Becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, when boys and girls are called upon to read from Torah for the first time, marks the Jewish coming of age. On that proud day, they chant from the Torah and Haftarah portions, chant blessings, participate in the Shabbat service, and deliver the Devar Torah in front of friends, family, and the Union Temple community. From that day forward, the Bar and Bat Mitzvah are eligible to perform all rites and customs associated with Jewish worship. Most important, they are expected to fulfill the commandments, mitzvot, incumbent upon all Jewish adults.
Bar and Bat Mitzvah is experienced at UT in the context of a fully involved congregational Jewish life: one of many Life Cycle events. To be called to the Torah as a Bar or Bat Mitzvah children of Union Temple members attend the Religious School for at least two years.
During the winter before the year of Bar and Bat Mitzvah training begins, our rabbi assists families in deciding on the parashah and sets the date based on the child’s birthday and other factors. He also conducts a seminar to discuss the various questions and concerns parents often have at this time. He reviews the religious and historical significance of Bar and Bat Mitzvah, practices among the different streams of Judaism, and what to expect at Union Temple. At that time families are provided a Bar and Bat Mitzvah Handbook that provides information parents and students need.
In addition to learning the blessings, prayers, and selections of Torah and Haftarah readings for the day and preparing a D’var Torah (speech), Bar or Bat Mitzvah students meet with the rabbi to discuss the meaning and significance of the texts and of the day—in Jewish history, and in the student’s own life.
Starting in the spring of fourth grade and continuing throughout sixth grade, all pre-b’nai mitzvah children and their parents are invited to attend special Family Learning Programs for their specific grade. In addition to building familiarity with the b’nai mitzvah process, you will have the opportunity to engage in Torah study with the Rabbis and educators as you learn more about this rite of passage. This is also a very special time for you and your child to learn with his or her community of peers.
Mitzvah Projects are a chance for our students to consider how they can personally make a difference in the world. During the year prior to Bar or Bat Mitzvah students and their parents select a volunteering, advocacy, or fundraising project based on the child’s interests.
Anshei Mitzvah is for adults who either did not have Bar or Bat Mitzvah as children, or who wish to re-commit themselves to Torah and a Jewish life. In the year preceding the ceremony the celebrant prepares to chant the selected Torah and Haftarah readings and to teach from the Bimah at a Shabbat morning service with our rabbi’s assistance.