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The B'Mitzvah Ceremony

Planning the Service

About 6-8 weeks preceding the ceremony, Rabbi Toba meets with each family to go over the service, discussing both the B'Mitzvah’s participation and opportunities for involvement for other family members and friends. This is also a time when the family can make any special requests (like a favorite tune!).
 

Honors & Family Participation

There are a number of ways to involve family members and friends in the ceremony. In addition to the B'Mitzvah themself, it is customary to honor parents, grandparents, and close friends and/or family with aliyot - the honor of being called up to the Torah. There are seven aliyot total. Of those seven, two are reserved for members of the congregation. Other honors include chanting a portion of Torah, opening and closing the ark, lifting and wrapping the Torah after the reading, and doing readings in English during the service. If a younger sibling (or siblings) would like to be involved, please let Rabbi Toba know.

Our policy is to reserve the role of service leader for Rabbi Toba and/or members of Dorshei Tzedek, in addition to the B'Mitzvah. If you have a family member who would like to lead a prayer or a small section of the service, please consult with Rabbi Toba.

Please see the next page entitled “Torah Honors and Blessings.” This is intended for you to send to your guests who will be having the honor of an aliyah to the Torah.

Torah Chanting 

The B'Mitzvah ceremony is an opportunity for family members (especially parents, if they’d like!) and close friends to share the honor of chanting from the Torah along with the B'Mitzvah student. Our primary concern is both “quality control” and not to put undue pressure or possible embarrassment on the guest who is leyning (chanting Torah). While we are able to work fairly closely with a parent who decides to leyn (and if you are able to read Hebrew and would like to chant a section, please ask your child’s tutor to work with you), we are relying on you to make wise choices in terms of inviting others to leyn. In general, a B'Mitzvah ceremony is NOT a good time for a guest to chant Torah for the first time; it is a fairly high-pressure situation. It would be better if you would only ask those people whom you know have experience leyning. We also ask that anyone who is leyning do so from the Torah, not from the chumash (the book form of the Torah), and that they actually chant (and not just read) the portion. If you feel that you have a potentially awkward situation in regard to this with a family member, please be in touch with Rabbi Toba.

Again, we do not want to discourage you from participating in this way — it’s a wonderful thing for a parent to do! If there is a family member (or members) who do have some experience but need a refresher, your tutor should be able to make a recording for them, and may also be able to go over it with them by phone. 

Any Torah readings that you do not give to family and friends can be easily assigned to congregants. Three to four months before the ceremony, please ask your tutor to contact the Ritual Committee chair and let them know how many readings need to be assigned to the general congregation. 

The Role of Non-Jewish Family Members in the Ceremony 

Dorshei Tzedek is a welcoming and inclusive community, and we cherish the participation and support of our non-Jewish members. We especially appreciate the commitment of non-Jewish parents who are raising their children as Jews. We also want to make sure that all non-Jewish family members and friends who attend the ceremony feel welcome and included. There are some traditional ritual boundaries that we observe at Dorshei Tzedek. Most relevant to the B'Mitzvah service, we reserve all honors relating to the Torah — including being called up for an aliyah, opening and closing the ark, and lifting and wrapping the Torah — for those who identify as Jewish. An important exception to this rule is that non-Jewish spouses/partners are welcome to accompany their Jewish partner to the bimah for an aliyah to the Torah. There is a special English blessing for a non-Jewish partner to recite if they so wish, affirming their own connection to Torah and the Jewish people.

Non-Jewish family members or friends can be invited to do English readings, and a non-Jewish parent is invited to give their child a blessing along with the Jewish parent. 


Childcare

Childcare will be available during the service.


Photography & Writing on Shabbat

It is our policy that no photos or videos can be taken during Dorshei Tzedek Shabbat services. We consider this an intrusion on the sanctity of the religious service and a violation of the spirit of Shabbat. Please communicate this to your guests. If you would like a “photo op” of your child reading from the Torah, this can be done in the week prior to the ceremony, when the B'Mitzvah will have the opportunity to read their portion from the Torah scroll. Photography is allowed during the Kiddush; we only ask that you respect the sensibilities of members who may prefer not to be photographed on Shabbat.

Because of the traditional prohibition of writing on Shabbat, it is also Dorshei Tzedek policy that members and guests not be invited to write. This precludes guest books or other types of activities where writing is involved.
 

Next: Torah Honors & Blessings

Tue, June 28 2022 29 Sivan 5782