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Bar/Bat Mitzvah

Becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah is an exciting time for a child and family.  We at Beth Emeth strive to make the process meaningful and fun.  Bar/Bat Mitzvah dates are assigned at the end of your child's fifth-grade year.  If your child begins Religious School after that time, don't worry, a date will be available for him/her.  Approximately 9-12 months prior to your child's date, you will be notified that your child will be working with Cantor Kohn to begin their preparation.  B'nai Mitzvah classes are held on Wednesday afternoons (when most of our b'nai mitzvah candidates are already here attending religious school).  Every child will be given plenty of preparation time in a friendly study group setting with the Cantor and other Bar/Bat students.  We provide materials that lay out all of the requirements in a clear and easy to follow manual and the use of MP3 files to assist in studying so that our students are able to chant their way through the prayers and Torah portions with great fluency.

In addition, students will be meeting with Rabbi Shpeen to discuss their d'var torah (sermon); and with Shara Siegfeld to plan/discuss their Mitzvah Project.  The details for the entire Bar/Bat Mitzvah process are in our comprehensive manual - CLICK HERE.

The Bar/Bat Mitzvah experience is an important milestone for your child and family and it also can be the cause of sress for an almost 13-year-old.  Through our well-organized program and caring staff, our program is designed to address students' needs so that they can achieve their personal potential.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact Cantor Kohn.

Literally Bar Mitzvah means “son of the commandment” and Bat Mitzvah means “daughter of the commandment.”

Jewish law does not require children to follow the commandments, though they are encouraged to do so. At the age of thirteen children become obligated to fulfill the mitzvot. Bar and Bat Mitzvah is not an event, rather it is a change in status. While we may perceive thirteen to be in the midst of childhood, Jewish law allows B’nai Mitzvah (plural of Bar or Bat Mitzvah) to count in a minyan (the minimum number of people necessary for some religious practices), to form binding contracts and to serve as a witness in religious courts.

A young person becomes Bar or Bat Mitzvah at their birthday; no ceremony is needed to confer adulthood. The celebration of Bar Mitzvah (the first Bat Mitzvah did not occur until 1922) is fairly recent in Jewish history, dating back only five centuries. To show a community that a young man was now legally an adult, he would be called to recite the blessing before and after the reading of the Torah, a mitzvah and privilege reserved for adults. Over time, the ceremony was expanded to include the reading of the Haftarah. Because certain Hebrew and liturgical skills were required for this, the connection between Bar Mitzvah and Jewish education arose.

Today it is the educational aspect, rather than reaching the age of majority, which is emphasized. At Congregation Beth Emeth, B’nai Mitzvah demonstrate their ability to lead services, read Torah, participate in Tikkun Olam and social action projects as well as teach the community.

Bar or Bat Mitzvah is not the endpoint of Jewish Education. We are all obligated to continue the study of Torah and the fulfillment of righteous deeds throughout our lives. B’nai Mitzvah celebrate their change in status and honor their new responsibility not only on the day of their ceremony but through ongoing commitments to our tradition and community.


At the Friday evening service of your Shabbat, your child will be invited to light the Shabbat candles and recite the  Kiddush blessings.  At the Saturday morning service, your child will be leading the congregation in prayer, teaching and finally reciting the Torah and Haftarah portions.

We encourage you to use our beautiful temple facilities for your Saturday luncheon or celebration.  Contact
Kathy Golderman to secure the space.


The Art of Torah Cantillation – A Step-by-Step Guide to Chanting Torah by Cantor Marshall Portnoy and Cantor Josee Wolff

This unique, step-by-step book and compact disc package will lead the novice through each step of learning how to chant Torah. Divided into 13 lessons and additional useful appendices and bibliography, the book allows the reader to ‘self-teach’ the important principles of Torah cantillation. The only pre-requisite for this course of learning is a basic ability to read Hebrew and a willingness to learn! Includes CD of corresponding recordings.

Making it Count: Guidelines for Becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah

This guide is designed to help you make the most of your Jewish journey. Focusing on the values that are most important in our tradition, you will explore together what commitments you can make to bring these principles to life. Judaism has a lot of special wisdom to offer, but only you can make it real.

Wed, May 18 2022 17 Iyar 5782