Becoming Bar or Bat Mitzvah at Temple Israel


The preparation process begins about 6-8 months prior to the ceremony. 

  • 6-8 months prior to ceremony: Family meeting with clergy for orientation to b’nei mitzvah experience.
  • 6 months prior to the ceremony: Student begins weekly meetings with one of our B’nei Mitzvah tutors, Danielle Mittleman or Harriet Blitstein. 
  • 5 months prior to the ceremony: Your child attends the first of three meetings with Cantor Cadrain or the cantorial lead. These meetings continue every 1-2 months throughout the process. Parents are invited to attend these meetings as well. 
  • 3 months prior to ceremony: Parents meet with rabbi who will officiate service. 
  • 2 months prior to ceremony: Students begin to meet with the rabbi officiating their service to prepare their D’var Torah. 
  • 1 month prior to the ceremony: students begin bimah rehearsals with clergy. 
  • Week of ceremony: final rehearsal with parents in attendance.
  • Night before ceremony: Please plan to attend our Friday evening service at 6:30pm. Your child will be honored with lighting the candles and leading kiddush and motzi.

Note: we operate on a “10-month year,” meaning we do not count July and August as months of preparation. 

All appointments described above are scheduled through B’nei Mitzvah Coordinator Lilach Levy.



Each student is expected to…

  • Continue to regularly attend Kesher. 
  • Attend Friday night services regularly!
  • Lead the following parts of the liturgy: Candle blessing, Shabbat evening kiddush, Motzi, Tallit blessing, V’ahavta, Avot v’imahot, Gevurot, Torah and Haftarah blessings. Students are also expected to know Sh’ma, Shehecheyanu, Kaddish, and other parts of the liturgy so that they can fully participate along with the clergy and congregation.
  • Practice daily for 15-20 minutes. 
  • Chant approximately 12 verses of the weekly Torah portion and approximately 5 verses of the weekly Haftarah portion. Generally, each student should master about one verse (one sentence) of Torah or Haftarah per week. 
  • Craft and present a D’var Torah, presenting their own insights on the weekly Torah portion.   

Please let us know if your child’s learning needs require special accommodation.


How can I make bar/bat mitzvah a meaningful experience?

  • Determine why this Jewish milestone is so significant to you. In other words, Why are you doing this? Then discuss your answers with your child. Encourage your child to come up with their own answers as well.
  • Take a look at your child’s Torah portion (in English). Discuss it as a family. What themes do you see in the text? How might the portion relate to your family’s values? Are there parts of the portion that you strongly agree with? Parts that trouble you? There really are no wrong answers. Your rabbis will guide your child through the process of writing a D’var Torah, but conversation about the content of the portion can only deepen your family’s experience. 
  • Attend Shabbat services at Temple Israel, or via our livestream. Our services are filled with joyous music and compelling messages about our world. Most importantly, Shabbat is a time to be together as a family without the distraction of screens or the burden of to-do lists. We think you’ll love it. It’s also the best way for your child (and you!) to become familiar with the service your child will be leading. 


Tutoring and Materials

  • Steps to success:
    • Practice every day
    • Practice out loud
    • Correct your mistakes
    • Repeat, repeat, repeat
  • All necessary materials are found in your child’s google folder. 
  • B’nei Mitzvah appointments may be changed only if tutors’ schedules permit. Please contact Lilach Levy to see if a reschedule is possible. Please note that your instructor may change if you request a change in appointment day/time. 
  • Students should bring their booklets, either digitally or printed, to each lesson, and each meeting with Cantor Cadrain.
  • You can find digital audio files of blessings and prayers, including the Torah blessings recited by those honored with an aliyah at here.
  • If extra tutoring is advised beyond what we can provide, Rabbi Nemitoff-Bresler can provide a list of tutors recommended by the temple. Please do not engage a tutor without checking with Rabbi NB, as she can help connect you with a tutor who is a good fit for your child.


Honors for Family

  • Family and friends may be honored with an aliyah — the blessing before and after reading the Torah. Generally you will have three aliyot, each which can be parceled out to a small group (ie, grandparents and aunts and uncles). The bar/bat mitzvah has the honor of the fourth aliyah.
  • An aliyah form is provided in your google folder, and here: Aliyot form. Please send us the completed aliyah form at least two weeks before your child’s bar/bat mitzvah.  
  • Grandparents and parents are invited to participate in the passing of the Torah scroll from generation to generation.
  • Younger siblings have the honor of reading an English prayer for peace. 
  • Older siblings may have the honor of an aliyah, or of lifting the Torah scroll.


Tikkun Olam Project

An integral part of becoming a Jewish adult is taking on the responsibility to repair our broken world. Rabbi Elana Nemitoff-Bresler coordinates and supports our Tikkun Olam Projects. She will meet with each student about 5 months out from their B’nei Mitzvah and then continue to meet with them as needed. 

  • You can access a list of Tikkun Olam Project ideas and organizations here
  • Once you have chosen a project please complete this form


Photography and Video

You may also arrange a time to use our sanctuary for photographs immediately prior to or following the service. To reserve the sanctuary for photographs, email Lilach Levy. Temple Israel staff will be present to assist during the photo session.   

Photography and videography are permitted during the worship service as long as the camera is stationary in the rear of the sanctuary.