Welcome to this exciting time in your family’s life. To become bar or bat mitzvah (son or daughter of the commandment), means to take ownership of Jewish life. We invite your family to connect deeply with the rhythms, values and practices of Jewish life as you approach this wonderful milestone.
This webpage is your go-to guide for navigating the process. As always, please feel free to reach out to Temple Emanu-El clergy and staff for questions that aren’t covered here. And most of all, enjoy, learn and breathe!
As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our B’nai Mitzvah Coordinator, Hallie Weiner.
•Two parent meetings are held.
•B’nai mitzvah date is assigned.
•Fall family learning session.
•Meet with Hallie Weiner, our b’nai mitzvah coordinator.
•Pay b’nai mitzvah fees, due 12 months before ceremony. The fee covers all materials, tutoring and bimah flowers on the day of the ceremony. Confidential financial assistance is available. (Contact Meredith Pryzant, Director of Member Support)
•Enrollment in Youth Learning + Engagement at Temple Emanu-El or at a Jewish day school is required
•Families are assigned a tutor.
•Worship space is confirmed.
•Students select verses from their Torah portions.
•Clergy assignments are communicated by email.
•Clergy assistants contact families to schedule important meetings with the officiating rabbi and cantor.
•Attend meetings with officiating rabbi and cantor.
•Begin rehearsals in the worship space.
•Fill out The Window submission to share the good news with your Temple community.
Week of Ceremony
•The family is invited to lead the congregation in lighting the candles at the Friday night service.
Participation in 10 hours of community service projects in required during the B’nai Mitzvah process. Our students are introduced to the study and practice of tikkun olam and to different ethical mitzvot (commandments), such as feeding the hungry, visiting the sick and more. As they become adults in the eyes of the community, giving back to the community becomes an even greater value.
Hospitality and warmth are important values at Temple Emanu-El, and greeters for b’nai mitzvah services help ensure that everyone who comes to Temple on Shabbat feels welcome and comfortable in the service. Sixth graders and their families are encouraged to welcome guests at the ceremonies of their friends and other members of the class. Responsibilities include arriving early, saying a friendly “Shabbat Shalom” to those arriving for the service, handing out prayer books, inviting people to choose a seat and staying in the lobby or foyer for the first few minutes after the service begins to welcome latecomers, before going into the service themselves.
Once you sign up to participate in this part of the b’nai mitzvah program, you will get an email 10 days before the service with a friendly reminder and more details about the role.
As part of preparation for bar or bat mitzvah, it is important to become more familiar with and involved in prayer at Temple. Attendance is required at the following Temple Emanu-El services of your choosing:
3 Friday night services (6:15 p.m. every Friday)
2 B’nai mitzvah services (10:30 a.m. and/or 4:30 p.m. most Saturdays)
1 Congregational Shabbat morning service led by one of our cantors (10:30 a.m. every Saturday)
Please refer to The Window, The Weekly and tedallas.org/events for more details on the schedule of b’nai mitzvah services and clergy leadership.
You will be assigned a tutor to help prepare you every step of the way.
I started my career as a teacher in the Israeli Army for new immigrants. I’m passionate about the Hebrew language and therefore decided to continue teaching when I relocated to the US. I worked for an Israeli high tech company full time, and for the past 30 years, have tutored students as well. I love my students because they are my inspiration.
I wear many hats at Temple Emanu-El but my favorite by far, is B’nai Mitzvah Tutor. I am passionate about teaching and communicating that enthusiasm to my students. I am thrilled to be one of the tutors at Temple.
I am a Hebrew teacher and B’nai Mitzvah tutor. I was born in Israel and became a certified teacher from Levinsky Seminar, Tel Aviv. I have been teaching Hebrew, Jewish studies and B’nai Mitzvah students for over 25 years in the Dallas area and love art and music. I am so happy to be part of the Temple Emanu-El team.
The opportunity to study prayers and Torah with students as they prepare for the Bar and Bat Mitzvah services is a tremendous privilege. To witness their growth from first hesitant phrases to chanting verses from the Torah scroll with confidence is like receiving a precious jewel each and every time.
Becoming B’nai Mitzvah is an exciting time in the lives of our members and the life of our community. When our students become B’nai Mitzvah, they are, in essence, saying that they are ready to take on the responsibilities of being a knowledgeable, responsible Jew. They are invited to lead the service, chant from the Torah and the Haftarah (the prophetic reading), and write and deliver a D’var Torah, a teaching from their Torah portion. This is truly a moment to celebrate. At Temple Emanu-El, we revel in the fact that another young person has connected to our traditions and teachings.
Each service is unique, with family involvement that’s just right for you. Here are some examples of how your loved ones can participate in the service.
• Presenting the tallit
• Opening and closing the ark
• Reciting the blessings over the Torah (aliyah)
• Undressing or dressing the Torah
• Holding the Torah
• Passing the Torah from generation to generation
Parents are invited to offer a brief blessing to their child. Speaking to your child after they read from the Torah is a rare and precious moment in a parent’s life. When preparing your blessing, please make certain the blessing is about your child’s character, your hopes and dreams for your child and about the value of Torah, tradition, family and Jewish commitment. The most successful blessings do not exceed one page per parent.
Temple Emanu-El regularly organizes family missions to Israel that include bar and bat mitzvah celebrations. This is a transformative experience on personal, family and communal levels. Contact Rabbi Amy Rossel for details.
If you are having a service in Israel but not on a TE trip, we are there for you! If you are Temple members in good standing and your child is enrolled in one of our schools, our tutors and clergy will help prepare your child. Please note that while our clergy cannot officiate the service in Israel, we do recommend several wonderful rabbis in Israel with whom we work closely. Additionally, we invite your family to join us for a Friday night service, to light the Shabbat candles so we can honor your family during this exciting milestone in your child’s life.
We are thrilled when families choose Temple’s beautiful spaces for their celebrations. Contact our Director of Events, Chevie Valentine to book the perfect space for your needs.
Please dress appropriately and respectfully for the service. Avoid jeans or torn clothing, and wear shoes that allow confidence and comfort for carrying the Torah. Students are welcome to change afterward for the celebration. Should they choose to, b’nai mitzvah students and their guests are welcome to wear tallitot or kippot, provided by Temple. If you choose to provide custom kippot, please set them next to the prayer books so that guests entering can pick them up.
The B’nai Mitzvah fee covers all tutoring, materials, security, and the flowers for the service. Our families also receive a digital video recording of their service.
Still photographs and preliminary videography should be completed 20 minutes prior to the start of the service. Still or time-lapse photography is not permitted during the service. Videographers must be located in the balcony or loft during the service and may not use artificial lighting. Officiating clergy can be available for posed photographs before or after the service. Every family will receive a livestream link to share with friends and family who cannot make it in person. They will also receive a digital recording the week following the service.
Students will be featured in The Window, Temple’s magazine, during their b’nai mitzvah month. Please submit the information on time as requested in the email that will be sent approximately two months before the service.
The clergy are here to work with your family. Please contact Hallie Weiner if your child has a learning difference and/or needs a unique approach toward preparation. We are committed to creating an individualized learning plan that will ensure your child’s success.
It is our greatest wish that your child’s B’nai Mitzvah be a true simcha – filled with meaningful moments, joyful learning, and a chance for growth on a personal and spiritual level. With the idea of “joyful learning” in mind, we would ask you to share any disability, learning differences, support or accommodations or anything that would help us work with your child to make this a truly incredible experience. We understand that, as parents, you know and understand what works best for your child and are asking you to partner with us to meet this tremendous goal in the best way possible. Please let us know if you would like to discuss any accommodations or support.
Here at Temple Emanu-El our B’nai Mitzvah services are inclusive of all family members. We have bimah honors to be assigned with the help of your officiating clergy. There are multiple opportunities in the service for both parents to stand with and offer blessings to their child. We also have a special English blessing that the non-Jewish parent can offer as part of the parents’ Torah Aliyah. Every service is tailored to the family and we will work with your family to make your service warm and inclusive.
The rabbi and cantor for your celebration will be assigned approximately 5 months in advance. Clergy are assigned on a rotational basis and understandably not all clergy are available on all weekends. If you have a relationship with one of our clergy, please let us know. While we cannot promise to honor specific requests, this information is nevertheless helpful to us.
All students are eligible to become B’nai Mitzvah at TE during a six month window, three months leading up to their 13th birthday and three months after their 13th birthday. The B’nai Mitzvah date selection process occurs three years before the student’s 13th birthday. Students becoming B’nai Mitzvah on Temple Emanu-El Israel trips have greater flexibility with eligibility. A student can become B’nai Mitzvah on an Israel trip from age 12 to age 14.
See this document for a list of Hebrew words and phrases to guide you on the journey.
@13 podcast – a six-episode podcast series for parents and pre-teens
Bim Bam – videos on each Torah portion
Union of Reform Judaism Torah portions