BAR/BAT MITZVAH AT SHIR AMI
At Shir Ami, Bar/Bat Mitzvah is celebrated by participating in Shabbat worship, by reading and interpreting Torah and by assisting in the leading of the service. In truth, however, it is even more than this. At Shir Ami, when a young Jew becomes Bar/Bat Mitzvah, it is a public statement that represents:
- an elementary knowledge of Hebrew and Jewish studies;
- a commitment to seek a more mature understanding of Jewish history, customs, ethics, and theology at least through Confirmation;
- acceptance of moral responsibility for individual actions;
- acceptance of the necessity of deepening and enriching one's Jewish identity;
- a commitment to tzedakah.
THE MEANING AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF BAR/BAT MITZVAH
Bar/Bat Mitzvah and its attendant period of preparation constitute an important experience in the life of a young Jewish man or woman. At the same time, Bar/Bat Mitzvah is only a stepping-stone in his or her Jewish educational and religious growth, and not the culmination or end-point of the learning process.
When parents bring their son or daughter to the Bimah for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony, it should be with the clear understanding that the first commitment arising out of the occasion is the continuation of their child's Jewish education in our Religious School at least through Confirmation. B'nai Mitzvah at Shir Ami are expected to make that commitment in their Bar/Bat Mitzvah speech at the service Shabbat morning.
NOT AN ENDING BUT A BEGINNING
Bar/Bat Mitzvah is not a culmination but a beginning -- the opening of the door toward a more mature understanding and appreciation of Judaism as a way of life. There are a great many ways in which this more mature understanding may be expressed, such as:
- the translating of ethical principles into moral actions, consonant with the great teachings of our Jewish tradition;
- reading and discussing writings of Jewish interest and relevance;
- the celebration of Jewish holidays in a spirit of respect and joy;
- the observance of Shabbat as a time of rest and refreshment, of quiet study and family sharing;
- the study of our tradition, customs and beliefs in an effort to deepen our Jewish identity and commitment
REQUIREMENTS FOR BAR/BAT MITZVAH
The Ritual Committee and Board of Directors of Shir Ami have set the following requirements for all Bar/Bat Mitzvah students:
- Four years of religious education at Shir Ami or comparable training as determined by the Clergy. The year leading up to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah the student must be in our Shir Ami Religious School
- Parents must be members in good standing in a congregation for a minimum of 4 years, at least in the year immediately prior to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah at Shir Ami.
- Students must be in good standing in our Religious School with regard to maintaining regular attendance, completion of assignments, etc. If this is not the case, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah student must satisfactorily complete assignments to make up work missed.
- Attendance at a minimum of ten (10) Shabbat morning services at Shir Ami during the period of training prior to his or her Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
- Minimum requirements for service participation are:Torah and Haftarah blessings
- 8 verses of Torah read from the Torah scroll
- 5 verses of Haftarah
- 5 major prayers from the Shabbat service
- blessing over the wine
- blessing over the challah
- blessing over the candles.
- Each Bar/Bat Mitzvah will prepare a D'var Torah (speech), which displays serious study of the issues raised by the weekly Torah portion.
- Candidates for Bar/Bat Mitzvah must be 13 years of age or older according to the English calendar.
- Parents of students with learning disabilities are asked to consult with the Cantor in order to determine whether an individualized course of study will be necessary.
- There is no difference in requirements for a Bar Mitzvah and a Bat Mitzvah.
- Candidates for Bar/Bat Mitzvah are required to commit themselves to continued study in our Religious School at least through Confirmation and must make that commitment in the D'var Torah they deliver in the service.
- Jewish and non-Jewish parents and family members are warmly invited to participate. There are many honors available in the service; candles, kiddush, passing the Torah, parents blessings,
Aliyot. Suitable honors for all family members will be arranged with the Cantor and Rabbi.