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Celebrating the Bar or Bat Mitzvah

The Service

The Bar and Bat Mitzvah student has the opportunity to lead important parts of the service. They are expected to chant the Torah blessings, Maftir Aliyah, the Maftir, Haftorah and Haftorah blessings, lead the Torah service and deliver in English a brief Dvar Torah.
The Bar and Bat Mitzvah may also lead other portions of the service with the agreement of the Rabbi. The Bar and Bat Mitzvah child may also lead the recitation of the Kiddush following services. Siblings may also participate in reciting the Kiddush.

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

Family and Friends Participation and Honours

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

Family and friends of the Bar/Bat 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 Bar and Bat 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 or 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 Bar/Bat Mitzvah program. There are no restrictions on participation, except as noted above where one spouse is not Jewish.


The family of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah is expected to sponsor the Kiddush following the service. You should refer to the shul’s Kiddush guidelines and speak to the Food Chairperson for further information.

The family should provide the name of the caterer to the Kiddush chair no less than one month prior to the simcha. The Kiddush sponsor is announced during the service and in the bulletin. If the family would like the announcement to note the sponsor as other than the parents (i.e. grandparents) please inform the shul. The kiddush should be arranged for the number of guests you are inviting plus 100 to 125 congregants, depending on the time of year.

Other Celebrations on the Bar or Bat Mitzvah Shabbat

On any Shabbat, other families may also be marking a life cycle event (e.g. baby naming, aufruf), however the bar or bat 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 or bat mitzvah.

Wed, February 26 2020 1 Adar 5780