Sign In Forgot Password

Celebrating Your Bar or Bat Mitzvah at Beth Sholom

Setting The Date

All religious rites are observed according to the Jewish calendar, and so the actual bar/bat mitzvah date ("ABM") corresponds to the Hebrew date when we reach the age of twelve or thirteen.

For a bar mitzvah, the ceremony is celebrated soon after his thirteenth Hebrew birthday. As of the ABM, a boy must start wearing tefillin during the weekday morning services and may be counted in a minyan. He should receive an aliyah on a weekday soon after the ABM and begin his observance of mitzvot.

For a bat mitzvah, the ceremony is celebrated during her twelfth year. As of the ABM, all mitzvot, such as kindling Shabbat candles together with her mother and fasting on Yom Kippur, are required. To confirm your son or daughter's actual bar/bat mitzvah date, please contact the synagogue office at 416-783-6103. As some dates are extremely popular we encourage you to contact the office at 416-783-6103 to book your bar/bat mitzvah celebration at least two years in advance, and to make arrangements for your simcha as soon as your date is confirmed.


Participation in the Service

It is at the Shabbat morning services that our bar/bat mitzvah are presented to the congregation and community in recognition of their new adult status.

In addition to the chanting of the haftarah (a short selection from the Prophets), the bar/bat mitzvah may also read appropriate portions from the Torah. At Beth Sholom, girls and boys are required to read the Maftir portion and the corresponding Haftorah. Additionally, all students are encouraged to read additional aliyot from the Torah. All b'nai mitzvah may chant additional prayers such as Ashrei and Ein Keloheinu, as well as recite a D’var Torah from the bimah, and explain the meaning of the parashah, if he or she wishes.

It is sometimes necessary to double-book for bar/bat mitzvah celebrations. Each candidate will be required to have mastered the chanting of all of the blessings, Maftir and their half of the haftarah. The apportionment of the haftarah will be determined by Cantor Moses and coordinated with your teacher.

Parents should contact Cantor Moses at (416) 783-6106 or cantor@bethsholom.net well in advance to ensure that your child has been assigned the proper Torah and/or haftarah portions. Tutoring or enrollment in our Bar/Bat Mitzvah program can be discussed with Cantor Moses and should be arranged immediately after the portions are assigned. Each family should arrange to meet with Rabbi Flanzraich at least one month prior to their simcha (celebration) to discuss the D’var Torah.


Family Honours

Depending on the number of events taking place on the Shabbat of your bar/bat h, your family may be allowed up to three additional honours, depending on other celebrations or yahrzeits being observed on a particular Shabbat. Please advise our Ritual Coordinator of your wishes and we will make every possible effort to accommodate your family's requests. A representative from the synagogue will contact you to advise you of the honours that have been assigned to your family. On a weekday, only men wearing tefillin will be called to the bimah. If tefillin are required, the shul has a limited supply to loan for the occasion. If assistance is required, please arrive a few minutes early and we will be pleased to help you. On Shabbat morning, family members and friends whom you have honoured with an aliyah should be at the Synagogue no later than 9:30 AM. Unfortunately, if they have not arrived by this time and have not received their aliyah card from an usher, the honour may be given to someone else to avoid delays to the service.


Bar Mitzvah Aliyah & Tefillin

While most bar mitzvahs are observed on Shabbat, it is customary for a boy to come to the shul on the first Monday or Thursday following his ABM to receive an aliyah to the Torah and to put on tefillin for the first time.

The bar mitzvah should receive a new pair of tefillin, purchased and properly sized prior to the actual bar mitzvah date. Tefillin that belong to another member of the family is not discouraged; every adult male should have his own pair. An exception will be made if there is a tefillin from a deceased relative that the family would like the bar mitzvah to inherit. In this case, the tefillin should be checked and certified as kosher by a reputable Sofer (ritual scribe), to insure that the parchment scrolls in the tefillin have not deteriorated due to humidity, cold and heat. Only a certified Sofer can do this.

Contact the synagogue office at (647) 873-1236 as soon as possible to reserve a date for a tefillin aliyah.

If you require a certified Sofer, please contact Vered in the synagogue office at 416-783-6103 x4227.

It is customary for the bar mitzvah family to sponsor the congregational breakfast to mark this special occasion. Once your tefillin aliyah date is confirmed, please contact the synagogue office at (647) 873-1236 to sponsor your breakfast.


Educational Requirements

Beth Sholom has minimum educational requirements prepared in conjunction with the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism, and reserves the right to withdraw the privilege of religious services if education, participation, and attendance requirements are not met. These include: Attendance at a Hebrew School recognized by the Toronto Board of Jewish Education at least two days per week, for five years, including the year of the bar/bat mitzvah. Attendance at Beth Sholom's bar mitzvah family program led by Rabbi Flanzraich and Cantor Moses.

Attendance at Shabbat services at least once per month during the year prior to the bar mitzvah. One of the most important mitzvot that we are called upon to fulfill as an adult is Talmud Torah. The quality and quantity of Jewish knowledge that we acquire up until our bar or bat mitzvah celebration is only a small portion of the vast wealth of Torah knowledge waiting for us. The most respected title that one can achieve as a Jew is that of Talmid Chacham: a wise and learned student of the Torah. Reaching the age of Jewish maturity does not absolve us of this significant mitzvah, but enhances its importance as a tool for our future development and understanding.

All bar/bat mitzvah candidates are encouraged to continue their Jewish education by attending available high schools and high school programs within the Jewish community.


Kashrut

It is important to recognize that the bar/bat mitzvah has reached the age of Jewish responsibility, which implies the observance of many Jewish laws. Scheduling a party or other gathering which is non-kosher and/or requires participants to desecrate the Shabbat is not appropriate.

In accordance with the requirements of the Rabbinical Assembly - Ontario Region, the first meal following a bar/bat mitzvah ceremony must be held in an approved kosher facility (hotel, catering hall or synagogue) or in a private home. Non-members must hold their catered meal at Beth Sholom Synagogue. In all cases, we will require a sample invitation.


Tzedakah

Your child should be expected to personally undertake the mitzvah of tzedakah, setting aside for charitable purposes a small portion of the gifts he/she receives. The mitzvah of helping those less fortunate is a very important lesson to learn during the bar/bat mitzvah experience.


Bar & Bat Mitzvah Teachers

Cantor Eric Moses 
Sadie Domb
Leah Weinstein Green
Cantor David Harel
Rachel Urowitz

A Message from Rabbi Flanzraich & Cantor moses

Our tradition teaches that a parent is responsible for the actions of a child until the child reaches the age of legal majority in the Jewish community and assumes full responsibility for observing the commandments and for all his/her deeds. At the age of 13 and a day, a boy becomes bar mitzvah (which means the "age of responsibility for the commandments") and a girl becomes bat mitzvah at the age of 12.

From this moment onward, these young Jewish adults will be counted as part of a minyan (the quorum required for public prayer), are eligible to read Torah publicly, and obligated to fulfill the precepts of Jewish life. Similarly young, Jewish women are counted upon to light their Shabbat candles, and fulfill all of the commandments of Jewish life.

In truth, as many of us know, every Jew becomes a bar mitzvah automatically. It is merely a change of legal status, and it has nothing to do with how much an individual knows or has learned. No ceremony, certificate, or special service has ever been required. However, since now there is an additional member to count in the minyan, it has been customary to celebrate this milestone since the 1300's.

The foundation of what happens to the bar/bat mitzvah is the child's first aliyah: the first time the child is permitted to ascend the bimah and recite the blessings over the Torah on behalf of the congregation. In our Shul, the child will also chant the Maftir portion from the Torah and the Haftarah portion. After the Torah reading is completed it is my honour to call the parents to recite a brief blessing thanking God for the child and their growth into adulthood.

So, those are the details but far from what takes place. In more than 25 years in the rabbinate I have come to see that a Bar and Bat Mitzvah are singular moments in our life: for child and parent. Because of this singularity – because it only happens once in our life – we understand how precious a moment is, and how of all places to celebrate it there is none better than the sanctity of the synagogue in the embrace of community.

Fri, 7 August 2020 17 Av 5780