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B'nei Mitzvah

Request a Date for Your Child's B'nei / Bat / Bar / Be Mitzvah

Having a B'nei / Bat / Bar / Be Mitzvah is about taking personal responsibility for one's Jewish journey. At Temple Israel of Alameda, we focus on each individual's spiritual growth. Generally, students attend at least two years of Religious School prior to their B'nei Mitzvah. During Religious School, they will learn Jewish values and begin to form their own Jewish identity. They will also learn the prayers they will be leading during their Shabbat service.

Why do we list so many names for this event?

Temple Israel of Alameda is committed to supporting all people on their spiritual journeys. We recognize that gender identity can be an important aspect of one's life. Therefore, female-identifying people might have a Bat Mitzvah ("daughter of the Mitzvah / commandment"). Male-identifying people might have a Bar Mitzvah ("son of the commandment"). Non-binary people might have a B'nei Mitzvah ("children (male, plural) of the commandment"). While there is a Non-Binary Hebrew Project, we recognize that the Hebrew language, by default, is a gendered language. Therefore, anyone who wishes to celebrate this occasion without reference to the gender-binary can choose to call it a Be Mitzvah. Some people bristle at the mashup of English and Hebrew in this phrase. Ultimately, the goal of the event is to embrace the idea of being commanded to live into a life of goodness and holiness. While the rest of this document will refer to the event as a B'nei Mitzvah, rest assured that we will personalize the name of the ceremony according to your child's choice. 

What are the elements of a B'nei Mitzvah?

Our students learn to lead a large number of prayers during Religious School. Once they are confident in their prayer leadership, they can begin the process of learning Torah portions and a Haftarah portion for their B'nei MItzvah. 

We offer an annual workshop after the High Holy Days for students and parents to review the B'nei Mitzvah requirements. We encourage families to take their time in scheduling a B'nei Mitzvah. It does not have to occur exactly around one's thirteenth birthday. Remember that dates in August through December will require weekly student and meetings during the summer, which may conflict with family plans. 

Families will receive a copy of the B'nei Mitzvah Handbook, which details the prayers that are normally led by a B'nei Mitzvah along with other standards.

Typically, each school year, the families having B'nei Mitzvah ceremonies will support one another, helping to provide food and drinks for the Oneg on the Friday night prior to each B'nei Mitzvah. Our Social Hall is available for luncheons or dinners following a B'nei Mitzvah. Celebrations can also continue at off-site locations. If an off-site location is chosen, families provide challah and wine / grape juice for Kiddush on Shabbat morning. 

Does my child have to attend religious school?

Our general policy is to encourage children to attend at least two years of Religious School prior to their B'nei Mitzvah. Judaism is an ethno-religion and developing a sense of Jewish community is as important as any individual accomplishment.

We also recognize that moving to a new geographic location or coming to this process later in adolescence requires flexibility on our part. 

Our primary goal is to support all Jews on their spiritual journeys. 

It is also possible to rent the Temple Israel sanctuary and social hall for your simcha. If you are participating in an independent B'nei Mitzvah program and wish to rent our facilities, please email our Office Adminstrator to discuss details. 

When does a B'nei Mitzvah occur?

We celebrate a B'nei Mitzvah during a Shabbat Shacharit service. These services occur on Saturday, starting at 10:30 a.m. The B'nei Mitzvah is also expected to co-lead Kabbalat Shabbat service on the Friday prior to their B'nei Mitzvah. A B'nei Mitzvah can be scheduled August through June. Unfortunately, we cannot schedule a B'nei Mitzvah on a Jewish holiday or during the month of July. 

When can I request a B'nei Mitzvah date?

Members of Temple Israel of Alameda can request a date for their child's B'nei Mitzvah when their child is in the fourth grade. Children need to be at least thirteen at the time of their B'nei Mitzvah. 

When do I pay the B'nei Mitzvah fee?

The B'nei Mitzvah fee is paid during the fiscal year when the B'nei Mitzvah will occur. The fee must be paid in full prior to the simcha.

There is no cost for members to request a date prior to the year it will occur. Please remember: dates are not set in stone. As a small congregation, we have a lot of flexibility in scheduling B'nei Mitzvah ceremonies. We have often found it beneficial to postpone ceremonies in order to provide students with ample time to fully embrace their responsibility for their Judaism. Our primary goal is to make this a meaningful event. 

What is the fee for a B'nei Mitzvah?

For the 2024-2025 Fiscal Year, the fee is $2,500. 

This fee includes:

  1. Six months of weekly instruction to learn prayer service,  Torah portions and a Haftarah (Prophetic) portion with Director of Education, Dr. Jenn Levine
  2. Three months of weekly conversations (in person or via Zoom) with Rabbi Minster to understand one's portion and develop a D'var Torah (words of Torah, a sermon).
  3.  A facility fee.

*If additional tutoring is recommended after the Hebrew evaluation, we will create a plan for your child and explain any additional fees. 

What is a Mitzvah Project?

A Mitzvah Projects is a social action or community service project for the B’nei Mitzvah student to put their Jewish values and identity into practice. Becoming a B'nei Mitzvah symbolizes becoming personally responsible for one's involvement in the Jewish community. A Mitzvah Project is a way for B’nei Mitzvah students to express a unique way that they are actively helping to improve their community. [Adapted from the BJE Parents Guide.]

Recognizing that our students often have extremely busy schedules, Temple Israel allows B'nei Mitzvah students to choose whether to complete their Mitzvah Project before their B'nei Mitzvah or immediately following their B'nei MItzvah.

Here are some resources for choosing a Mitzvah Project:

Request a Date for Your Child's B'nei / Bat / Bar / Be Mitzvah

Wed, July 17 2024 11 Tammuz 5784