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Celebrating the Bar/Bat Mitzvah

The Service

The Bat/Bar Mitzvah student has the opportunity to lead important parts of the service. They are expected to chant the Torah blessings, Maftir Aliyah, the Maftir, Haftarah and Haftarah blessings, lead the Torah service and deliver in English a brief Dvar Torah.

The Bar/Bat Mitzvah may also lead other portions of the service with the agreement of the Rabbi. The child may also lead the recitation of the Kiddush following services. Siblings may also participate in reciting the Kiddush.

The Bar/Bat Mitzvah student prepares the Dvar Torah with the guidance of the Rabbi. The Rabbi meets with the student several times in the months prior to the simcha and approves the final version of the Dvar Torah prior to the simcha.


A rehearsal takes place in the weeks before the simcha. At that time the family may arrange for photographs or videotapes. The Rabbi must approve this in advance.

A Gift from the Shul

It is a tradition at the Narayever that a gift from the Congregation is given to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah child to commemorate the occasion. The President of the Board usually presents the gift. If the Bat/Bar Mitzvah family has a particular connection with another member of the Board and wishes to have him/her make the presentation, this should be discussed with the President in advance of the simcha.

Showering with Candy

It is a tradition at the Narayever to “shower” the Bar/Bat Mitzvah child with candy after the Haftarah blessings are completed. All candy brought into the Shul must carry a recognized hekhsher (a stamp that certifies it is kosher) and should be the soft, chewy, and individual wrapped variety. Baskets for holding the candy are kept in the shul. The candies are distributed during the blessings following the Haftarah.

Family and Friends Participation and Honours

The shul encourages the participation of family and honoured friends in Bar/Bat Mitzvahs.

Family and friends of the Bat/Bar Mitzvah family may have three aliyot and the Hagba and Glila honours (raising and dressing the Torah) and opening and closing the Ark twice during the service.

The Bar/Bat Mitzvah family can request that they or other members of their party lead other parts of the service such as leyning other aliyot, or leading one of the services (Pesukei d’zimra, Shaharit Musaf or Kiddush). Young family members and friends can recite the Ashrei. All requests for additional participation should be made to the person responsible for organizing services.

As the person responsible varies from year to year, the Rabbi or Bat/Bar Mitzvah chair can direct families to the right person. Such requests will be considered within the sanctity of the Shabbat and the needs of the congregation. The daveners and leyners should contact the Rabbi at least one month before the Bar/Bat Mitzvah to review their part and to become familiar with the customs and traditions of the First Narayever Congregation with regard to the part they are planning to lead.

Participation Where One Parent is not Jewish

In the spirit of the shul’s wish to be as inclusive as possible, non-Jewish parents are permitted to participate in the ceremony as follows: once the Jewish spouse completes his or her Aliyah, all parents may be present on the bima when the child reads the maftir portion, and when subsequent blessings are said by the Rabbi and the parents. The non-Jewish parent is also welcome on the bima with the rest of the family when the Kiddush is said.

Same Sex Parents

As in all matters of synagogue life, same sex parents and mixed sex parents are equally welcome to participate in the Bat/Bar Mitzvah program. There are no restrictions on participation, except as noted above where one spouse is not Jewish.


It is the practice of the First Narayever Congregation to provide a full buffet luncheon with kiddush after our Shabbat morning services, as well as after morning services on Shavuot and Sukkot. This provides an opportunity to socialize with fellow congregants, meet new people, and prepare for what is for some a long walk home.

Families of Bar/Bat Mitzvahs are expected to sponsor the kiddush luncheon that follows Shabbat services, as well as a small youth kiddush provided to those attending our children’s programming. On a typical Shabbat morning, the shul provides a luncheon for 120 shul attendees. Invited guests of Bat/Bar Mitzvah families would add to that total – though some families choose to host a luncheon off-site immediately following services, which would preclude their guests from attending the shul’s kiddush. In these cases Bar/Bat Mitzvah families are still expected to sponsor the shul’s kiddush luncheon and small youth kiddush.

The sponsorship portion attributable to the regular number of attendees is tax deductible, and the Narayever will issue a tax receipt for that amount.

During the renovations to the shul on Brunswick Ave., beginning Saturday, March 14, 2020, the Narayever’s Shabbat services and most chagim services will be relocated to the Leo Baeck Day School, at 501 Arlington Avenue. As there will be no kosher kitchen or warming facilities available at Leo Baeck, the kiddush will consist of food from a kosher caterer intended to be served cold or at room temperature that is delivered on Friday and stored in the school’s fridges and/or kitchen area.

Options include such items as salads, sandwich trays, bagels, cheese, fruit and cookies. There will also be a small selection of gluten-free items for those who are gluten-sensitive or gluten-intolerant.

Bat/Bar Mitzvah families should be in touch with the Narayever office at least one month in advance of their simcha to discuss arrangements. If families prefer to use a different caterer than the one chosen by the Narayever, they are welcome to do so but must seek authorization from Rabbi Ed ahead of time. If using a different caterer, families are asked to consider providing a small selection of gluten-free items as well.

The Kiddush sponsor is announced during the service and noted in the weekly bulletin and pew sheets. If the family would like the announcement to note the sponsor as other than the parents (i.e. grandparents), please inform the shul.

Leo Baeck will provide four six-foot rectangular tables for food and drink service. If you prefer round tables for guest seating then please order those tables and table cloths from a party rental company, to be delivered to Leo Baeck on Friday. Please contact the shul office to co-ordinate the timing of the delivery.

Other Celebrations on the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Shabbat

On any Shabbat, other families may also be marking a life cycle event (e.g. baby naming, aufruf), however the Bat/Bar Mitzvah family is still able to invite up to 120 guests. The shul will contact the family to inform them if other celebrations will take place on the same day as the Bar/Bat Mitzvah.

Wed, January 19 2022 17 Shevat 5782