B’nai Mitzvah Program Timeline
4th Grade Year – Pick A B’nai Mitzvah Date
It’s hard to believe but we actually pick the date of your family’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah when your student is in fourth grade. See the Date Assignments page for more information.
6th Grade Year – Orientation
Your family will be invited by the Religious School to join a two-part orientation process to provide you, and your son or daughter, with an overview of the B’nai Mitzvah Program.
Experiencing Temple Jeremiah’s B’nai Mitzvah Service
Part of becoming Bar or Bat Mitzvah is being comfortable in a synagogue setting. It is difficult, at best, to ask people to lead a worship service that they are unfamiliar with as participants. For this reason, your family will also be asked to serve as ushers (at least one adult with each student) for two B’nai Mitzvah during the student’s 6th grade school year. The request to usher for these two services will come from Sarabeth Salzman, B’nai Mitzvah Coordinator, with a link to sign up through Sign Up Genius.
Seven Months Before the Bar/Bat Mitzvah
1) “Welcome to the Program” with Sarabeth Salzman
During this 30-45 minute conversation with your family Sarabeth will provide information on the upcoming months. Your son or daughter will receive a binder, specific to their Torah & Haftarah portion, to use throughout the program. During this meeting you have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have before tutoring begins. At least one parent needs to attend the meeting, along with the B’nai Mitzvah student.
2) Tikkun Olam Meeting with Rabbi Rachel Heaps
Rabbi Heaps will invite you to join her for a 30 minute discussion about your son’s or daughter’s Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) project, where you will discuss and develop the project based on personal interests or causes close to you. You will receive the invite about one month before the meeting date via e-mail from Jill Nutkis. Many students come in with a particular cause in mind; some are open to anything when they walk in the door. There is no right way – we help each student choose a project at which he or she can succeed. When we meet, we will utilize a number of resources to find the right cause and a mode of action that “fits” your child’s interests and passions. At least one parent needs to attend the meeting, along with the B’nai Mitzvah student.
Six Months Before
Tutoring Sessions (30 minutes per week at Temple Jeremiah) begin. Only the student is required to attend the tutoring sessions, though parents are welcome to join.
Around six and a half months prior to the Bar or Bat Mitzvah date, you will receive a call from one of our tutors to set up a regular meeting time with your son or daughter. The two of them will meet weekly for 30 minutes at Temple Jeremiah. During these sessions, he or she will briefly review the prayers and begin their focused study of the Torah and Haftarah portions.
Three Months Before
D’var Torah Meeting #1 (of 2) with Rabbi Cohen. This is a required one-hour meeting; both parents and student are requested to attend.
For writing the D’var Torah, you will be invited to two meetings. One meeting will be with Rabbi Cohen approximately three months before the Bar or Bat Mitzvah and a second meeting will be with Rabbi Heaps four or five weeks later.
You will receive a letter via email from Sarabeth Salzman with the dates and times for your meeting with Rabbi Cohen. During the meeting you will discuss the D’var Torah writing process and begin brainstorming ideas for your son or daughter’s specific portion. Prior to the meeting parents and student are asked to completely read through the portion (in English) and the handout called Teaching Torah (provided for you in the student binder). This meeting will provide each student with the tools (and inspiration) to begin writing.
Seven to Six Weeks Before
D’var Torah Meeting #2 (of 2) with Rabbi Heaps. This second required meeting, for both a parent and student, should take 45 minutes.
One week before the scheduled meeting with Rabbi Heaps your son or daughter will be asked to submit a draft of their D’var Torah attached as a Microsoft Word document.
During the meeting with Rabbi Heaps, feedback is provided on the D’var Torah, allowing each student to complete the final version. The final draft is re-sent to Rabbi Heaps for final approval and then it is ready to go! We recommend each student practice reading it out loud. Recording the talk with a video camera (or i-phone) allows them to play it back and see how it looks and sounds. Each student will also practice reading the D’var Torah from the bimah during their tutoring sessions with Adam or at the Bar or Bat Mitzvah rehearsal.
Five Weeks Before
Five weeks before becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, each student transitions from meeting with the tutor to meeting weekly with Adam Kahan. These sessions will also be once a week for 30 minutes at Temple Jeremiah and continue for four weeks. Sarabeth will work with you to schedule these sessions.
During this time frame, Sarabeth will work with your family to determine the specific individuals you want to call to the Bimah for different honors during the service. We have many opportunities for non-Jewish family and friends to participate as well.
Week of the Service- Rehearsal
The week of the B’nai Mitzvah, your family (parents and student) will be asked to join Adam for a rehearsal. The date and time for this will be sent to you via e-mail six weeks prior to the rehearsal date. If your child is being called to the Torah with another student, both families attend this rehearsal. Plan to spend 1.5 hours at the rehearsal to help everyone feel comfortable before the big day.
You will also have the opportunity to schedule a photo session at Temple Jeremiah, if you would like to have one.
One Week After the Service- Post B’nai Mitzvah Experience Discussion
Following your Bar or Bat Mitzvah we will schedule a time to meet for approximately 15-30 minutes. Sarabeth will ask you a few questions about the entire B’nai Mitzvah experience. This information is very useful to us in determining what works well and what might need adjusting. This meeting ideally takes place in person, but can also take place over Skype/FaceTime or by phone, if needed.
Register for 8th Grade/Pre-Confirmation
Your experience with Temple Jeremiah isn’t done! We look forward to your son’s or daughter’s Confirmation.