Bar/Bat Mitzvah Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who is eligible to become a Bar/Bat Mitzvah at THS?
The Temple Har Shalom Board has set forth the following guidelines and policies for Bar/Bat Mitzvah, taking into account Reform Jewish tradition, our own Synagogue’s practices, and parameters dictated by the size and nature of our Congregation and facility.

The Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony is a meaningful and significant event in the life of a Jewish child and is held at a Congregational worship service from September through June. (Certain dates during those months will not be available in order to accommodate programming and Clergy schedules.) The celebration of Bar/Bat Mitzvah at Temple Har Shalom is a privilege accorded only to members in good standing.

Every child:

  1. must be enrolled in, and attending, our Religious School at the time of his/her Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony.
  2. successfully meet all class requirements.
  3. needs to have completed four (4) years of religious education (beginning in 3rd grade) or its equivalent.

 An Important Note:
THS takes great pride in making every Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony special. There are occasions, however, when special circumstances necessitate an adjustment in the student’s participation in the worship service. We will do everything possible to work with each student – as an individual – with the ultimate goal of maximizing the student’s self-esteem and sense of accomplishment. Please feel free to discuss any concerns you might have with either the Rabbi or the Cantor.

What are the financial obligations for having a Bar/Bat Mitzvah?
All financial obligations of the member family are required to be on a current basis six (6) months prior to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony. Each member family will be responsible to pay a Bar/Bat Mitzvah fee of $1,200 which is billed in three equal installments of $400.

Below is an explanation of the payment schedule:

Payment #1          $400           Fourth Grade (or when date was assigned)

Payment #2          $400           Fifth Grade

Payment #3          $400           Sixth Grade

Subtotal:             $1,200                                                                                                 

 Payment of these installments is required to hold the child’s assigned date.

In addition, each family is required to pay a $350 Oneg Shabbat fee that is billed in the Sixth-Grade year.

For those choosing an Afternoon (Mincha) Service, there is an additional fee of $2,000. This fee is assigned to reserve the Temple for your Simcha. Since you have reserved this date, no other functions will be scheduled for that evening. Below is an explanation of the payment schedule:

Payment #1          $1,000        Fourth Grade (or when date was assigned)

Payment #2          $1,000        Fifth Grade

Subtotal:             $2,000

If you subsequently decide to change your date to a Shabbat Morning Service, please understand that $1,000 of the Mincha Service fee will be non-refundable one year prior to your Bar/Bat Mitzvah date.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah training will not commence until all fees are paid in full. This includes all fees due and payable for the child’s Religious School tuition. If you need to discuss a payment plan, please contact our Office Manager, Karen Anolick at karena@templeharshalom.org.

All fees are subject to change.

 Commonly Asked Questions:

We would like to travel to Israel for our child(ren)’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Does the Temple lead family trips to Israel?
Rabbi Musnitsky does lead a Congregational Trip to Israel just about every two years. Families are welcome to join the trip and have their child(ren)’s simcha in Israel. Please contact Rabbi Musnitsky directly to discuss this exciting possibility.

THS B’nai Mitzvah who choose to travel to Israel for this life cycle occasion will be honored with a special Oneg Shabbat on a Friday evening at Temple Har Shalom.  It is our policy that all fees and requirements will be identical to those who will celebrate on our Bimah.

On what day and time does THS celebrate Bar/Bat Mitzvah?
A Bar/Bat Mitzvah is celebrated on Shabbat (Saturday). Families can choose to have a Shabbat Morning Service or a Mincha (Afternoon) Service. The Shabbat Morning Service starts at 10:30am and the Mincha Service begins at 5:00pm. Each Service lasts approximately an hour and a half.

What is the role of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah during the Friday evening Kabbalat Shabbat Service?
The Bar/Bat Mitzvah student will be seated with his/her family at the beginning of the Service. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah family is invited to join the Rabbi and Cantor on the Bimah for the blessing and lighting of the Shabbat candles. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah student will chant the Kiddush. Afterwards, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah child will sit with his/her family in the Congregation. We ask families to check our website calendar to confirm Service times as they may change on special occasions. Each B’nai Mitzvah family should plan on arriving at least 20 minutes prior to the start of the Service.

What and when is the Oneg Shabbat?
The Oneg Shabbat celebrates Shabbat with refreshments at the end of Services on Friday night and the entire Congregation is invited. The parent(s) or family of each Bar/Bat Mitzvah sponsor the Oneg Shabbat. The current fee each family is charged is $350. If a special service or other lifecycle event occurs on the same evening, there may be co-sponsors for the Oneg Shabbat, but the fee does not change.

The Temple will arrange for the Oneg Shabbat refreshments and the maintenance staff sets up and cleans up afterwards.  If you have special needs (i.e. food allergies), please inform the Office.

What is the role of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah during the Saturday Service?
There are three areas of participation for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah student at a Shabbat morning or a Mincha service: to be a ShaliachTzibur/leader of worship, to chant from the Torah and the Haftarah, and to offer a D’var Torah, or teaching on the week’s Torah portion.

Each Bar/Bat Mitzvah student assumes the role of Ba’al (at) K’Riah /Torah Reader for the day. This entails the learning of four (4) aliyot or selections from the week’s Torah portion, which usually amounts to 10-15 verses selected by the student in consultation with the Cantor.

Following the reading of Torah, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah student will chant the Haftarah, or secondary biblical reading from the Book of Kings or Prophets. Like the Torah reading, the Haftarah is chanted according to a specific melody to be learned from the Cantor. The amount of verses to be chanted will be determined by the Cantor together with the student.

After the reading of the Torah and Haftarah, each Bar/Bat Mitzvah student will deliver a two-three-page D’var Torah which includes an explanation of his/her Torah portion, the meaning of becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah and a description of the Mitzvah Project.

The D’var Torah is your opportunity to explain and teach the Congregation something about your Torah portion and to help them apply it to their own lives. There is no right or wrong D’var Torah; what you end up writing about will be based on the ideas that interest you personally.  Rabbi Musnitsky will meet with each Bar/Bat Mitzvah and their family to develop an outline and a completed D’var Torah.  She will assist each student through the process.

 Can you provide guidelines as to attire for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah family and their guests?
Both boys and girls should wear “worship appropriate” attire. A general guideline is if you would not wear your outfit to services on Shabbat or the High Holy Dyas, it is not appropriate for your Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Adults too should dress accordingly. Please encourage your guests to follow these guidelines as well:

  • For Women and Girls: a) Women and girls may wear a dress or skirt of modest length. b) Strapless or “spaghetti” strap dresses are not considered appropriate for the Sanctuary unless shoulders are covered.
  • Bat Mitzvah Girl: a) Dress or Skirt must not be shorter than finger-tip length. Clothing must not be tight, revealing or suggestive. b) Strapless, backless, halter or off the shoulder are not permitted without a jacket or sweater. A Tallit May Not Serve As A Shawl. c) No dress may be longer than tea length.

  • For Men and Boys: Boys and men may wear a suit or jacket, with a collared shirt and tie, or similar dress attire. Casual attire such as jeans, t-shirts, baseball caps, etc. is not permitted during a worship service.

Do we need to provide yarmulkes (kippot) and tallit?
It is traditional at Temple Har Shalom for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah to wear a tallit. This can be one given as a gift from a family member, a new one purchased by the family or one that is handed down from a loved one. If any of your guests choose to wear a tallit, they can borrow one from the Temple.

Many families due choose to order yarmulkes (kippot) for their Service. The yarmulkes (kippot) are placed outside the Sanctuary on Saturday. If you choose not to order your own yarmulkes (kippot), then you can make arrangements with the Temple Office to use our white yarmulkes (kippot).

How should we word our invitation?
All invitations should indicate 10:15am for a Shabbat Morning Service and a 4:45pm start time for a Mincha (Afternoon) Service.

You can consider purchasing unique and exquisite JNF invitations or certificates. These can be customized to use as invitations, favors, table signs or for candle-lighting ceremonies. Each invitation or certificate represents a tree that has been planted in Israel or a donation to water resource development in Israel in honor of your guests (www.jnf.org).

What about directions to Temple Har Shalom?
Directions can be found on the Temple website – www.templeharshalom.org/directions-to-us.

 Is the Temple wheelchair accessible?
The main entrance of the Temple and the bimah both have a ramp for a wheelchair. Handicapped parking (marked in blue) is located before the main entrance doors.

Currently the Temple is under construction to redo our lower entrance and to make it handicapped accessible including the installation of an elevator. When completed the Temple will be fully wheelchair accessible.

Are there provisions for the hearing impaired?
Hearing devices to enhance the worship experience are available upon request.

Is there a way for someone who cannot attend the Service to watch it?
If you have a family member or friend unable to join you on Friday evening or Saturday almost all of our Shabbat services are streamed via YouTube live. The link is located on our website.

Can the services be photographed, or video recorded?
Still photos are not permitted during the Friday evening or Saturday services. You can make arrangements with Karen Anolick, our Office Manager, to take photographs either prior to your Saturday service or on a day prior or after your child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah.

You may hire a videographer to record the Service for you. Manny Morales, our Chief of Maintenance, will let the videographer know where he/she can set up his/her equipment.