Frequently Asked Questions: Bar/Bat Mitzvah

The Hewlett-East Rockaway Jewish Centre, Congregation Etz Chaim, extends a hearty Mazal Tov to you on your upcoming Simcha. We realize how much planning it takes to create the memorable occasion we all know it will be. We are here to help you and hope this FAQ sheet will answer most of your questions. A list of resource people and their contact information appears at the very end.

ADMINISTRATIVE QUESTIONS:

How will I find out what date my child has been given and what happens then?

Rabbi and Hazzan will assign your child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah date in the spring of the year he or she is in fourth grade. The date is chosen based on many factors, including, but not limited to: how many children are in the grade, when the Holidays fall and the time of year of your child’s Hebrew birthday. All children are assigned to a Saturday morning service unless there are extenuating circumstances which can be discussed with Rabbi or Cantor. You will receive confirmation of your child’s assigned date by mail.

Once assigned, can the date be changed? Who should I contact?
If the schedule permits, the date may be changed. You should notify either Rabbi or Cantor immediately to request a change.

If my child is assigned a shared date, how will I know?
It generally takes about 6 months after the dates are initially assigned for all of them to be finalized. After that time, you make request information about shared dates from the synagogue office.

Are there Religious School attendance requirements for becoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah?
Yes. All children are required to attend our religious school or an approved alternative in order to celebrate a Bar or Bat Mitzvah at HERJC.

Is there a financial obligation that must be met in order to celebrate a Bar/Bat Mitzvah at HERJC? What does it cover, when will it be billed and when is it due?
The Bar/Bat Mitzvah fee is currently $1,750.00. It is billed well in advance and can be paid in installments prior to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Our synagogue’s Constitutional by-laws require that this fee must be fully paid prior to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah date. This fee covers all B’nai Mitzvah lessons, and administration as well as bimah flowers and the basic Kiddush reception following the service for members of the congregation and up to 125 of your guests. If you would like a more elaborate Kiddush; or a private Kiddush luncheon for your guests, please call the synagogue office at 516 599-2634 or email secy@herjc.org for information.

What else can I do to share my Simcha with the congregation?
One permanent way to share your joy with the community is to purchase a Simcha leaf, Apple or Rock outside the Sanctuary to honor your child. You can reserve a space for any of these items now and for other future simchas as well with a nonrefundable deposit which will be applied to the cost of the item. All Simcha contributions are completely tax deductable. For more information, please contact the HERJC office.

PriceDeposit
Simcha Leaves (Members Only; New Tree Only)$540.00$100.00
Simcha Apple (Members Only) $1,000.00$180.00
Simcha Rock (Small)$1,500.00$250.00
Simcha Rock(Large)$1,800.00$360.00

Is picture taking permitted at the Bar or Bat Mitzvah?
In keeping with Jewish law, photography and videography are completely prohibited on synagogue grounds throughout Shabbat. Families may arrange to take pictures on the bimah during the week prior to or following their Simcha by contacting Cantor. These arrangements must be made in advance.

PREPARATION

What will my child learn in Religious School in preparation for their Bar/Bat Mitzvah?
While the education in our religious school does not include Bar or Bat Mitzvah training, students in the HERJC religious school learn many of the prayers that are included in the service and some of the skills necessary to chant from the Torah.

Are B’nai Mitzvah required to do a Mitzvah or community service prior to their Bar/Bat Mitzvah? Who approves/supervises and oversees this program?
Yes. All students are expected to do a mitzvah project as part of their preparation. These programs are selected by the students and their families in the Spring of Hay, and are approved and supervised through the religious school office.

When do formal Bar/Bat Mitzvah lessons begin, what will be covered at the lessons and who will teach my child?
Your child will be tested eighteen months prior to their Bat/Bat Mitzvah to assess their level of reading and trope recognition. Weekly lessons will begin nine to twelve months prior to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah. The timing of the start date will depend upon the time of year the Bar/Bat Mitzvah is scheduled for, your child’s level of competency and how much participation they will have in the service. Your child will meet with the Cantor or a designated tutor for up to a half hour per week. Please note that Synagogue policy requires that your account be current for lessons to begin. The Cantor will contact you to set up your time for lessons.

How is my child expected to participate in the service on the day of their Bar/Bat Mitzvah?
B’nai Mitzvah generally chant the full Kiddush at Friday night services and read from the Torah and chant the Haftorah on Shabbat morning. They also deliver a brief D’var Torah address which reflects on the meaning of the Torah portion.

What else can my child do in addition to what is expected?
We are eager to have students participate more fully by reading extra aliyot from the Torah and leading more of the service if they are able to do so and willing to put in the preparation time that is required. Students wishing to do more should discuss this with the Cantor.

How much time should my child practice on a weekly basis?
The best way to master the material and make progress is to devote at least 15 minutes daily to practicing what has been taught in the weekly lessons. Students who don’t practice between lessons tend to fall behind and put their participation in the service at their Bar or Bat Mitzvah in jeopardy.

When and how many times does the family meet with the Rabbi prior to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah and who schedules these appointments?
Rabbi Warmflash generally meets with B’nai mitzvah and their parents privately three times prior to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah date. These sessions enable the Rabbi to get to know the family and study Torah with them. It also provides a time for him to help the student to prepare his or her D’var Torah.

FRIDAY NIGHT SERVICE:

What happens at the Friday night service prior to Bar/Bat Mitzvah?
The family and other friends/relatives are welcomed at this service which lasts just under an hour. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah is expected to chant the full Kiddush at the service.

SATURDAY MORNING SERVICE:

Should we invite the entire Hebrew School or Day School Class/Grade to our child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah service?
In order to prevent hurt feelings, we encourage families who are inviting most of the class to invite everyone.

How can parents/siblings and other relatives participate in the service? What if they can’t read Hebrew?
We want to maximize family involvement. Parents and other relatives can prepare a Torah reading and younger siblings can lead a prayer. Family members who do not read Hebrew can have the honor of opening the Ark. However, it is not our tradition to have parents speak to their children on the Bimah as part of a Bar or Bat Mitzvah.

May candy be thrown during the service in celebration of a Bar or Bat mitzvah?
No. As a result of several occasions on which people were injured by thrown candy, our ritual committee no longer allows the throwing of candy at any Simcha in the synagogue.

How many aliyot and other honors can my family have and how are their determined?
In addition to the Bar or Bat Mitzvah, each family is allowed to have up to 6 Jewish Adults called to the Torah for Aliyot and 4 other “non speaking” honors. All of these honors are worked out in advance with the Rabbi.

Will there be other families celebrating Simchas at Shabbat services on the day of my child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah?
There may be. It is common for there to be a Baby naming, Aufruf, wedding anniversary or other Simcha celebrated on the same morning that one or more families are celebrating their child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah. If there is another Simcha, this will not reduce the number of honors that are given to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah families.

POST BAR/BAT MITZVAH:

What educational opportunities are available for my child?
An Education Series, taught by our Clergy, the Religious School staff and members of our congregation is offered. In addition, a Mentor Program is currently being piloted.

Can my child lead a service; chant Haftorah or Torah at another service?
We hope that your child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah will mark the beginning of their active participation in the spiritual life of our congregation. The Rabbi and Cantor are eager to find more ways for them be become involved.

How can I show my appreciation to the Rabbi/Cantor for their help with our Simcha?
Many families choose to make a donation to the Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund to thank the Rabbi and to the Cantor’s Music Fund to thank the Cantor. These tax deductable donations are acknowledged in Hakol.

These people are here to help you: Feel Free to contact them with specific questions
Rabbi Warmflash
Hazzan Streigold
Ms. Wolf
Mr. Woolfe

HERJC Office Staff