Bar and Bat Mitzvah

Bar and Bat Mitzvah

At Edgware and Hendon Reform Synagogue we celebrate every child’s coming of age at thirteen in the equivalent way. Both men and women read or leyn from the Torah, both give a D’var Torah to explain their portion to the congregation and to bring out its meaning in their lives. Both get to celebrate within our Shabbat morning service with friends, family, and our regular synagogue congregation.

You are most welcome to contact any of our Rabbis or Marian Cohen in the EHRS Education and Youth Team, to begin to speak about your child celebrating their Bar or Bat Mitzvah. We are very experienced at working with children who have special learning needs and are delighted to help them to express themselves in whatever way they can. Our Rabbis and B’nei Mitzvah Tutors are delighted to teach any child and to help them to gain enjoyment and pride from the experience whatever their starting point. Children with one Jewish parent are equally welcome as those with two Jewish parents and we endeavour always to enable both parents and siblings to be fully involved in the process. Adults are welcome to celebrate Bar or Bat Mitzvah too. Again, our Rabbis will be delighted to help you to prepare. If you missed the opportunity to celebrate when you were thirteen, it is never too late!

We would love to hear from you if you would like to be part of the EHRS Bar or Bat Mitzvah process. Any questions? Ask any of our Rabbis or Marian Cohen at EHRS.

How the learning happens
The EHRS Bar and Bat Mitzvah process begins with a meeting with Rabbi Mark Goldsmith. This typically happens when a child is in Year 6 at school and so a couple of years away. However, you are welcome to ask for a meeting later. At that meeting we set a date for the Bar or Bat Mitzvah and explain the whole process and especially its meaning in the life of your child.
Four school terms before your child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah date, they will be assigned an individual tutor from our panel of expert teachers. This tutor will teach your child to leyn or read their Torah portion, their Haftarah (a portion from elsewhere in the Bible), how to lead the Kiddush (the prayers of appreciation for the food and drink we enjoy after the service) and, if they have been a frequent attender of Shabbat services, how to lead part of the service for the community.
They join our four term Friday afternoon learning programme taught by our Rabbis and expert educators. This teaches them about the Jewish meaning of this point in their lives, about the sources of Jewish teaching, the meaning and content of Jewish services and Jewish traditions for leading a good and ethical life. In the final term every Bar and Bat Mitzvah student works with a mentor who celebrated themselves a year or two before. They practice together and learn about such aspects of making the Bar or Bat Mitzvah effective as voice projection, so their hard work can be heard during the service. We encourage every student to come to the Friday night or Saturday morning service of the Synagogue so that they can truly build their place in our community.

It’s more than learning – it’s your introduction to adult Jewish life
At EHRS Bar and Bat Mitzvah is also about making wonderful friendships. Our Rabbis and educators take the young people away on an ‘outward bound’ Shabbaton weekend during the year so that they get to know each other as more than fellow students. We also run a post Bar and Bat Mitzvah weekend away in a European Jewish community. Every Friday before the classes our Youth Leaders offer a ‘drop-in club’ to create a friendly and welcoming space for all.
Twice a term we invite all of our Bar and Bat Mitzvah families to a Torah Breakfast before the Saturday morning service where our Rabbis teach the whole family together on topics related to the Bar and Bat Mitzvah curriculum Once a term we hold a family Shabbat dinner at the Synagogue, with our students helping to lead the service for the community before it. We help parents to be involved and informed with meetings to help you to know what to do to support your young people through their learning.
In the final weeks before the Bar or Bat Mitzvah Shabbat the Rabbi or Cantor who is officiating the service that morning will work with the young person to create their D’var Torah and to build on their relationship with them from the Friday classes.

The big day
Then the big day! Bar and Bat Mitzvah students are welcome to ask anyone they would like to come to the Shabbat morning service, friends, family, truly anyone. Their ceremony is part of our regular service and so the whole community is delighted to welcome them. We will do our best to involve people of special significance to our B’nei Mitzvah in the service.