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The Congregation B’nai B’rith Philosophy of Bar/Bat Mitzvah

Bar or Bat Mitzvah means literally “Son or Daughter of Commandment”, in other words, “a Jew subject to obligation and responsibility.”  At age thirteen, Judaism teaches, a person is old enough to understand the difference between right and wrong, and can be held accountable for his/her decisions.  We expect a great deal of our teenagers and joyously welcome you into our congregation as an adult member, teacher and leader.

The Bat/Bar Mitzvah ceremony allows family and friends to come together to celebrate a Jewish child’s “coming of age.”  We welcome the young person into the community of adult Jews by allowing them to lead our Shabbat worship, to chant from the Torah, and to assume the role of teacher, interpreting their Torah portion and posing questions to the congregation for a brief discussion.

To be meaningful, the Bat/Bar Mitzvah ritual must take place within a three-fold context:

A strong Jewish home environment

A deep sense of comfort and familiarity with the synagogue

A growing sense of belonging to the Jewish people

All three elements of this context begin forming as soon as a child is born, and continue throughout his or her life.  However, the year before a child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah is often a time when the entire family enters into a deeper relationship with Jewish tradition and community. We, the clergy and leadership of CBB, hope that this will be true for your family and we are committed to working closely with you toward that end.

Cantor Mark Childs will personally ensure that the Bar/Bat Mitzvah student is fully prepared to lead the congregation in worship and to chant his/her Torah and Haftarah portions.

Our teachers will work with the student on their d’var Torah, a teaching opportunity for the student to explore their Torah portion, help them find the questions that interest them, and guide them to craft a message that conveys some key points of the portion, and relates it to our lives today.

Rabbi Daniel Brenner will meet with the student and his/her parents together for a series of honest (and non-judgmental) conversations about the Jewish context: home, synagogue, and people…and to discuss the student’s Jewish education and participation beyond Bat or Bar Mitzvah.

We urge each of our Bar/Bat Mitzvah families to make a whole-hearted commitment to this process.  Set aside time for a family Shabbat dinner on Friday nights. Come to Shabbat morning services as often as a family.  Take on a family social action project (e.g. helping serve dinner at Transition House).  These efforts will give the Bar/Bat Mitzvah experience lasting meaning.

We hope that the time of your child’s Bar or/Bat Mitzvah can be a time for the whole family to ask new questions, learn together and reawaken a sense of what it means to be Jewish, with a brand new official member!