B'nai Mitzvah Guide
This guide will help answer many of the questions you may have as you travel through the B'nai Mitzvah journey with your family.
- Students must complete four years of Religious School, including Hebrew and Sunday school. Consistent attendance is expected.
- In order to feel more comfortable on the bimah, students and their parents are encouraged to attend Shabbat worship leading up to their special day. If you attend a minimum of 12 non-holiday worship services you are eligible for special recognition.
- Students are required to complete a Mitzvah Project.
- Actively participate in one-on-one sessions with Cantor Green to review all prayers, Haftorah and Torah portions.
- All students will meet with Rabbi Bonder to write an introduction to their Haftarah portion and to discuss and complete their Mitzvah project.
- All students will meet with Rabbi Marx to write a D’var Torah (sermon) based on their Torah portion.
To help your child prepare for their special day:
- Listen to your child read aloud
- Help them schedule home study in preparation for their weekly lessons
- Ensure your child attends Religious school, weekday Hebrew and private appointments
- Your child must be registered in the Religious School for the B'nai Mitzvah year. B'nai Mitzvah is a beginning, not an end. We hope that all of our students will continue through our varied offerings on the path to Confirmation.
- Reach out to your child’s bimah partner and his/her family. Sharing a Shabbat dinner, a Mitzvah project or any shared experience during the year will make the year more meaningful.
- To help your child prepare for their special day:
- Usher at Friday night and Saturday morning services. If you cannot do this mitzvah on the date assigned, please contact Sharon Carlin in the Religious School office and she will make every effort to accommodate your schedule change.
- Attend worship services on the Friday night preceding your child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah and lead the congregation with your child in the Candle Blessings, Kiddush and HaMotzi.
In order to ensure a smooth service, be sure to practice the following blessings:
- Before and after the Torah reading
- Please keep your financial account in good standing and paid in full leading up to your child’s milestone. If you need to make other payment arrangements, please contact our Executive Director, Amy Abrams.
- The B'nai Mitzvah fee is divided into three payments. The first payment is due when you confirm the date of your child’s mitzvah. The balance of this fee is paid in two installments when your child is in 5th and 6th grade. This fee covers all training as well as sponsorship for the Oneg on the Friday night before your child becomes a Bar/Bat Mitzvah and the bima flowers for that weekend. All children and their families are honored in the Order of Service and Spotlight for these sponsorships.
Tzedakah is a pillar of Judaism. The B'nai Mitzvah experience is the perfect opportunity to practice this and make it an integral part of your child’s journey. The following are several ways to do so:
Participate in Jacob’s Ladder, named in memory of Jake Getson, which is a voluntary mitzvah collective whereby our students contribute $100 to a fund that is managed by Beth Or. At the end of the year, participants are invited to Rabbi Marx’s home, where they jointly decide how to distribute the monies collected. Participants can rejoin each year for $10 (or more) until the age of 21. Jacob’s Ladder hopes to build community and teach our children about the joy of tzedakah.
Another meaningful way to commemorate this important life cycle event in your child’s life is to support Israel through the purchase of Israel Bonds. Your child will be recognized publicly at the service for their investment. For more information, please contact Barbara Murtha, 215-646-5806 x220.
Donations to one of Beth Or funds, and/or dedicatory opportunities are a wonderful way to commemorate this milestone in your child’s Jewish journey. Please contact Amy Abrams, 215-646-5806, to discuss options.
- Ushers: Ushers will be assigned at all services to insure a meaningful worship experience.
- Attire : Clothing chosen for any person coming up to the Bimah, for either an aliyah or to have a pulpit honor, must be in keeping with the sacred space that our Sanctuary demands. We ask that all women have their shoulders covered and that clothing is modest. For men, a suit and tie are normal attire. The Rabbis request that those coming up for an Aliyah wear a tallit and kippah.
- Photography/Video: We respectfully ask that no photos or videos be taken from the congregational pews during the service. Each family is permitted one video camera for the service. The camera must be on a tripod and in the video room only. The videographer must stay with the camera until the service is over.
Please review these Photography Guidelines with your photographer for picture taking before the service.
- Flowers and Oneg: The congregation provides a dessert Oneg following Friday night Shabbat Worship services. Each family will be recognizes in the Order of Service as having sponsored these items in honor of their child’s B'nai Mitzvah. This is included in your B'nai Mitzvah fee.
- Aliyah: To ascend to the bimah to recite the blessings before and after the reading of the Torah Blessings
- Aron Hakodesh: The holy ark which houses the Torah
- Bar Mitzvah/B’nai Mitzvah: Son of the commandments/daughter of the commandments
- Bimah: Elevated platform from which the Torah is read
- B’rachot Hakafa: The traditional procession during which the Torah scroll is carried into the congregation.
- D’Var Torah: A speech using as its focus the message of the Torah portion
- Haftarah: Sacred writings of the Prophets, the second book of the Bible
- Kippah: A head covering worn to show respect for God. Both boys and girls are encouraged to wear a kippah during services.
- Parsha/Sedra: The weekly Torah portion
- Siddur: A prayer book
- Tallit: A prayer shawl worn during morning services. The Torah explains that wearing a tallit is a reminder of God’s commandments (Numbers 15:39). At Beth Or, we encourage both boys and girls to wear a tallit during Bar/Bat Mitzvah service.
- Torah: The sacred scriptures of the Jewish people, consisting of the Five Books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy)
- Yad: The silver pointer used to keep one’s place while chanting from the Torah scroll