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Becoming B'nei Mitzvah
at Temple Sinai!

temple sinai sanctuary empty.jpg

Mazel tov!


B’nei mitzvah is the culmination of protracted study and learning and marks the transition from childhood to young adulthood.  It is a greatly anticipated milestone in a Jewish child’s life and is occasion for joyous celebration.  


This handbook will help you prepare for the ceremony itself as well as for celebrations that typically accompany it.



Erev Shabbat & Shabbat AM services 



Friday PM oneg

Friday PM dinner (optional)

Saturday simple kiddush

Saturday lunch/dinner/party (optional)


B’nei mitzvah services include a Friday evening erev (night before) Shabbat service at either 6 or 8 PM (depending on the time of year) and a Shabbat (Saturday) morning Torah service.  The Saturday service is the “main attraction” for your kid, but your family participates in the Friday evening service, as well.


Friday PM

Your family will kindle the Shabbat candles.  The b’nei mitzvah child will chant Kiddush and another prayer.  That’s it. The rest is up to the clergy. ;-)

Saturday AM

It may seem amazing to you now, but your child will actually lead Shabbat morning worship with support of the clergy, including: 


  • Blessings and prayers in Hebrew

  • Solo and responsive readings in English

  • Torah and Haftarah chanting and d’var (text explication)


Your main responsibilities include:


  • Familiarity with the prayer service

  • Assigning honors

  • Delivering a blessing for your child



Though you may feel like you have just two years to prepare for this major life event, the fact of the matter is that your child is way ahead of you.  Typically, by the end of sixth grade, the b’nei mitzvah student already knows how to read and chant all the Shabbat service prayers.

The Seventh-Grade Family Program is a specially-designed experience in early Fall during which the meaning of becoming b’nei mitzvah is explained.  Students, whether already b’nei mitzvah or preparing to become b'nei mitzvah, will be helped to better understand the ritual and to uncover the importance of such Jewish values as tzedakah (morally obligated giving) and tikkun olam (repairing the world).

Clergy & Tutors

Approximately nine months prior to becoming bar/bat/b'mitzvah, your child will meet with Rabbi Till, who will present your child’s portion and suggest a number of verses to be chanted and explained.


Eight months beforehand, your child will meet with Cantor Braun, who oversees b'nei mitzvah tutoring.  A tutor (paid by family; rate set by Temple Sinai) will be assigned to assist with reading and chanting the Hebrew of the Torah portion and prayers/blessings.


Three months before "game time," your child will transition to meeting with Cantor Braun for continued preparation. 


Throughout their b'nei mitzvah preparation, your child will consult with Rabbi Till in the drafting of a d'var Torah (or drash). During this b’nei mitzvah “speech,” students relate the significance of their Torah and Haftarah portions and thank the people - generally the clergy and their parents - who have supported them in becoming b'nei mitzvah.

Preparation "tools" at your child's disposal will include:

  • Torah/Haftarah booklet (that includes their assigned portions in their entirety, along with ancient and modern commentary)

  • Audio recordings of the prayers and blessings

  • Audio recordings of the Torah and Haftarah portions

  • Optional trope (cantillation) notation of the Torah and Haftarah portions

Service attendance

Students are expected to attend 10 services in each of the 6th and 7th grades, including at least five b’nei mitzvah services within six months of their own ceremony, in order to gain comfort and familiarity.  (Please note that there are no July - and generally few August - b'nei mitzvah, so plan accordingly!)


B'nei mitzvah guests and participants are asked to dress and act in a manner respectful of the location and occasion.  .

Final preparations

One month out from the b'nei mitzvah ceremony, your family’s excitement is mounting, but unfortunately, so are your nerves. No worries - the Temple Sinai clergy are there to help you round home plate.  About 3-4 weeks before the big occasion, your family will meet with Rabbi Till to go through the service, ensure that honors have been assigned and ask questions.  You will also schedule a sanctuary rehearsal to make sure your family have got the mechanics of the service down pat.  You should feel cool as a cucumber when the big day arrives.


Friday PM

  • Oneg - your family is expected to sponsor (see Timeline)

  • Dinner - optional dinner for personal guests that either follows (6 PM service) or precedes (8 PM service) the erev Shabbat service; it can be hosted at Temple Sinai (for a nominal fee) or at an off-site location


  • Kiddush - your family is expected to provide a simple kiddush of baked goods (see Timeline)

  • Lunch or Dinner/Party (optional)

    • Families are welcome to host a private or congregational lunch immediately following the ceremony or to return later for a private dinner or party in the Social Hall

      • The Social Hall is reserved for your family's exclusive use on the day of the b'nei mitzvah service


Ceremony                                                                   Celebration

Scheduling letter with tentative date assignment

    Date confirmation

Select portion, begin tutoring


Commence tzedakah project


Confirm weekend logistics with Executive Director)

Submit service program to Rabbi Till for approval

Meet with Rabbi Till and/or Cantor Braun


Family assigns aliyot and other honors




























Begin to make the following arrangements:

  • Venue (if not Social Hall)

  • Caterer

  • Photographer

  • Music, other entertainment

  • Flowers, other decoration

Review contract with Executive Director


Finalize event details (caterer, photographer, etc.)

Mail save-the-date cards


Mail invitations

Final review of contract, incl. set-up and other event logistics


Mazel tov!
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