We also believe there is more than one way to do this. We work with each family to tailor one of several pathways to a joyous Bar/Bat Mitzvah with Kol Emeth. In each of these pathways our students study 1-on-1 with our beloved B’nai Mitzvah director, Jeff Schwarz, and with our Rabbis.
At Kol Emeth, the preparations for this special time begin midway through the fifth grade year with a fun kickoff luncheon. Dates are selected in the spring of fifth grade. In sixth grade, students and parents attend a series of family classes on Shabbat, culminating in a fun and festive session of learning (and cake) on Shavuot! During the 7th grade year, students take part in a Tefillin Brunch, as they continue closely working with our Rabbis and Educators.
Giving back to the community is another important step in the process, and students will complete a “Mitzvah Project” as part of their Bar or Bat Mitzvah journey. Students gain skills and self-confidence, as well as a comfort with and knowledge of prayer skills and Jewish tradition.
Please note that synagogue membership is required to begin the Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation process. We welcome your family!
Kol Emeth strives particularly to honor these four values in the Bar and Bat Mitzvah experience:
- Jewish Learning. The Rabbis teach that learning is greater than all the other commandments or mitzvot put together because it leads to the others. Learning has the ability to change us and help us grow. Jewish learning teaches about culture and language especially, and also about bringing out the best in ourselves. Kol Emeth feels strongly that Jewish learning is a key value in the years leading up to Bar and Bat Mitzvah.
- Jewish Prayer. Prayer is the means by which we express ourselves as spiritual beings to the Holy-One-Blessed-Be-God. It is also the set of skills necessary for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah service. For both of these reasons, attending and participating in Shabbat, holiday, and weekday services is a second key value.
- Jewish Community. All Jews are responsible for one another, says our tradition. There is a strength gained from creating Jewish connections and friends. Part of the goal of the Bar and Bat Mitzvah program is to help families and students make for themselves a home in the Jewish community that is Kol Emeth. For this reason, our policy is that everyone from each Bar and Bat Mitzvah class is invited to the Shabbat morning service, and we encourage people to invite the entire class to their party. If for some reason they cannot, we ask that people make distinctions that are clear and respectful, such as only the boys, or only religious school enrolled students. Our program includes several experiences designed to build connections between families, and to foster families’ connections with the broader, multi-generational Kol Emeth community. Additionally, as part of Kol Emeth’s mission to be welcoming to all, Shabbat Kiddush lunches include all attendees at services.
- Mitzvah practice. A Bar or Bat Mitzvah is an opportunity to engage mitzvot in a new way. Mitzvot are sometimes translated as commandments. They are also seen as connections. Mitzvot are the practices in the world that clothe our values. Bar and Bat Mitzvah, and the entry into adolescence, is a key moment to explore values and to find ways of clothing them in action. As a result, we invite families to explore their own relation to mitzvot – in the home, at Kol Emeth, and in the wider community. As a part of this conversation, we also ask our students to take stock of their own blessings and to find a way of sharing those blessings with others in a volunteer project on a scale of about 20 hours.
TOUCHPOINTS OF B’NAI MITZVAH PREPARATION
- 5th Grade: Shabbat afternoon B’nai Mitzvah Family Orientation; submit date request forms; family meeting with Rabbi Booth or Rabbi Graff
- 6th Grade: Formal group orientation with Elaine, Jeff and our Rabbis; fulfill Mitzvah projects, pre-B’nai Mitzvah Family class (4-5 sessions during Kol Shabbat, marked on calendar in spring), Erev Shavuot Family Torah Encounter
- 7th Grade: 6 months private tutoring with Jeff; meet with Elaine 6 months in advance regarding Saturday Kiddush lunch; tefillin workshop and brunch; work with Rabbi Booth or Rabbi Graff on D’var Torah; support classmates as they become B’nai Mitzvah
B’nai Mitzvah Materials:
- B’nai Mitzvah Manual (2017)
- Family B’nai Mitzvah Covenant (2017)
- Bar/Bat Mitzvah Date Preference Form
- Mitzvah Project Letter to 6th Grader and Family
- Mitzvah Projects
- Mitzvah Projects form
Additional B’nai Mitzvah Resources:
- Kiddush Form (.doc)
- Shabbat Challah Plate Colors (.pdf)
- Template-Blank B’nai Mitzvah Program Pamphlet (.pdf)
- Template-Blank B’nai Mitzvah Program Pamphlet (.doc)
- If you wish to view a few B’Nai Mitzvah program samples, please let us know, we will be happy to share a few we have saved over the years.
- Candy Throwing Guidelines
If you have any questions about the Bar or Bat Mitzvah Process, Please Contact Us!