting the Torah blessing
  • Tallitot, kippot, yad/Torah pointer for attendees. Bar/Bat Mitzvah is welcome to use the Temple’s ritual objects, if they do not have a special one of their own.
  • With your permission, Temple Judea live streams each service at no charge to you. You will receive a link to share with any family member or guest who is unable to attend the ceremony, may click on this link to see your child become Bar or Bat Mitzvah. 
  • In addition, you will be provided another link to download a copy the video. 

Meet Our Team

Additional Contacts