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Bar/Bat/B'nei Mitzvah FAQ

Updated January, 2023
What does the B’nei Mitzvah fee cover?

The B’nei Mitzvah fee is $1420. The fee covers tutoring, prayer books, Torah booklets, printed materials, use of Stern Hall for the kiddush luncheon, and all administrative oversight. The fee is subject to change to adjust for increased costs. If the fee is a financial hardship to pay all at once, it may be spread out over time by contacting our Business Manager, Rhonda Hartman at The fee does not cover custom event costs such as room rentals, food, linens, flowers, etc. Please contact the Administrative Coordinator at, (510) 451-3263 about 9 months before your event to discuss options.

When should my child attend Religious School?

B’nei Mitzvah students must be registered for the full year of religious school at the time you schedule your Bar/Bat/B’nei Mitzvah date and must maintain attendance during the years leading up to and including the full year of the Bar/Bat/B’nei Mitzvah ceremony.

What do we do on Friday night?

It is traditional for the family to attend the Friday evening service the night before the Saturday B’nei Mitzvah. B’nei Mitzvah families are asked to arrive at 6:15pm for the 6:30pm service start.

During the Friday night service, the family will light the shabbat candles and the student with lead the Friday night kiddish. At the end of the service, the family will be invited to lead motzi for the congregation.

Sponsoring Friday Evening Oneg

It is customary for the B’nei Mitzvah family to sponsor the Oneg following the Friday evening service. The B’nei Mitzvah family is asked to provide Oneg treats (fruit, cheese, crackers, pastries/cookies) for up to 50 people on Friday night regardless of how many congregants are expected/attend. If the family wishes, the Temple will take care of providing the Oneg for a fee of $200. Temple provides challah and grape juice for the bimah, as well as food, napkins and plates for the Oneg. Temple also provides tables, chairs, coffee & tea (includes cups, tea, coffee, sweetener and powdered creamer). 

If you agree to sponsor the Oneg, Rhonda, our business manager, will invoice you in the amount of $200 to cover the cost. If this presents a hardship, please contact Rhonda at  If we do not hear from you about your Oneg plans by 30 days before your/your child's service, Rhonda will send you an invoice. She can always void the invoice if you decide to provide the Oneg yourself/with friends.

What is the timing for the Saturday service and kiddush luncheon?

The service begins at 10:30am. You may enter the building as early as 9:00am to take photos.
Please coordinate in advance with Rizwan Mir, Facilities Manager,

The Shabbat morning service concludes with the blessing over the grape juice and challah at about 11:45am. The kiddush luncheon begins at the conclusion of the service.

What tech support is available? Who will manage the Zoom?

Clergy will host the Zoom, and a Zoom link will be provided by the Temple to the family. The family must bring a laptop, tablet, or phone to use as a camera for the student during the service. Please be sure to bring power cords for your device as well. For any other tech questions, please contact your officiating rabbi: Rabbi Mates-Muchin, Rabbi Bressler or Rabbi Freedman.

Can we take photos or video of the service? Can we have a slideshow?

Photography and videography are freely allowed Albers Chapel from 9:00am until 10:15am on the morning of the Saturday service. During the service, photographers and videographers are welcome but are restricted to the back half of the Chapel. The cameras must be stationary, either hand-held or on a tripod and cannot move during the service. There must be no clicks or flashes. Only the designated photographer is allowed, and s/he cannot have a role in the service. Photographers and videographers must be as inconspicuous as possible. Please speak with the clergy if you have questions. Temple Sinai does NOT provide video recordings of services. You are welcome to have a slideshow during your kiddush luncheon at temple. We typically recommend starting the slideshow in Stern Hall once guests have served themselves from the buffet and are seated.

Can our friends and family participate in the service?

You can invite friends and family members to recite the Torah blessings during the reading of the Torah. The full portion your child will read will be broken into smaller pieces, called aliyot. Before and after each aliyot, a blessing will be said. How many individuals or groups needed to fulfill this honor depends on the number of aliyot your child is reading, and that is determined by your childs study with the Cantor. 

Can non-Jews participate in the service?

Yes! Non-Jewish friends and family can open/close the ark, and do an English reading. For Torah blessings, there must be at least one Jewish person over the age of 13 saying the blessing. Non-Jewish family members can join in. Non-Jewish parents of the student always participate in the passing of Torah from one generation to the next. The rabbi will review this with you during your family meeting/rehearsals.

What is the Parent’s Blessing? What is it not?

This is a time for the parent(s) to kvell over their child reaching this milestone. Ask yourself what significance this event has for you, your family, your child and your community. What path has your family taken to get to this point? What are your hopes for your child in terms of Judaism, Judaic values and community?

This is not a forum to review all of your child’s accomplishments since birth! It’s an invaluable opportunity to bless your child in a specific context — of him or her becoming a Jewish adult member in the lineages of Temple Sinai, Judaism and the world. There are sample blessings on our website. Whether one person or two people are speaking, your blessing should be no longer than three minutes or 200 words. Practice reading your blessing aloud to know its true length.

Why do we throw flowers at a Bar/Bat/B’nei Mitzvah?

The tradition of throwing flowers is an update of the tradition of throwing candy at the Bar/Bat/B’nei Mitzvah child. It is symbolic of a sweet transition into Jewish adulthood and the sweetness of the new obligations of the mitzvot that come with it. The safer method — carnation heads — delivers the message just as well. 2-4 friends to pass out carnations is adequate. We recommend about 100 carnation heads.

This is a tradition and is not embedded into the service. It is completely optional. Please assign family members or friends to pick up the carnations at the close of the service.

Can we throw candy instead of flowers?

No. Temple Sinai only allows carnation heads to be thrown. The temple altered this tradition for both the safety of the child and the sanctity and cleanliness of our Sanctuary/Chapel

Should we invite our child’s religious school classmates?

The Bar/Bat/B’nei Mitzvah is a great individual and family milestone, one that the family understandably wants to share with extended family and friends. It is also a meaningful event for the temple community. Religious school staff works hard to cultivate community, especially within the 7th grade program when all the kids attend on Sunday afternoons.

To support an inclusive and supportive community where all students feel valued and cared for, we ask that you invite your child’s class to the service and celebration. This is usually about a third of the seventh-grade class. Gifts are not necessary — being at the service and celebration are gift enough. If you feel inclined to give a gift, consider a donation to the temple or a cause the temple supports or an outside non-profit. Of course, this is a personal decision.

Additional questions? Contact the clergy or the Administrative Coordinator:,
(510) 451-3263, x301

We look forward to celebrating this simcha with you!


Mon, February 6 2023 15 Sh'vat 5783