Becoming a bar or bat mitzvah is more than just an event, it is an experience and a journey that you take with your family and community.
We aim to create a celebration which is meaningful and hope that through the process, you and your family will create a connection to the synagogue and Jewish tradition as well as a personal relationship with the rabbis and community.
Our tradition is unique in that it is defined by actions, not beliefs. Therefore, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah is that seminal moment in your child’s life where, for the first time, they are responsible for their own actions, as Jews.
We celebrate your child coming to this moment, and choosing to become an active member, affirming their identity as a part of Am Yisrael, the people of Israel. The Bar and Bat Mitzvah process is not something we do alone. We do it as a part of a community, actively engaging with one another.
The coming-of-age ceremony has historically consisted of a child being called to the bimah (the platform in a synagogue from which the Torah is read) for the first time to recite the blessings preceding and following the reading of a section from the Torah.
Our students all lead the community in prayer, are called to the Torah, chant from the Torah and if applicable, haftarah and give a d’var Torah, a speech about their Torah reading. The calling of girls to the Torah and giving them full equal rights and responsibilities in Judaism is one of the hallmarks of pluralist Judaism practiced at Emanuel Synagogue and so the ceremonies are identical regardless of gender.
Our synagogue has multiple service options and styles, as well as a variety of service choices for your celebration.
All our services are egalitarian and we encourage active participation from the congregation, joining in the singing and connecting with the prayers and each other.
In our Progressive service prayers are recited in both Hebrew and English and the liturgy is supplemented with poetry and stories.
There are two musical styles on offer: Rabbi Mordecai accompanied by his guitar, or the acapella music of four voices in the Emanuel Ensemble.
You and your family can choose the musical style you prefer for your bar/bat mitzvah celebration.
Our Masorti Service is a traditional service. The prayers are recited in Hebrew and are led by the rabbis and knowledgeable lay leaders, from a traditional siddur.
The music is chanted and sung by the service leaders with congregational participation.
Our Renewal Service focuses on the intention and meaning of the prayers.
It encourages participants to use a variety of different creative ways to connect with the worship experience from meditation and chanting, to discussion and movement. Musical instruments enhance the prayer.
We have a number of different services in which you can celebrate your bar/bat mitzvah…
You may choose a Shabbat morning service in either the Progressive or the Masorti style. Both services contain a Torah and Haftarah reading, in conjunction with the Shabbat prayers.
The bar/bat mitzvah reads the Torah and Haftarah portion for the week and delivers a d’var Torah (a speech in English about their portion.)
You may choose a Shabbat afternoon service. This can be in the Progressive, Masorti or Renewal Style, whichever your family nominates. The Bar/Bat mitzvah leads the prayers and reads from the Torah and delivers a d’var Torah.
Torah is read in the synagogue on Monday and Thursday mornings and a bar/bat mitzvah celebration may be held on one of those mornings. Our regular weekday morning service begins at 7:30am. Although if you choose a public holiday, the time could be moved to later in the morning. At this service, the bar/bat mitzvah will read Torah and lead prayers. It is a traditional/masorti style service.
At the beginning of each Hebrew month we have a special Shacharit service with Torah reading. You can celebrate your bar/bat mitzvah at this service which can be in either the Progressive or Masorti style. The days upon which Rosh Hodesh fall are different every month so consult with us about finding an appropriate month.
The Preparation Process
We hope that our b’nei mitzvah students will emerge from the bar/bat mitzvah experience with us, feeling that Emanuel is their home, that the synagogue is a place of meaning and connection and that they have the tools to go forward and make good choices and decisions about their Jewish lives from a place of knowledge and understanding.
One year before the date of the bar/bat mitzvah, you will be invited to your first meeting with the rabbi.
Each Bar/Bat Mitzvah will work with a rabbi who will supervise their preparation and meet with you and your child approximately every ten weeks.
During these meetings they will discuss the meaning of the prayers and scriptural readings, and other aspects of Judaism.
It is an opportunity for your child to spend time with the rabbi who will be with them during the ceremony and get to know each other better.
During the year, there will be special Bar/Bat Mitzvah activities with the rabbis for all the students and families in the Bar/Bat Mitzvah program. These events are a great opportunity to meet the other Bar/Bat Mitzvah families in our congregation, and to develop your relationship with the rabbis and your connection with synagogue life.
An integral part of the experience of Bar/Bat Mitzvah is the opportunity for the student to conduct parts of the Shabbat services and to read from the Torah and Nevi’im (Prophets).
To acquire the skills to lead the congregation in prayer, each student will have a period of private tuition where they will study the various prayers and scriptural readings for that Shabbat. Sometimes, a parent, grandparent, relative or friend can have the honour of teaching your child.
We also have a number of skilled tutors in our community and they are available to teach either at home or other venue by arrangement.
We take pride in our children in their journey, their learning and all the commitments they undertake.
On the day of their celebration, they will be leading the congregation in prayer and scriptural readings.
It is important for them to become familiar and comfortable with the Shabbat service and so we ask that the students attend services in the year leading to their celebration.
For our bar/bat mitzvah students who don’t attend a Jewish Day School we have a special programme of study called Yesod, meaning, “foundation” in Hebrew.
Our Yesod program runs parallel to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation process, adding a dynamic and social learning environment on our campus to enrich the bar/bat mitzvah experience.
Yesod’s curriculum, developed by Emanuel Synagogue with the Board of Progressive Jewish Education, is designed to give students a holistic, nuanced Jewish education, building the foundation for a rich Jewish life .We also have an online learning programme for those who are unable to attend the Monday afternoon classes.