B'nei Mitzvah is one of the most celebrated Jewish milestones, but it is not a one-time event. It is a celebration of just one of the many significant moments along the path of one's Jewish journey. Learners on the journey are immersed in a sense of moral obligation toward all people, of being an integral member of the Jewish people, of being loved and cherished by one's clergy and educator, of answering the call to participate with "Hineini – Here I Am", and of having a place of leadership within the Jewish community, well beyond B'nei Mitzvah. Temple Beth Sholom values the individual lives and souls of each of our students, our learners. We honor and care about the dreams and aspirations that each student and his or her family brings to the process. We value the Jewish tradition of immersion in the core mitzvot that signify a Jew's coming of age, including lifelong learning, engagement in the wider community and being a partner in making Temple Beth Sholom a "Kehilah Kedosha", a holy community.
Bar Mitzvah, in its limited sense, means the ceremony of the acceptance of mitzvot; in its fuller meaning it refers to the person, a Jew who has reached the age of thirteen and is, therefore, under the obligation to perform the mitzvot. A Bar Mitzvah, then, is a person with a lifelong religious responsibility. The Bar Mitzvah ritual marks the occasion when public notice is given of the boy's attainment of this status.
Historically, girls have not had the same opportunities to publicly celebrate religious rites as have boys. Until recent times women were not allowed to chant Torah or lead services.
Now, girls and boys are treated equally; and as in most Reform and Conservative synagogues, they are recognized at age 13.
During the Bar/Bat Mitzvah ritual, the young person leads the service, recites a blessing at the reading of the Torah (aliyah), reads from the Torah and from the prophets (haftara), and delivers a D'var Torah (teaching about the portion). These rights are earned through adequate preparation. What must be kept in mind is that one does not prepare just for the one day, but for full participation in the responsibilities and privileges of Jewish life for a lifetime.
For more detailed information, click here to read and/or download our Bar/Bat Mitzvah Guide.