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Read a message from Temple Israel's clergy that introduces your family to the journey of becoming a B'nai Mitzvah.  Temple Israel Clergy Message

a Commitment to Jewish Education & Identity


Bar or Bat Mitzvah (plural B’nai Mitzvah, abbreviated as B”M) is the title given to a young person becoming a more conscious, intentional, and responsible member of the Jewish community. Children become B’’M simply by turning 13, but it is customary for this transition to be marked by a communal ritual. It is an important step in the transition to adulthood and the acceptance of responsibility for one’s own actions and choices.

As a public acknowledgement, the B’’M ceremony takes place within the context of a worship service at which time a portion from the Torah is read. During the course of that service, the B’’M are given the opportunity to demonstrate that they have acquired the skills to participate in the service and fulfill some of the obligations of Jewish adulthood.

Participation in the service is the heart and the soul of the B’’M ceremony. Through working with gifted teachers and clergy, students will be well prepared to read Torah and/or Haftarah, chant blessings and some prayers, and delve into the text and give a d’var Torah (speech).

Setting a date

1. Prior to compiling the calendar, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Committee reviews with the clergy whether there may be any extenuating circumstances affecting a child’s date. For example, if your child attends summer camp, you may want to consult with the clergy before committing to an early fall date.

2. No Bar/Bat Mitzvah is assigned on Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, or Shabbat Shuvah (the Shabbat between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur). A Bar/Bat Mitzvah may be scheduled on a Rosh Chodesh or Festival upon request to the clergy.

3. No child is promised a single date.

4. In general, a child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah date is scheduled on the nearest available Shabbat to his/her birthday. Each family will be allowed to select the three (3) dates they find most desirable. Every effort will be made to meet those wishes, but priority will go to the child whose birthday falls closest to the requested date. If all three requested dates have been allocated to other children, we will work with you to find a suitable time.

Note: Parents with children who will turn 13 at the beginning of the 7th grade school year may want to consider a Bar/Bat Mitzvah date a few months after the child’s birthday (if possible). The benefit to this is that your 7th grader will have more time to be part of the 7th grade curriculum of the CJL. The 7th grade curriculum emphasizes more adult Jewish themes. The students will learn about the Holocaust and what we can do as Jews to make this world a better place to live, among other topics.

5. In order to avoid potential celebration conflicts, children from the same school district will not be given the same date, unless a specific request has been made to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah committee to keep the children together.

6. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah committee makes every attempt to avoid scheduling dates that pose a known conflict to families but cannot guarantee special privileges.

7. We strongly encourage you to invite the other children in your child’s CJL class to your simcha (celebration), especially the service portion at TINW. This way, they will be able to support their classmates and build community through the collective achievement of this milestone.

Educational Preparation

CJL Enrollment

Temple Israel of Northern Westchester’s B’nai Mitzvah process begins with enrollment in our Center for Jewish Learning (CJL). We ask that families celebrating B”M at Temple Israel enroll their child in CJL religious school no later than the fourth grade. Our program is designed to prepare students and their families as they step into our community as intentional, contributing members. While we understand that our families lead very busy lives, and that our program requires much time and cooperation from all parties, we have found that students who fully commit to at least a three-year process (beginning in fourth grade) are not only the best prepared to stand in front of our community on the day they become Bar or Bat Mitzvah, but also that they gain the most from the overall experience. Only in very rare and extenuating circumstances, at the discretion of clergy, will a student/family be permitted to enter the program at a later date and follow a different track of study.

Attending Services

We ask that the B/BM student and his/her family attend three Friday evening services and three Saturday morning services at Temple Israel of Northern Westchester in the year leading up to BM. This will give families the chance to see firsthand what goes on in our B’nai Mitzvah services so that there are no surprises when the big day comes. All services at Temple Israel are open to the entire congregational community, so feel free to attend a service whenever it fits best into your schedule.

NEW! hebrew boot camp

We are excited to launch our NEW Hebrew Boot Camp, a new individualized tutoring program that serves as a supplement to the CJL curriculum. The program consists of ten private sessions with a tutor, during which students will review the prayers they are expected to know as they become Bar/Bat Mitzvah. The sessions, which will take place via Zoom, are designed to prepare each student for his/her individual sessions with Cantor Fogelman.

Hebrew Boot Camp allows us to individualize our training and will enable our students to spend extra time polishing the material that they are preparing for their Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremonies. We want to get to know each student on a more personal basis earlier in the B’nai Mitzvah process and anticipate that the program will allow us to identify and address any potential learning issues or challenges in advance of a student’s ceremony date.

In most cases, these sessions will take place before the students start their individual work with the Cantor. They will enable each student to get a running start on the required material so that they are well prepared to learn their Torah and Haftarah portions. However, there might be some cases where a student is concurrently enrolled in both tutoring with the Cantor and Hebrew Boot Camp, depending on the calendar.

Each student will be automatically assigned to ten consecutive thirty-minute slots over the course of the school year with one of our tutors. Each student will work with the same tutor for the duration of all ten sessions, who will send out Zoom links for each week’s scheduled session. If the time slots your child was assigned does not work for your family, please contact the office to reschedule:

Accommodating Learning Differences

Each experience is unique! Because every student is different, not every Bar/Bat Mitzvah service will be the same. Some students will lead more prayers than others and some will chant more Torah than others. Our goal is to help every student meet his or her potential so that he or she has a positive experience during this process.

Meetings with Cantor Fogelman

Approximately 3-4 months before the ceremony date, students start studying privately with the cantor for 30 minutes on a weekly basis, (12-14 lessons total). During the time that students attend the B'nai Mitzvah Lab, students will be studying Hebrew and working on their prayers. When they begin private lessons with Cantor Fogelman, they will continue to work on their prayers and begin working on their Torah and Haftarah portions. If your child will be away for the summer (camp, vacation, etc. and has a date in the fall, this process may begin sooner. For more information, please see the section about Torah/Haftarah Readings and Prayers.

Meetings with Rabbi Jaech

Approximately 6-8 weeks before the ceremony date, students start working with Rabbi Jaech on their divrei Torah (speeches).

Mitzvah Project

Each student who becomes Bar/Bat Mitzvah at Temple Israel will complete a Mitzvah Project, which consists of 18 hours of community service. The goal of the project is for students to work towards tikkun olam (repairing the world). The 18 hours of service may be divided among several projects or devoted to just one. The Mitzvah Project is a major component of the 7th grade CJL curriculum and will be discussed in more detail in class. More information is available under the community service header of this document.

Tzedakah Opportunities

Many families wish to honor those who have influenced the life of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Helping other people is the greatest way of honoring family and friends and creates a tone that reflects the Bar/Bat Mitzvah’s and family’s character and ethical concerns. One way to do this is by contributing to the rabbi and the cantor’s discretionary funds and by contributing to one of the temple's many funds. They feel the bar/bat mitzvah experience is an appropriate time to thank the temple community for its part in the spiritual growth of their child. There is no minimum requirement; the gift only need be meaningful to your family.

Other ways to honor your child’s Bar Mitzvah while supporting Temple Israel include:

Tree of Life: A leaf on the Tree of Life in our entrance hall is a wonderful way to honor your child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah ($180/leaf).

Engraved Bricks: Purchase an engraved brick as part of our redesigned walkway. For more information, please visit:

Additional expectations

Family Ushering Responsibility

In order to deepen the sense of community that we have here at Temple Israel of Northern Westchester, we ask that each B”M family serve as ushers at the Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony before yours (this will typically be sometime during the month before yours) for the entire duration of the service. Ushering responsibilities include greeting guests, directing them to the sanctuary, and encouraging guests to behave in a respectful manner. Reminders for ushering will be sent by email. If you have a conflict, you are responsible for finding another family to cover. This service can count as one of the three Saturday morning services you are expected to attend at TINW.

Friday night service

We encourage you to spend the whole weekend celebrating your family’s milestone with the TINW community. On the Friday night prior to your child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony, we invite your family to light the Shabbat candles at the beginning of the service, after which your child will lead the whole congregation in the Friday night Kiddush. This is a great way to extend your child’s simcha to the entire TINW community.

Sanctuary Attire

We encourage all guests and members attending services to dress appropriately for worship. Formal attire (tuxedos, ball gowns, etc.) is not necessary and discouraged. Shorts, t-shirts, strapless, backless, sleeveless dresses, mini-skirts, or see-through clothes are not acceptable. Shoulders must be covered by clothing, not just a tallit. Modest and tasteful dress is encouraged for students and adults alike.

Honoring Family and Friends

In the Saturday morning service, there are several opportunities where you may choose to honor your family and friends. These include opening and closing the ark, dressing and undressing the Torah, and reciting the blessings before and after the Torah reading. The clergy will provide you with more information regarding these honors and responsibilities in the months leading up to your child’s ceremony.


B’nai Mitzvah rehearsals are typically held on the Thursday afternoon before your child’s ceremony from 3-5pm. When possible, we ask that the parents of the B”M attend this rehearsal. Please have your child bring the shoes that he or she will be wearing during the ceremony so that he/she can get used to walking in them.

Parent Speech on Bimah

Parents are given the opportunity to speak to their child on the bimah. Your speech should not take longer than two (2) minutes (approximately 200 words). Your words should reflect your parental hopes and prayers for your child’s future. The clergy are happy to guide you, if you’d like.


Learning the expected prayers, Torah portion and Haftarah portion will take time and practice. Cantor Fogelman suggests that once B”M study begins, students should spend approximately 15 minutes/day studying their material. It is often helpful to find a consistent time for this daily practice. For example, set aside 15 minutes before bedtime or


Following is a list of prayers your child will study. Please help your child by sitting with him/her and the MP3 recordings and go over these prayers. We have found that the best way to learn is for your child to study every day for 15 minutes. 15 minutes – you can do that!

Prayers your child will study: (page numbers are for the Mishkan T’filah published by the Central Conference of American Rabbis and edited by Elyse D. Frishman)

Blessing before the Torah reading p.250

Blessing after the Torah reading p.250

Blessing before the Haftarah reading p.254

Blessing after the Haftarah reading p.254

Shabbat Evening Kiddush p.5

Sh’ma p.200

V’ahavta p.201

Avot v’Imahot p.206

Gevurot p.207

Recordings of each of these prayers can be found on the Temple Israel website at the following address: Repetition is the key and you can help your child be successful during his/her bar/bat mitzvah if you take an active role in helping your child to prepare. Please feel free to contact the Cantor with questions/concerns.

Attending services at Temple Israel is an excellent way to become more comfortable with the prayers.

Your child’s Torah and Haftarah portion correspond with the specific reading assigned to their ceremony date. In their first meeting with Cantor Fogelman, students will study their Torah portion and choose a 9-12 verse excerpt of the portion that piques their interest. As they near the completion of learning their Torah portion, verses of Haftarah are assigned. On average, students typically read about three verses of Haftarah.

community service

There is a community service component of becoming a bar/bat mitzvah. Think of it as putting the “Mitzvah” in Bar/Bat Mitzvah. That requirement can be satisfied by the 7th grade curriculum which includes a community service section. We encourage students to take advantage of this wonderful program and to complete their community service requirement with the rest of the 7th graders. For children who will become a bar/bat mitzvah early in the school year, they do not have to complete their community service requirement before their actual bar/bat mitzvah. The temple understands that the child is working on his/her community service project with their peers, and the project will be completed by the end of the religious school year.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Project Completed with the Religious School:

Temple Israel is delighted to be able to help your child reach the milestone of becoming a bar/ bat mitzvah, but that is not where our Jewish education stops. The 7th grade curriculum is focused on having the students ask themselves what it means to be a Jewish adult. Students will learn about the Holocaust and what we can do as Jews to make this world a better place to live, among other topics.

To successfully complete the 7th grade year, 7th grade students must perform 18 hours of community service. Your child can easily complete their community service requirement through the 7th grade Mitzvah Fair. The Fair is held each fall presents to 7th grade students a variety of community service projects in which they could participate. The students will often choose to work with their friends, and carpool arrangements can make the driving tasks easier on the adults. At the conclusion of the class year, each student is expected to present a poster board or create a power point presentation outlining their community service project.

If your child would like to complete their 7th grade community service project through an organization that is not part of our Mitzvah Fair, he/she must present the project to their religious school teachers for prior approval. The religious school hopes, and expects, that your child will continue their Jewish education with us through the end of 7th grade. After that, the Temple welcomes your child to the higher grades and to continue with their Jewish learning and living.

financial obligations

A child's bar/bat mitzvah is one of the most joyous occasions a Jewish family celebrates and Temple Israel strives to make the memorable occasion as festive, heartwarming and wonderful as possible. This cannot be done without the financial support of our congregants. It is Jewish tradition that congregants must pay all financial obligations to their synagogue and community before a simcha.

Financial Pledges:

Pledges for the current year (and any pledges/dues outstanding from prior years) must be paid in full 30 days prior to the bar/bat mitzvah. If you have a payment plan in place with our temple financial administrator, please make sure lines of communication are kept open so that you and she are both clear on the plan.

School Fees:

The Temple expects that all students will complete the entire 7th grade curriculum, remaining with their grade at least until May, and then hopefully to Hebrew high school. School fees must be paid for the full 7th grade school year, even if your child’s bar/bat mitzvah occurs before the school year ends. Please contact our temple administrator for further information.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Fee:

$900 due upon acceptance of the bar/bat mitzvah date. There is no fee for the use of the Temple, or for the services of the Rabbi or Cantor, for this life-cycle event. Your child will attend additional classes in preparation to become a bar/bat mitzvah and the fee covers the cost of the educators and materials for those additional classes. If you have extenuating circumstances, please contact the Temple Israel Finance Committee directly to discuss your options.  In the event of withdrawal from the bar/bat mitzvah program, the fee is fully refundable up to six (6) months before the bar/bat mitzvah date.

Building Fund:

The Building Fund Fee must be paid in full 12 months prior to the bar/bat mitzvah date.

Please remember that financial obligations must be fulfilled according to the schedule outlined above and provided by our finance committee. Our Temple is here for you and you are a vital part of our community, so please keep the lines of communication open.



In lieu of fresh flowers, you may consider using our silk flowers (at no charge). For fresh flowers, you must have two arrangements approximately 2½ ft wide and 3 ft tall. Items personally associated with the bar/bat mitzvah child, or any non-Jewish seasonal items, are not allowed as part of the arrangement. If using fresh flowers, please make sure they are delivered by 2:30 p.m. on Friday.


Many of our families have dinner with the out-of-town relatives Friday night before. If you would like, you may host a dinner in the Community Room. You may find your own caterer, who must follow Temple guidelines. Please contact the Temple Administrator for more details and to reserve the community room for your dinner. This is done on a first-come-first-served basis. Fee = $350. Capacity = 50 people. Please contact the Temple Office for the Facilities Contract.


Gratuity for the custodians is recommended.


Invitations should reflect the start time of the service as 10:15 am to ensure that guests are seated before the actual start time at 10:30.

LUNCHEON (2-hour max) IN Temple israel's Oneg Room:

If you intend to use the Temple for luncheon following services, please notify the Temple Administrator as soon as possible to reserve the Oneg room on your date. This is done on a first-come-first-served basis. Fee = $350. For further details, please contact the Temple Office for the Facilities Contract.

RECEPTION (5-Hour max) HELD IN Temple israel's ONEG ROOM:

If you intend to use the Temple for the reception party following services, please notify the Temple Administrator as soon as possible to reserve the Oneg room on your date. This is done on a first-come-first-served basis. Fee = $750. If you want to use the Oneg Room and the Community Room the fee is $850. For further details, please contact the Temple Office for Members’ Use of Facilities guidelines.


Food & drink for your Friday night Oneg and Saturday morning Kiddush must be purchased through the Temple office. The fee is $225 per family and covers expenses for lovely Friday night Kiddush platters and a simple Saturday morning Kiddush.


Photographers must set-up their equipment behind all worshippers. This holds true even if additional seating is set-up in the Oneg room. The use of flash is not permitted.


School fees must be paid for the entire 7th grade year, even if your child’s bar/bat mitzvah is early in that school year. While we hope your family will find the CJL experience rewarding and will choose to continue in our program through high school, completing the 7th grade is required, even if your ceremony happens before the end of the school year.


The sanctuary capacity is 221 people. If more than 221 guests are expected, you must notify the Temple Office a month in advance to arrange for additional seating.


We encourage you to reach out with questions or concerns you may have at any point during the B’nai Mitzvah process.

For questions regarding enrollment in Temple Israel of Northern Westchester’s CJL, please contact Rabbi Wendy Pein (

For questions related to finances, reception rentals, ceremony logistics, and sponsoring a Friday night oneg, please contact Robin Safarowic (

For questions regarding scheduling B”M dates, please contact Jenifer McLaughlin, chair of our B”M committee (

For questions regarding ways to honor family and friends in the B’nai Mitzvah ceremony, please contact Rabbi Jennifer Jaech (

For questions regarding Torah and Haftarah readings, prayers, and preparing for the service, please contact Cantor Lauren Fogelman (

In addition to the Rabbi and the Cantor, members of the Bar/Bat mitzvah Committee are available to you throughout your preparation to answer questions and refer you to the appropriate individuals or committees at Temple who can address concerns that may arise.

Setting the date: Jen McLaughlin 772-4401

Congratulations once again on reaching this important milestone in your child and family’s life and Jewish identity. We look forward to learning and celebrating with all of you.

additional resources

Each bar/bat mitzvah celebration is as unique as each student. There are so many options for how you and your family may choose to mark this event. Only you know what is the "right" event for you. If you are at a loss of where to start, we recommend that you talk with relatives, friends, and neighbors. Browse the Internet. Call your bar/bat mitzvah liaison. Just keep asking questions and digging until you find an experience that hits home.

The Temple Israel Sisterhood Judaica shop is a great resource for Tallit and other Judaica items. Simply contact the Sisterhood at

Several local businesses support Temple Israel of Northern Westchester and may be helpful in your planning. Contact Robin in the Temple office if you need additional assistance.

Fri, April 12 2024 4 Nisan 5784