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Bar/Bat/B'nei Mitzvah Planning Guidelines and Logistics

Updated May 2022

Mazel Tov! We are so excited to celebrate your family’s upcoming bar/bat/b’nei Mitzvah with you. With so many aspects of our lives and celebrations up in the air due to the pandemic, we are doing all we can to prepare for a smooth and meaningful service for your child, family and community as pandemic restrictions change. The following guidelines and logistics will help make your experience go smoothly and allow you to enjoy your service to the fullest.

 
Logistics for Friday Evening and Saturday Morning Services
Friday Evening Service
  • You will be invited to participate in the Friday evening service the night before your Saturday morning service. Please arrive by 6:15pm to get settled before the service begins. 

  • During an in-person service, your family will be invited to light the candles on the Bima and the Cantor will lead the blessing. Then the b’nei mitzvah student will lead kiddush. 

  • We will invite your family to join us in the blessing over the challah at the very end of the service after the closing song.
Temple Sinai B’nei Mitzvah Service Prayer Sheet

Printed copies of the Temple Sinai Zoom B’nei Mitzvah Service Prayer Sheet will be placed in the Sanctuary for your use (please specify your number of guests: betsy@oaklandsinai.org). Your student will lead the service from the Leader Version of this handout, which you can access on the b’nei mitzvah page of our website.

 
Email Service and Program to Your Guests

Please email to the guests who will be joining you for the service on Zoom:

1) Your child’s bar/bat/b’nei mitzvah program; and

2) The Temple Sinai B’nei Mitzvah Service Prayer Book

Betsy will contact you to request your content for the program. We will print copies of your child’s program for you and your in-person guests. We recommend emailing the digital program, service prayer sheet documents and the Zoom link to Zoom guests a day or two before the service. This ensures that the email will be easier for your guests to find. Please ask your Zoom guests to print out the documents before the service so that they can refer to them during the service.

 
The following is a list of ritual items you will need for the service:

1. The printed Temple Sinai B’nei Mitzvah Service Prayer Book

2. Student's Tallit

3. Your child’s Torah portion and the Torah blessings

4. Haftarah portion and the Haftarah blessings

5. Your child’s d’rash (speech)

6. Carnations to throw at the student at the end of the service when we sing Siman Tov (optional).

 
In-Person Services

The following reflects our current Covid protocols. If the pandemic requires that we reinstate stricter protocols, we will inform you immediately. Please keep in mind that the situation could change, and we can’t provide any guarantees for the use of the Sanctuary for your service. 

As of May, 2022, here’s what we can offer:

 
Use of Sanctuary

Families may hold their b’nei mitzvah services in the Sanctuary with the following conditions:

1) Until the dome is repaired, if there is a leak in the Sanctuary, the service will be moved to Albers Chapel (with 90 chairs/guests) with overflow seating in the Sacred Garden and/or Stern Hall. If there is a kiddush luncheon set up in either overflow space, people will sit at luncheon tables during the service.

2) If there is a problem with sound in the Sanctuary, or any other structural issue, the service will be moved to Albers Chapel (with 90 chairs/guests) with overflow seating in the Sacred Garden and/or Stern Hall.

 
Kiddush Luncheons

1) There is no restriction on the number of guests who can attend kiddush luncheons.

2) Guests are no longer required to be seated while eating/drinking.

We continue to use the b’nei mitzvah program (more info below) and service prayer sheets (more info below) that we developed in 2020 during the pandemic. You can find samples of each of the above on the B’nei Mitzvah page of our website. Please review our parameters as described in the Protocols for In-Person B'nei Mitzvah.

 
Parents’ Blessing (Speech)

Our service opens with a song and then some words from the student’s parents. We would like for your speech to include an initial welcome to everyone in person and on the Zoom, and then for you to give a special blessing to your child. This is not intended to be a description of who your child is. Rather, it should say something to them about why this milestone is important to you, and what you hope it means to your child. It is usually about 200 words per parent. You can read a sample of a parent’s blessing here.

 
Talitot

After the parents’ blessing is shared, the parents will present a tallit to the student. You can order one online, contact the Women of Temple Sinai to view their collection, or use a family tallit.

 
Family and Friend Participation

One of the highest honors in the service is reciting the Torah blessings. The full Torah portion your child will read will be broken into smaller pieces, called aliyot. Before and after each of these, a blessing will be said. The number of aliyot each student chants is determined by your child’s study with the Cantor. There must be at least one Jewish person in every group of people reciting a Torah blessing and all must be 13 or over. You can find the text of the blessing on the b’nei mitzvah page of our website and hear a recording for the Blessing Before the Torah reading here or the Blessing After the Torah reading here.

Blessing for grandparents and parents to lead
L’dor Vador: Passing Torah From Generation to Generation May all the gifts hidden inside you find their way into the world, May all the kindness of your thoughts be expressed in you deeds, May all your learning lead to wisdom, May all your efforts lead to success, May all the love in your heart be returned to you, May God bless your body with health and your soul with joy, May God watch over you night and day and protect you from harm, May all your prayers be answered. Amen.

As we have received Torah from those who came before us, so do we pass Torah to you today.

Please discuss other honors with your officiating Rabbi.

 
Ark Opening/Closing

Two people are needed to open the ark and two people to close the ark. They can be the same people or different people.

 
Torah Passing

The Torah passing can be either be passed physically or verbally. Generally, we pass it physically in person, and verbally, if not all generations are present in person. Our service includes specific language for each generation to read. Jewish grandparents and all parents participate in the Torah passing.

 
Program

The program will include a list of those participating, thank you messages from the bar/bat/b’nei mitzvah, and a 100-word welcome that may include a brief introduction of your child. It can be descriptive of who they are and the kinds of things they do, like, and care about. You can see a samples of Bar and Bat Mitzvah programs on the b’nei mitzvah page of our website. Your child’s program will be printed (please indicate to Betsy, betsy@oaklandsinai.org, the number of copies needed) and placed in the Sanctuary for your service.

 
Kiddush Cup

Your child’s personalized Kiddush cup will be filled with juice and placed in the Sanctuary before your Saturday service.

 
Service Prayer Sheets

There is a Leader’s Edition of the service that the bat/bar/b’nei mitzvah will use to lead, and a Shabbat Service prayer sheet, both on the b’nei mitzvah page of our website, that you can share with friends and family in either digital or printed form.

 
Rehearsals

There will be two rehearsals, one with each of the rabbis. If you don’t already have rehearsals scheduled, Betsy (betsy@oaklandsinai.org) will be in touch to schedule them. We ask that parents attend the final rehearsal. Parents are welcome but not required at the first rehearsal.

 
Service Zoom Link

We will email a Zoom link for your service if you expect to have guests who cannot attend in person. We will also email a link to the digital program and the digital prayer sheet as attachments, in advance of your service. You can forward them to your guests at that time. In general, we have found that sending Zoom links close to the time of the gathering works best for enabling people to find it.

 
Motzi

Younger siblings or younger cousins will be asked to help lead the Motzi.

 

If you have any questions, please contact Betsy Bigelow-Teller at betsy@oaklandsinai.org, or one of the clergy. We look forward to a joyful and meaningful simcha with you. 

Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin
Cantor Ilene Keys
Rabbi Daniel Freedman

Wed, September 28 2022 3 Tishrei 5783