For a child:
Training begins at or beyond age 12. B’nei mitzvah are not scheduled before a child’s 13th birthday.
With or without a ceremony, Jewish boys and girls become bar/bat mitzvah (son/daughter of the commandments) when they attain the age of 13 in liberal Jewish communities. However, we all want our children to demonstrate their learning, their commitment, and their love of Judaism. This is what a bar/bat mitzvah ritual ceremony provides. The child stands before his/her community and reassures us all, through his/her mastery of text and tradition, that Judaism is in good hands and that this young adult will mature into a man or woman who values his/her heritage.
Preparing for a bar/bat mitzvah at NefeshSoul requires learning and commitment. Each child must demonstrate age-appropriate understanding and knowledge of Jewish holidays, life cycle events, Jewish history, Torah, Hebrew decoding, the Shabbat prayer service. This can be accomplished through at least two years of study at another synagogue (with evaluation by Rabbi Susan), or by attending NefeshSoul’s religious studies program for two years. Basic Jewish literacy is a core requirement. Once the student has demonstrated the above knowledge, preparation for the bar/bat mitzvah service begins. Actual training for the bar/bat mitzvah takes 8-12 months. The training will prepare the child to do the following:
- The bar/bat mitzvah student will lead prayers from the Shabbat and bar/bat mitzvah service in Hebrew (either Friday or Saturday depending on the family’s wishes and the NefeshSoul Shabbat service schedule.)
- The bar/bat mitzvah student will chant or read 6-10 verses from the Torah in Hebrew.
- The bar/bat mitzvah student will write, rehearse, and deliver a five minute speech related to the Torah portion.
- The bar/bat mitzvah student will participate in a mitzvah project of his/her choosing which involves at least ten hours.
- The bar/mitzvah student will attend monthly Shabbat or other Jewish services at NefeshSoul or elsewhere.
- The family will provide wine, challah, and either an oneg (on a Friday night) or a kiddush lunch (on a Saturday morning) for the congregation. It is a celebration for all!
Payment to Rabbi Susan and to NefeshSoul for b’nei mitzvah training and ceremony is discussed at the initial contact. 60% is due at the first training session. Full payment is due two months before the ceremony. Prorated refunds are available if plans change prior to two months before the ceremony.
To discuss further with Rabbi Susan, please contact her.
For an Adult
Adults decide to prepare for a bar/bat mitzvah ceremony for several reasons. Perhaps they are part of a generation in which women were not given the option. Or, perhaps they have converted as adults and this is the next natural step in their learning and commitment to Judaism. Or, perhaps the childhood bar/bat mitzvah was not as meaningful as it might have been and the adult wants to celebrate a different sort of coming-of-age. Whatever the reason, it is a wonderful opportunity and an experience that one never forgets. Rabbi Susan was thirty-five when she celebrated her bat mitzvah and it was indeed a joyous celebration.
Our first adult b’not mitzvah ceremony was held in January 2016.
There is a fee for preparation for the ceremony.