a Bar and Bat Mitzvah Need to Know
by Rivka C. Berman
The congregation is not an audience. If worship is
a drama, the congregation is part of the cast. The audience is God, and God is a
very forgiving audience. - Rabbi Michael M. Remson
Bar and bat mitzvah celebrations evolved from nothing into a big deal. There is
no ritual that must be done to be considered an adult Jew in the eyes of halacha.
So preparation will vary according to the synagogues expectations and the bat
mitzvah kids wishes.
Here are some options. A bar or bat mitzvah may
Kriyat HaTorah: Read the Torah portion and honor
relatives and friends with an aliyah.
An aliyah. Say the blessings before and after the
A 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.
A haftarah reading: Chant blessings and the
(relatively short) portion of the Prophets that follows each weeks Torah
reading. The haftarah is read on Saturday morning and, in some congregations, on
A turn as shaliach tzibur: Lead the services or a
portion of them.
A Speech: Speak during or after the service.
Havdalah: Lead the havdalah service if the
celebration is held on Saturday evening as Shabbat ends.
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Bar & Bat Mitzvah Service