Bar and Bat Mitzvah Program of Congregation Kol Ami
1. Children must be enrolled in Kol Ami religious school and families must be members for their children to become B’nai Mitzvah at Kol Ami.
2. B’nai Mitzvah ceremonies will take place only in the context of Shabbat morning worship at the community service of the congregation. While the family of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah may invite guests it is understood that this is not a private affair but worship open to the Congregation (At present the first Saturday of the month).
3. Dates will only be set in consultation with the Rabbi and the Executive Director.
4. Children must be at least 13 years old to become Bar or Bat Mitzvah in our congregation.
5. Because our Hebrew program only meets weekly, most children will require private tutoring. Kol Ami will help parents find an appropriate tutor for their child and the Rabbi or school principal will supervise the tutor in regards to curriculum and content for the child. It is suggested that tutoring begin at least a year and half prior to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony. It is suggested at the beginning to meet weekly and depending upon progress, a second tutoring session a week may be required. If your child has learning issues it might be recommended to begin earlier with private tutoring. It is the responsibility of the parent to pay the private tutor directly.
Two months prior to the Ceremony, the student will begin to meet weekly with the Rabbi for an additional session.
One month prior to the Ceremony the student will also meet weekly with the Cantor for an additional sessions.
6. On the Thursday afternoon prior to the Ceremony, the student will have a full dress rehearsal in the sanctuary with the Rabbi and the Cantor. The student should wear the clothes and especially the shoes he/she will wear at the ceremony. Generally this dress rehearsal is scheduled at 1:00pm. Yes, your child may need to miss school for this rehearsal. No exceptions will be made. Parents may attend. It is suggested that if you want formal pictures taken of the bar/bat mitzvah with the Torah, they be done on Thursday prior to the rehearsal. All arrangements must be cleared with the Executive Director.
7. Parents will have an opportunity to address their child during the tallit presentation at the beginning of the service. They may choose to give this honor to someone else i.e. grandparents, godparent, aunt, uncle, etc.
8. Additional honors: Families may want other people to participate in the ceremony that day. There are a number of non-speaking roles including ark openings, lifting and dressing the torah, and there are two aliyot (being called to the torah for a blessing) in addition to the one for the child. There is also the Torah passing ceremony—usually done generationally—grandparent, parent to B’nai mitzvah. If there are great-grandparents they should be included as well.
If another family member or friend is able to and prepares the Torah reading, additional aliyot can be read by guests or family members. But our regular standard is three aliyot including the bar/bat mitzvah.
There is also the motzi and kiddish following service.
Friday before the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Ceremony
9. There are some honors on Friday night prior to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah including ark openings, lifting and dressing the Torah, kiddish and motzi.
10. On the Friday night prior to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah, the student is expected to participate in services. The student and his/her parents will be called to light the Shabbat candles and recite the kiddish blessing. The student will lead the V’ahavta prayer and help in the Torah service by carrying the Torah scroll.
11. The Family of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah will sponsor the oneg at the Friday night service and the flowers for the Bima. If there are a lot of extra guests at Friday night specifically for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration additional Oneg sponsorship fees may apply. The family will make all of these arrangements with the Executive Director. Fees for all sponsorships are payable in advance and in full one week prior to the ceremony.
Saturday of Ceremony
12. The family of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah will sponsor the Kiddish following Saturday morning services. There are several options depending upon whether or not the family wishes to hold its luncheon/celebration at the temple. The family will make all of these arrangements with the Executive Director. Fees for all sponsorships are payable in advance and in full one week prior to the ceremony
13. We use Hebrew names to call people to bless the Torah scroll. A Hebrew name consists of the individuals name and their parents’ Hebrew names.
14. No flash photography may be taken during worship. Photographers may take photos without flash from a designated area as directed by the Rabbi or Executive Director
15. Video may be taken but only in a designated spot as directed by the Rabbi or Executive Director
16. Attire for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah must be appropriate. Boys should be in suit and tie with Kippah and tallit. Girls should be in dresses or nice pants suits with kippah and tallit. But caution should be taken that dresses are not too revealing or immodest and that heels should not be too high. This is a religious ceremony and clothing should reflect that ideal.
17. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah will sit on the Bima with the Cantor and Rabbi.
18. All Bar/Bat Mitzvah students must commit to a tzedakah/mitzvah project. These must be committed to and done in advance of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony. The project will be decided in conjunction and discussion with the Rabbi and parents. Some examples include tutoring younger children, collecting food for the hungry, working with the disabled, reading to the blind, collecting animal toys for guide dogs or animal shelters, collecting sports equipment and uniforms for underprivileged children.
19. It is highly recommended that parents try to bring their children to several Shabbat morning services prior to their Bar/Bat Mitzvah so they can begin to familiarize themselves with the service.
20. Each child will deliver a D’var Torah. A D’var Torah (literally a word of Torah) is a discussion of the issues in his/her torah portion, helping us to make sense of it. She/he will also explicate the Haftarah portion and if appropriate point out the link between the two. The student may also discuss what becoming a bar/bat mitzvah means. Appropriate thanks to parents, teachers, and tutors should also be included.
21. Each Bar/Bat Mitzvah student will be presented with gifts on that Shabbat by the Board, Men of Kol Ami and Women of Kol Ami.
22. We welcome the participation of non-Jewish family and friends. While there are some limitations, we very much want all of your guests to feel welcome.
Non-Jews may participate in certain portions of the ceremony. They may open the ark, help dress the Torah. They may accompany the Jewish parent for the Shabbat candle lighting but not recite the prayer. A non-Jewish parent or grandparent may participate in the passing of the Torah. But a non-Jewish parent may not be called to bless the Torah.
23. Younger sibling or children may be given age-appropriate honors such as helping to dress the Torah or opening the ark. Siblings may also help in leading the Motzi, blessing over the challah, at the conclusion of the Kiddish. Older siblings can be given an aliyah.
24. Students will be expected to lead at minimum the tallit blessing, Barechu, Shema, V’ahavta, Mi Camocha, Avot, Gevurot, (all chanted) as well as significant parts of the Torah service including the Torah blessings, Torah portion and Haftarah blessings and Haftarah portion. In addition there are a number of English passages and prayers lead by the student. There are several prayers that although the student does not have to lead them alone, they must demonstrate fluency in them.
25. Our congregation takes great pride in making every bar/bat mitzvah celebration special, even though the participation of each student is basically the same. There are occasions, however, when special circumstances necessitate an adjustment in the student’s participation. We will do everything possible to work with each student as an individual with the ultimate goal of maximizing his/ her self-esteem and sense of accomplishment.
26. There is a Bar/Bat Mitzvah fee of $1800 this covers the cost of materials, basic oneg and kiddish, and clergy time. This must be paid in advance. If you have many guests Friday night for oneg there is an additional food cost. If you want lunch or and extended kiddish on Saturday there are additional fees. There are additional fees for security on the day of the ceremony. If you are planning on lots of guests you may be requred to hire parking attendants or pay for extra adjacent parking.
27. On the day of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah, if there are special family member who are deceased but whom you wish to recall for Kaddish prayer, please give those names in advance to the Rabbi.
28. Services start promptly. We will not delay the start of services for any reason. If you are concerned about the arrival of your guests for either Friday evening services or Saturday morning services we suggest you put an earlier time on your invitations by at least 15 minutes.
29. While the Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony takes place in the Sanctuary it is important to focus on Jewish values throughout your celebration. Your later parties and celebrations should continue to reflect the sanctity of the day and the special nature of the religious ceremony that is the Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony.
30. Consider Jewish values in your decision-making. Link your theme to the Torah portion, provide opportunities for tzedakah during the course of the celebration. Check to see if leftover food can be donated to a shelter. Make a financial donation to the temple for something specific in honor of the Bat Mitzvah, (Dedicate prayerbooks, give a Torah scroll, books for the library, a scholarship to Religious School).
It is customary to make a donation to the Cantor’s Discretionary Fund and/or Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund.
In lieu of expensive floral centerpieces, perhaps have baskets of food that can be donated to the local food pantry like SOVA or includes a certificate of trees planted in Israel. SOVA L.A. 's kosher food pantry, has a wonderful centerpiece program called Baskets of Hope. You can arrange food basket centerpieces or bima arrangements that will complement your color scheme and is a mitzvah at the same time.
Be sure to include the Motzi and the Kiddish at your parties. (It is also a great way to continue to give out honors.) Begin with Havadalah, the ceremony that separates Shabbat from the start of the new week before a Saturday night event.
31. The Rabbi and the Cantor are happy to answer any other questions or concerns you may have. Feel free to email or call them at 323-606-0996, and set an appointment time to discuss with them.