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B'nai Mitzvah guide - Expectation of Our Families & Students

Expectations of our Families:

Synagogue Membership

Relationships are at the center of everything we do.

The ritual of becoming B’nai Mitzvah in a congregation emphasizes the value of community.  Celebrating your child’s B-Mitzvah with Shearith Israel requires a commitment to synagogue membership at Shearith Israel.

A High Quality Jewish Education

We educate children and adults in Jewish values, Hebrew language, and the continuing story of our people.

Attendance of our religious school Machaneh Shai, a Jewish day school, or other approved programs are all paths to a high quality Jewish education. 

Not all children require the same educational needs, and different programs emphasize different parts of the Jewish wisdom and skill tradition, and may impact your expectations of what happens at the ritual.   

Shabbat Attendance at Shearith Israel Services

We elevate spirits and feel God’s presence through prayer experiences.

Our B-Mitzvah celebrations are typically Shabbat mornings. A ritual that celebrates a child coming of age within a praying community makes little sense without actually being part of that praying community.  

The life-cycle ritual, which happens one time, must be embedded in the weekly ritual of Shabbat prayer. We expect to see your family in our services regularly to bring meaning to the ritual of becoming B’nai Mitzvah, and adding spiritual value to your family life. 

Commitment to the Mitzvah of Gemilut Chasadim

We embrace our covenantal responsibility to comfort all who are suffering, and celebrate each other’s joy

There are many Mitzvot important to Judaism beyond the study of Torah and participation in prayer.  We expect our children and families to choose a “Mitzvah project” as part of the celebration of coming of age within the Shearith Israel community.


Expectations of our Students:

Age requirement

The customary age of B-Mitzvah is 13. Some families choose to celebrate Bat-Mitzvah at the age of 12. Early rabbinic rulings on this matter tie the age of majority with physical signs of puberty. We are flexible with the specific date of B-Mitzvah within the general parameters of celebrating “coming of age.”

Hard Work

We structure this process to be intentionally difficult. The definition of “difficult” is completely subjective, and different for each student. We strongly encourage our students and families to strive for more than you think is possible to achieve.                                                                              

Commitment to continuing participation and engagement

Thinking about the B-Mitzvah celebration as the culmination of Jewish education is like thinking about a wedding day as the culmination of a love relationship. We expect our students to continue to attend and participate in services after their B-Mitzvah.   

Fri, February 23 2024 14 Adar I 5784