B'nei Mitzvah

Congratulations! You're on your way to becoming a bar/bat mitzvah!  There are many aspects to your journey,  and it might feel overwhelming but don't worry, most everything you need is located on this page. If you make good use of this information, add to it some diligent study and patience, you will have a recipe for success.  Again, Mazel Tov! Good luck on your Bar/bat Mitzvah adventure. 

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Table of Contents


For Students

For Families

Getting Started

To begin you'll need a 2" 3-ring binder to bring with you each time you meet with your tutor. Please print the linked documents below, hole-punch, and add to your binder. The Rabbi or tutors will provide or ask you to print additional materials as you continue your learning.

To Be Printed:​


  • Purple Torah Portion Book (Sent by Temple via email when you begin process)

Additional required reading but not necessary to print


Additional Forms

To be completed and returned to the office 

3-4 weeks prior to your service date

3 months prior to your service date

The B’nei Mitzvah Training Program  

The B’nei Mitzvah Training Program consists of:

  • Individual sessions and tutoring sessions with the Rabbi or congregation employed/approved tutor will begin 10-12 months prior to your child’s bar/bat mitzvah date.  Sessions will occur regularly on Sunday mornings. There will be regular check-ins for the first 4-5 months. This time will be used to acquire a strong Hebraic foundation vis-à-vis the Prayers and the Torah portion.


  • After the initial 5 months (approximately the 4-month to BM-Day mark) we will begin the more intensive tutoring sessions which will include: haftarah portion, discussion of and assignments related to understanding the Torah portion. At this time we will reassess and shift to once a week if needed.


  • Sessions will be held on the premises of Temple Kol Tikvah. During the school year, most will occur during  Sunday School time (9:30-11:45AM). Some students may need to be scheduled immediately before Hebrew school or during the Wednesday later afternoon-evening tutoring time set aside by Rabbi Lipper. Makeup lessons may happen over skype/facetime. Summer tutoring will occur on Wednesdays with rare exceptions.


  • One or two rehearsals with a rabbi in the sanctuary.

  • A parent is expected to stay on premises for all rehearsals outside of Sunday School.

  • The temple has a pre-approved supplemental tutor for students who need or want additional support to master their prayers, or Torah portion.  Some students may be asked to pursue supplemental tutoring in addition to their religious school studies before entering the B’nei Mitzvah Training Program.

  • Each student will have a GOOGLE DOC that will be shared with parents/guardians. Assignments will be updated after each session and most Torah portion and prayer recordings will be linked directly on this page.



Service/Study Guide:

Each student is responsible for preparing their binder of materials from the files found on Temple Kol Tikvah B’nei Mitzvah Central web page and additional materials emailed or provided by the Temple. Students are meant to bond with this binder!  Materials will be added as they continue their training. Please remind your child to bring materials to every tutoring session AND every meeting with the rabbi!


Study Time:

While learning styles vary, students are expected to study their Hebrew daily for 15-30 minutes.  It is not enough to only practice during tutoring sessions. Try breaking up study time into mini-sessions of 10 minutes each, focusing on one area of study: the t’filot (prayers), the parashah (Torah portion), the d’var Torah (sermon), and the haftarah. There is a great deal for each student to master. Please make sure that there is adequate time set aside for practice. Athletics, music, dance etc. require lots of practice, and so does Hebrew. Having set study times and encouragement from you will make all the difference in your child’s competency and comfort at their B’nei Mitzvah. Once the student has learned all material, it is imperative that review continues on a daily basis;  The more prepared, the less nervous the student will be!



After a student has completed learning their Torah Portion and all of the required prayers, they will have the opportunity to learn a Haftarah portion, and the prayers before and after reading it.


Haftarah is an additional selection that corresponds to the appropriate Torah portion. Haftarah comes from the Book of Prophets and can either be chanted/read in Hebrew or English. The Haftarah is chanted to a different cantillation system and is sung in a minor key. Haftarah is chanted off a piece of paper, students do not need to memorize the vowels or cantillation marks.

Writing Your D’var Torah

D’var Torah means “a word of Torah,” and is the Hebrew term for a text based sermon. It is through this D’var Torah that the b’nei mitzvah student teaches their personal message.  It starts with some aspect of the weekly portion and develops from there.


Provided here is a simple outline for creating a D’var Torah.You will have a series of meetings with the rabbi to help prepare. There is not one set model for writing a D’var Torah, many different approaches are acceptable. The D’var Torah should be approximately 5-7 pages, double-spaced in 16-18 point font.


In general, the D’var Torah is trying to accomplish the following:

  • Gain a grasp of the context and content of the weekly portion.

  • Explore some theme(s) or aspect(s) of interest – one, two, or three things at the most—which can be developed.

  • Personal reflection and sharing


The D’var Torah can be written in the format of a persuasive essay or even a book report. Unlike school projects where parents want their child to operate independently, parents should feel free to actively participate in this learning process with their child, as long as it is productive for both parent and child. Some Torah portions are more accessible than others.


The Goals of the D’var Torah:

  • To Learn about the Torah and Judaism

  • To Teach the Congregation some of what you have learned

  • To Share a part of yourself


So what’s in a D’var Torah/Sermon?


  • Summary – should include the name of the portion, the name of the book you are chanting from and a summary of what happens in your reading. Some context may also be helpful i.e., where we are in the Torah and/or what happens before and/or after your reading.


  • Transition/focus – the aspect(s) of the portion you are going to focus on. Describe what you think your parashah is teaching. KEY QUESTION: What kind of message are these ancient words saying to you? “The aspect of this portion I find most interesting is…”


  • Exploration – what does Jewish tradition have to say about your focus? What other information can you bring to this subject that brings it alive and makes it relevant to the congregation?


  • Your opinion – How do you relate to the issue(s) you raised? An illustration from the Bat/Bar mitzvah’s own experience is often helpful here.


  • Conclusion - A summary of what you have learned/taught and what you will walk away with as  a Bat/Bar mitzvah.


Optional: write a short prayer (in English, beginning with “Dear God ...”) to complete your D’var Torah. What do you hope for or wish ... regarding the ideas you’ve presented above for yourself, your family, friends, and the world?

The Mitzvah Project


Throughout the B’nei program, students, and by extension, families learn about tzedakah (charitable giving), tikkun olam (repair of the world), and g’milut chasadim (acts of loving kindness). Projects can be a short-term volunteer commitment to a program or organization, or anything that enhances the lives of others or protects/preserves the environment. Almost all Mitzvah projects are acceptable, and there are not a set number of required hours that must be put into the project. Although, as with most things, the more you put into it, the more you will receive!


  Need an idea for a project? Look at http://www.jchoice.org.



Policy regarding adults and children on Temple Kol Tikvah premises:

Temple Kol Tikvah staff and clergy (including, but not limited to, religious school teachers, tutors, rabbi, office and maintenance personnel whether employees of Kol Tikvah, contractors or volunteers) who meet privately with minor children in connection with synagogue or religious school matters, will at all times make every reasonable effort to maintain the maximum visibility possible by:


  • Leaving doors open, when practical.

  • Meeting in plain view or in public spaces of the building whenever possible.


This policy is intended to protect the safety and well-being of both children and adults when they are together on the grounds or in buildings at Temple Kol Tikvah.


B’nei Mitzvah Service Summary

At Temple Kol Tikvah, the young person helps lead services on Friday night as well as on Saturday. The Friday evening before the Bar/Bat Mitzvah, the family will be invited to the bimah to light the Shabbat candles, and the young person will lead Barchu, Shema, and V’ahavta.


On Saturday Morning, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah leads most of the service as Sh’liach Tzibur (leader of worship), including chanting from the weekly Torah and Haftarah portions, and delivering a D’var Torah (sermon) on the meaning of the portion read.


Photography and Videography:

Photography, please note:

·Any posed photography must be finished by 10:00am for the Shabbat morning service.

  • No flash photography is allowed during service, and photographer must remain stationary.


Videography, please note:

·Videographers must be stationed at the back of the sanctuary during the service.


Once the service is over, photographers or videographers are free to take footage, with or without flash, and from any location in the sanctuary or adjoining areas.


Bimah Appropriate Clothing for Students


What to wear?


At your Bat/Bar Mitzvah, YOU are representing the entire congregation.

  • If what you’re wearing distracts from the service and your role in it, choose other clothing to wear.

  • This is not about you! It’s about prayer, God, and our community. It’s not the time or place for attracting attention.

Your clothing should be appropriate to sacred space and sacred time, reflect modesty and humility before God, and be dignified and festive without being ostentatious.



What do I wear on my special day?

  • Wear clean, simple clothing that you might wear to a job interview.

  • Wear clothing that doesn’t distract from the religious service. (That is, clothes that don’t reveal shoulders, thighs, cleavage, midriff or undergarments, and aren’t see- through.)

  • Wear clothing that respects everyone’s comfort level. Don’t wear clothes that you’d wear to a pool party or the beach.​

Family Information

Honors During The Service


Order of Service Worksheet

Honors are an important part of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah service. Family and friends who are given honors cease to be observers and become active participants. Below is a basic guide to Bar/Bat Mitzvah honors.


Parents, as well as additional members of the family, may be honored by being called up (Aliyot) to recite the blessings before and after the Bar/Bat Mitzvah reads each section of the Torah. Parents will have an opportunity together or separately to offer a special blessing to their child.



It is customary for all worshippers attending the Shabbat morning service to participate in the Kiddush nosh afterward. Generally, 10-15 congregants will attend. The kiddush can range from very basic (challah, wine and hors d’oeuvres or dessert only) to a full luncheon.


Everyone should have an opportunity to say Mazal Tov to the parents and their child. If you plan an extended Kiddush lunch with entertainment at Temple Kol Tikvah, all worshippers are invited. 



Besides kvelling (untranslatable), the parental involvement in a Bar/Bat Mitzvah service includes:

  • Lighting candles on Friday night.

  • Participating in the handing down of the Torah.

  • Having the third aliyah, which involves reciting the Torah blessings.

  • Offering a prayer for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Guidelines for these prayers must be followed. The offering must not exceed 400 words and must not embarrass your child or make a larger statement about politics or something unrelated.


Other opportunities for Honors:

An aliyah is the act of being called to the Torah.  There are two parts to an aliyah: the blessing before the reading of the Torah and the blessing after the reading of the Torah (see Prayer for Torah Service, following page). Each Bar/Bat Mitzvah has a total of four aliyot:


  • The first aliyah is for friends and/or family.

  • The second aliyah is for the parent(s).

  • The third aliyah is for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah.

  • Additional aliyot are possible if the Bar/Bat mitzvah is chanting 15+ verses of Torah.


To better understand the details of an aliyah, please see “Aliyah Primer” below. You may find it helpful to copy and share this page with your friends and family who will be participating in this special honor.


During the service the ark is opened three times and the Torah is passed down from generation to generation. In addition to Aliyot and the passing down of the Torah from generation to generation, other honors that can be given include:


  • The opening and closing of the ark

  • A g’lilah (Torah dresser)

  • There are also some English readings throughout the service that may be handed out as honors.


The Participation of Non-Jews:

Temple Kol Tikvah welcomes the participation of non-Jewish family and friends. Non-Jewish family and friends may participate in appropriate English readings, ark openings, and, if accompanied by a Jewish partner, they may recite Torah blessings. We strive to make the whole family feel at home during the service. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Rabbi.

The Involvement of Younger Siblings and Children:

Siblings or other young children should be given age-appropriate honors, such as helping to dress the Torah or opening the ark. Siblings may also help in leading the Motzi, blessing over the challah at the conclusion of the Kiddush. Siblings over age 13 can be given an aliyah.

Aliyah Primer:

Here are the basic fundamentals of being called to the Torah  (aliyah) at Temple Kol Tikvah. Meaning to “go up” or “ascend,” aliyah also implies a spiritual ascent. An aliyah is considered to be one of the most sacred privileges in Judaism. Consequently, you must be Jewish and “of age” (i.e. older than 13) to qualify for an aliyah. Indeed, the service of Bar/Bat Mitzvah is a celebration of a child’s first aliyah. Non-Jewish partners are welcome to accompany and participate with their Jewish partner for an aliyah.

Hebrew Name:

Traditionally you would be called to the Torah by your Hebrew name.  This includes not only your given name but the name(s) of your father and/or mother.  The formula would thus be:


  • For men                      Ya’akov ben Avraham v’Sarah

  • For women                  Rachel bat Avraham v’Sarah


Although Hebrew names are the standard for this tradition, Yiddish names are also common. If you do not have a Hebrew name, we can use your English name. This could also be a great opportunity to contact our rabbis about acquiring a Hebrew name.


Going Up:

When your name is called, approach the bimah (pulpit) from the right of the congregation.   Stand to the left of the Bat/Bar Mitzvah. The Bat/Bar Mitzvah will point to the place in the sefer Torah (scroll) where she or he is reading. Touch that spot with the tzitzit (fringes) of your tallit (prayer shawl) or the corner of your siddur (prayer book) and then, if you like, kiss the tzitzit or the siddur. At this point the Bat/Bar Mitzvah will close the scroll and you will begin the b’rachah (blessing). Some people, while reciting the b’rachah, choose to grasp the two wooden posts of the scroll.


Prayers for Torah Service:

Below is the blessing recited in Hebrew prior to the reading of the Torah. You should recite the first line, wait for the congregation to respond with the second line, and then repeat that second line, and read the rest of the first blessing.






























Download as a PDF


About the Service

Since this is a religious service, you should wear clothes that show respect for yourself, for others, and for a house of worship. Please avoid bare shoulders, bare midriffs, very short skirts, and shorts. Clothes that are neat, clean and on the modest side are appropriate. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah will be wearing formal clothing, but you don’t have to go that route. If you are going to the party in the evening, you can dress up or down as appropriate – the party is not a religious event.


At synagogues, you’ll see some people wearing a kippah (pronounced “kee-pah”), which is a simple, round head covering that is a way of showing respect. It in no way implies adherence to the Jewish religion or a belief in God. It is traditionally worn only by males; however, at Temple Kol Tikvah, it is appropriate for both men and women to wear. You will see a receptacle with them as you enter the synagogue, so don’t worry about rushing out to buy your own!


You’ll also see some people wearing a fringed prayer shawl, called a tallis or tallit. This signifies that the person wearing it is has become a bar or bat mitzvah.

How long is the service, and what am I supposed to do during it?


The Shabbat morning service at our synagogue begins at 10:30am, and attendees should be seated before then. You might plan to arrive with someone else, so you can arrive and sit with a friend. The service usually ends between 12:00 and 12:30pm. Please schedule your family and friends reception for 1:30 or later.


While some of the service may seem foreign to you, you can follow and read along as you feel comfortable either in a prayer book or with our projected service on the wall. In the prayer book, you’ll see that all the Hebrew is translated. The service leaders will frequently announce page numbers. Everyone will stand and sit at different points, and you are welcome to participate in a way that you are comfortable with. Enjoy and listen to the music; in Jewish tradition, it’s always okay to sing or hum along when the congregation is singing, even if you don’t know the words.


Please respect the congregants and the synagogue by refraining to chat among yourselves when the service is going on. Also, please make sure to silence your cell phones and refrain from taking pictures during the service.

Scheduling & Logistics


It is expected that all members of your child’s B’nei Mitzvah class will be invited to every Bar/Bat Mitzvah service and that either all or none of the class will be invited to the formal party after the service, if one is held. This reflects our congregation’s commitment to inclusion and building community.

  • Order invitations at least 3 months in advance

  • Mail invitations to guests 1-2 months before Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony

  • The invitation should reflect the significance of the moment. It should emphasize the centrality of the young person within the service, and that this is a religious life cycle event.


Example: “With pride, (parent’s name) and (parent’s name) invite you to share in our simcha as (student’s name) becomes a Bar/Bat Mitzvah on (day), at (time). Please join us at Temple Kol Tikvah, 605 South Street, Davidson, NC 28036. A Kiddush nosh will be held immediately after the service.”

Another alternative is to set up a Bar/Bat Mitzvah website, such as that found on http://mitzvahs.myevent.com/1/designs.htm. Make your design personal. You can even include information about your Mitzvah Project!

Tallit and Kippah:

It is customary for the family to give the Bar/Bat Mitzvah a special tallit. They may be ordered and purchased online and should be ordered several months in advance. If you have trouble finding one, please contact the synagogue and someone will be happy to help you. It is also appropriate to pass down a tallit with special family significance or a gift from a relative. Some people order kippot with personalized information such as the name and date on them. Kippot should reflect the sanctity of Shabbat.

Many families choose to have a party to celebrate their child’s accomplishment on Saturday afternoon or evening. Please remember this is a religious event in your child’s life and themes should be appropriate. 


Temple Kol Tikvah would like to publish your child’s photograph in the newsletter during the month of their Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Please provide the Temple office with a picture of your child 2 months prior to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah. The picture should be a close-up of your child’s face and shoulders. About me form


Tzedakah Suggestions


We must remember that becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah is not something that happens on a particular Shabbat. One truly becomes a Bar/Bat Mitzvah when he/she has achieved a proper grounding in the sources of Jewish knowledge, has participated in the totality of Jewish life and has become aware of the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam, the understanding that we are partners with God in making the world whole. A part of Tikkun Olam is participating in tzedakah, the mitzvah of sacred giving.


It is customary to celebrate life events by giving tzedakah to a charity of your choice. In a world filled with hunger and homelessness, a contribution to Ada Jenkins or some other social service organization would be appropriate.


Donations in Honor of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah:

As part of Jewish life, a traditional way to give thanks to God for a joyous event is to make a donation to the community in the name of the one who is being honored, as well as for the honored individual to make a donation as a way of showing appreciation.


We recommend that you encourage family and friends to honor the Bar/Bat Mitzvah through a donation to one of the many synagogue funds (Religious School, Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund, Scholarship Fund, General Fund, Camp Scholarship Fund, Caring Committee, etc. For a more complete listing, please see the website).


Temple Kol Tikvah Tree of Life

Etch your next Simcha on Temple Kol Tikvah’s Tree of Life!


The party’s over. The toasts have been made. The thank you notes are mailed. The memory of your simcha is fading. On the upside, however, Temple Kol Tikvah now offers you a unique way to make your simcha last season after season, year after year – with our Tree of Life. Proudly displayed in our sanctuary, your leaf or foundation stone commemorates the happy events that touch your life and the lives of your family and friends.


To order, please call 704-987-9980 or pick up an order form at the temple office or complete online

Rules governing food served at Temple Kol Tikvah

Food is essential to life. Not surprisingly, Jewish law and tradition place a great emphasis on food. In fact, the basics of Kashrut can be found in the Torah, which lists forbidden foods as well as the source for the prohibition of mixing milk with meat. Since the Torah was codified some 2,000 years ago, Judaism has developed various laws around those original commandments that comprise the whole of the laws of Kashrut today.


As a Reform congregation, we find value in embracing the spirit of the Jewish dietary laws, recognizing both the importance of food and the benefit of a heightened awareness of what we consume, as well as the value of connecting authentically to our Jewish heritage. To that end, we have determined to adopt a "kashrut policy" which is (a) simple and easily enforceable (b) consistent with the reform movement (c) will maximize the opportunity for those that choose to follow kashrut and those that do not feel comfortable to participate; and (d) will remind us that the sanctity of life and the value of discipline are important Jewish values.



KASHRUT: The Jewish laws pertaining to forbidden and permissible foods, slaughtering and cooking practices. What it means to "Keep Kosher."


FORBIDDEN FOODS:  Foods forbidden from consumption by the Torah, such as meat from animals without split hooves or those that do not chew their cud (these include but are not limited to: pork, pork products—ham, bacon, lard—bear, rabbit, venison) or shellfish and fish that do not have scales and fins (these include, but are not limited to: shrimp, scallops, oysters, clams, prawns, lobster, shark, monkfish, calamari or catfish).


MEAT: Excludes dairy and basic forbidden foods (pork and pork products, shellfish, fish without scales and fins, animals that don't have cloven hooves and chew their cud).


DAIRY:  Excludes meat and forbidden foods. Includes all dairy products, fruits and vegetables.

PARVE: Foods that do not fit into either the dairy or meat category like fruits, vegetables, eggs, fish, mayonnaise, etc.  "Parve" foods can be served at either "dairy" or "meat" meal.