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Ceremonial Rituals at the Synagogue
Orthodox Perspective by Rivka C. Berman

Synagogue Services Appropriate for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah

If you haven’t done the advance work, don’t panic. Just about any service when the Torah is read is appropriate for a bar mitzvah. Shabbat morning is the most common choice; the Torah is always read at this service. The Torah is read on Monday and Thursday mornings too. Special Torah readings are set for Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of each Jewish month, all of Chanukah, Passover, Sukkot, and Shavuout. Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur feature Torah readings as well.

Certain readings carry special obligations and generally will not be offered to bar mitzvah boys. These included the maftir of Parshat Zachor, Parshat Parah, the reading on the seventh day of Pesach, on Shavuout, or on Shabbat Shuva. (Kitov, 228)

What a Bar/Bat Mitzvah Needs to Know
In the past, the bar mitzvah celebration was marked by thirteen year old boy beginning his life long commitment of donning teffilin each weekday morning and Aliya during the reading of the weekly portion at the synagogue on the first Shabbat after the thirteenth birthday.  But these days a young man turning thirteen often partakes in many of the synagogue rituals.  Though there is no ritual that must be done to be considered an adult Jew in the eyes of halacha, any combination of the following ceremonial services. An undertaking dependent on the synagogue’s expectations and the bar mitzvah boy’s wishes. (The orthodox Bat Mitzvah girl does not participate in the synagogue prayer rituals.) 

s Kriyat HaTorah: Read the Torah portion and honor relatives and friends with an aliyah.
s Aliyah. Say the blessings before and after the Torah reading.
s Maftir aliyah plus haftarah: Get called up for the final aliyah and then read the section from the Prophets that is matched to each weekly portion. In some Sephardic communities, a bar mitzvah boy is honored with the fifth or sixth aliyah – not the maftir or haftarah.
s Haftarah: Chant blessings and the (relatively short) portion of the Prophets that follows each week’s Torah reading. The haftarah follows Shabbat and holiday morning Torah readings. If the bar mitzvah is held before a boy’s thirteenth birthday, this may be the only reading option open to him. Aliyot are mitzvot from Moses and may be fulfilled by adults only. Haftorah reading is a rabbinic enactment with less restrictions placed on who may read them. (Kitov, 228)
s Shaliach tzibur: Lead the services or a portion of them.
s A Speech: Deliver a Torah thought at an appointed time during or after the service.

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Why are the Bat and Bar Mitzvah Celebrated at Ages Twelve and Thirteen
• Post Bar Mitzvah Privileges (When Boy Reaches 13 Years of Age)
• Evolution of the Bar Mitzvah over the years
Evolution of the Bat Mitzvah over the years
• Is a formal celebration of a Bar MItzvah or Bat MItzvah required by Jewish law?
Settings for the Celebration of a Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah
Setting a Date for the Celebration of a Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah

• Bar Mitzvah Services and Ceremonial Rituals at the Synagogue
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• Getting Ready for the Bar Mitzvah - The Tefillin, Phylacteries
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Getting Ready for the Bar Mitzvah - Reading Hebrew & Torah Reading
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• The Bar and Bat Mitzvah Service: Instructional Booklets and Schedules
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Bar & Bat Mitzvah
Orthodox Perspective

• Bar Mitzvah Services and Ceremonial Rituals at the Synagogue

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