Helping you put it all together with some FAQ

WHAT IS A BAR/BAT MITZVAH?

Bar/Bat Mitzvah means ‘age of commandment.’ On April 9th, Miranda & Henry will each have the privilege of wearing a tallit (prayer shawl) for the first time since they are now old enough to accept the responsibilities and privileges of adulthood in the Jewish religious community. Here’s a cute little video with some guidance, and you can also keep reading more more detailed info.

BAT, BAR, B’NAI… WHAT DOES ALL THAT MEAN?

Linguistics! Bat for girls, Bar for boys, B’not (pronounced “Buh-NOTE”) for multiple girls, B’nai (pronounced “Buh-NAY”) for any other multiples. Hebrew, like many other languages, is very gender-specific, and as Henry identifies as a boy and Miranda as a girl, the gendered language isn’t problematic for our family, but it certainly can be for others.

IMPORTANT PROTOCOL

Absolutely no photography is allowed in the sanctuary or on temple grounds during the entirety of Shabbat (Friday sundown to Sat sundown). Please refrain from gum-chewing, and remember to silence your devices, as cell phone usage (as well as any other electronics) is prohibited. Applauding is generally not acceptable in the sanctuary. Instead we use the saying, yasher ko-ach, which means “may you be strengthened,” and is appropriate to say any time a person does a deed that benefits others in a holy way.

WHAT DO I WEAR?

The synagogue is considered a house of God, so we ask that you dress respectfully and modestly for the services. What does this mean? No jeans, t-shirts, ripped clothing, super-short skirts, plunging necklines, bared midriffs, or the like, please!
IMPORTANT: All men/boys must wear kippot (yarmulkes) while in the synagogue during Shabbat. If you don’t have your own kippah for Friday night you can use temple ones, and for Saturday morning we will have personalized burgundy ones (which you are encouraged to take as a keepsake, should you wish). Wearing a tallit is optional. The women going up on the bima for English readings must have their shoulders covered, and those going up for Aliyot must have head coverings/kippot (we have lace ones at temple if you prefer those to the personalized kippot, and I will try to make sure to bring bobby pins) in addition to covering their shoulders.
Think of the Friday night service as business casual. Examples: Henry will be wearing slacks, a button-down shirt, with bow-tie and suspenders, Miranda will be wearing a dress, but not overly fancy, and Ethan will be in slacks with a thin sweater or button-down shirt.
The Saturday morning service is definitely dressier, but do not feel obligated to go out and purchase anything fancy! Slacks and a button-up/polo or blouse is perfectly fine, as is a full suit and tie or dress! Henry, Ethan, and Jack will be wearing suits, Miranda will be in a “very grown-up” (her words) jumper, and Abi has no clue what she’ll be wearing. Ha!

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO SERVICES?

Friday night celebrates the beginning of Shabbat — a welcoming of the Sabbath. Our Friday night services begin at 7pm and last about an hour to an hour and a half.

We are quite proud that Henry’s and Miranda’s years as active members of the CBS community and Religious School brings them to this weekend where they will not only lead much of their Saturday morning B’nai Mitzvah service, but also the majority of this special Friday night service (under the guidance of Rabbi Jay Siegel and Cantor Ray Cohen). If you are able to attend, you won’t be sorry! Miranda will be singing a few songs/prayers, with Abi, Cantor Doug Cotler (Abi’s Uncle), and Rabbi/Cantor Kyle Cotler (Abi’s cousin) joining in song. It will be quite music-filled!
We would LOVE to see you at services on Friday, but if you cannot make it, it’s ok! Henry and Miranda will indeed be leading it, but it is not integral to them becoming a B’nai Mitzvah.

The Saturday morning service is the Big Day… the Main Event… the Room Where It Happens!

IMPORTANT: as this is a conservative shul, the service is long. Eat a good breakfast. It’ll be about 12:15/12:30-ish when the service concludes.
Miranda and Henry have been preparing for this day for months with their dedicated tutor, Breena Prater (but also, years starting in preschool and regular attendance at Shabbat services)! This is considered the most important, not-to-be missed portion of the celebration, but please note: there is no expectation to sing or chant along with the songs and prayers!
Saturday morning is actually comprised of four services, guided by Rabbi Jay Siegel and Cantor Ray Cohen:

1) Birchot HaShachar (Blessings of the Dawn) & P’sukei D’Zimra (Verses of Song) make up our preliminary/introductory service meant to prepare us for prayer. This service will be led by Cantor Ray Cohen and is approximately 10-15 minutes long.

2) Shacharit is the morning service that┬ástarts with the call to worship (Bar’chu) and is the beginning of the communal prayer. This service will be led by Miranda’s and Henry’s older brother, Ethan, and is approximately 25-30 minutes long.

3) The Torah service is where the B’nai Mitzvah action starts happening!

Henry and Miranda will come to the bima (the raised area in front of the congregation) to receive their tallitot (the plural of tallit, the prayer shawl), presented to them by Abi and Jack, and the Torah will be removed from the Ark for the Passing of the Torah, a very meaningful act that symbolizes the transmission of Jewish values from one generation to the next. We will sing L’dor Vador (from generation to generation) as the Torah is passed from Abi’s Uncle Doug, to Abi, to Ethan, and then to Miranda and Henry.

As an honor, family and friends will be called to the Torah for an Aliyah (recitation of the blessing before and after each Torah reading) and to chant from the Torah for that week’s parsha (a Torah portion read on a specific week). We are very excited that all of the Torah readers at this service are kids, ranging from ages 13-17 (including Ethan)! Miranda will be called to the Torah –for the first time– to recite the blessings and chant the seventh Torah reading, and then Henry will be called to the Torah –for the first time– to recite the blessings and chant the Maftir (the concluding section of the parsha), which concludes the weekly Torah reading.

The Torah will be lifted and dressed and placed to the side, and the kids will give a speech about their journey to this big day, along with their D’var Torah (discussion of the parsha, in English). Then they’ll dive into the Haftarah, which is usually a concluding reading from the book of the Prophets selected by the rabbis of old to complement or develop a subject or theme found in the Torah portion, but in this case is connected to the upcoming holiday of Pesach (Passover). Next up? They’ll likely be pelted with candy (for sake of everyone’s sanity, candy will be handed out to only a few in the first couple of rows). Come to the service or watch the live stream to find out why.

Speeches come next (Director of the Preschool, representative of the Temple Board, representative of the Youth Group, parent speech), and then the Rabbi and Cantor will give a special blessing to Miranda and Henry. After some special English readings, Cantor Ray will lead a call-and-response prayer in Hebrew (the Ashrei) before Henry and Miranda lead the concluding prayers of the Torah service as the Torah is placed back into the Ark.

All in, this Torah service, mostly led by Miranda and Henry, will likely last approximately an hour and a half.

4) Last up is the Musaf service, the additional/supplementary service. This service will be led by Miranda and Henry, with Miranda singing a beautiful version of L’dor Vador (accompanied by Uncle Doug), and includes a special song sung by Doug and Kyle Cotler. This service will last approximately 30-35 minutes long.

WHAT IS A TRADITIONAL GIFT?

We have been asked this question numerous times so we thought it best to cover the answer here. Please know that gifts are not required nor expected. Should you wish to give the kids something, monetary gifts are the most traditional, usually given in multiples of $18 ($18, $36, $54, $72, etc.). Why 18? Chai, the Hebrew word for “life,” has a value of 18. Honestly, our biggest gift will be the opportunity to share this big day with family and friends!