B’nai Mitzvah FAQ
You and Your Family
Our Jewish practice is always evolving both as individuals and as a community. Just as we grow physically, we also grow emotionally, intellectually and religiously. The answers to the responses below represent our current level of growth at Beth El Synagogue.
- How many aliyahs do we get?
The 1st and 2nd, 4th, and 6th aliyahs are available. The Maftir (8th aliyah) is taken by the Bar/Bat Mitzvah. The parents should take the 7th aliyah, they will be standing together with their child. The 3rd aliyah is for anyone in the congregation who has a yahrzeit and the 5th aliyah is the Simcha Aliyah, for anyone in the congregation who is celebrating a birthday, anniversary or other simcha.
- Do we need to prepare for family honors?
The family is given parts of the service to honor them for coming to your family simcha as well as the Bar/Bat Mitzvah. The honors are in Hebrew and someone who isn’t used to reading could stumble over the words. Preparing for the honors will make your guests much more comfortable. Click here to learn how to chant the Torah blessings. The Hazzan will be happy to assist any family member if they wish.
- What do we parents have to do during the service?
Parents are offered many opportunities to participate during the service. Parents are invited to give the tallit to their child and read the Prayer for Parents during the Torah service. If you would like to read one of the Torah portions, you can make arrangements with Hazzan Krausman several months before the Bar/Bat Mitzvah date.
- What other things can we do?
Parent speeches are such a personal experience. We hope that you will share your thoughts with your children all throughout the weekend. If you feel that you want to express something to them during the service, we ask that the text be sent to Rabbi Abraham, one week in advance and that you keep your comments to less than 5 minutes.
- May other members of our family read Torah, or lead other parts of the service?
Yes! Any Jewish, post B’nai Mitzvah aged person is allowed to have an aliyah or read verses from the Torah. They can lead certain prayers, open the ark, carry the Torah and lift and wrap the Torah. Other Non–Hebrew possibilities are also available. Feel free to make arrangements with Hazzan Krausman.
- Are we to act as ushers?
We don’t have ushers at Beth El; however, if you want to ask a friend to be a “meet and greet” person, that would be great!
At the Service
- Where should we sit?
You can sit in any of the front pews that you would like. We might suggest the 2nd set of pews from the southern wall so that you have a clear view when the Torah is being read.
- How will we know what to do, and when?
It is your responsibility to contact a Simcha Coordinator from the list given. They will meet with you several times before your event and let you know exactly how many honors you can give to family and friends. They will also be here to greet you on Shabbat and make sure everyone is in their places and ready to take their honors. It is most important that you attend services with your Bar/Bat Mitzvah child for several weeks before the simcha so you can familiarize yourself with the process of the service and feel more comfortable.
- What should we know about decorum?
As members of our synagogue you know what is expected of you at services. We ask that dress be modest, talking be kept to a minimum and no electronics of any kind be used in the sanctuary or chapel.
- Why do some families throw candy at their child during the service?
The Shabbat before a bride and groom get married, there is a custom to throw candies when they are called to the Torah reading. This is to wish them a sweet new life as a married couple. In the last 50 years or so, in the US and some other Western countries, some have extended the custom to a Bar/Bat Mitzvah as well; so as to add to the festive atmosphere, and that their “new life” as obligated in mitzvot should be sweet. If you choose to participate in this tradition, please be in touch with Laura Bair so she can provide the approved candy.. Please let your Simcha Coordinator know.
- If we do this, how will we know when?
At the conclusion of Haftara, when the Bar/Bat Mitzvah has completed the blessings, Rabbi Abraham or Hazzan Krausman will give you the signal and you can throw the candy. Please instruct those who are giving out the candy to do so while the Torah is lifted, not during the chanting of the Haftara or Blessings so as not to disturb the Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
- Why are all those other families celebrating things on our date?
The beauty of Judaism and Shabbat is that we love to share our happiness and our sorrows with our Beth El family. Your “date” and your simcha are just part of what happens in our synagogue. So if you are lucky enough to have a Bar/Bat Mitzvah on a weekend that we are celebrating another simcha, all the better!
- What dress is appropriate?
Synagogue dress is different from party dress. The dress code for Beth El synagogue and most religious institutions is modest dress. All men must wear a kippah and women should have their shoulders covered. Jewish Men should wear a Tallit.
- What time should I put on our invitations?
Friday night services start at 6 pm. Saturday morning services start at 9:30 am.
- Do you have directions to the synagogue?
Please see Google Maps. Our address is 14506 California St.
- What flowers are usually put on the bimah?
A bouquet of flowers is usually purchased by the Bar/Bat Mitzvah family for the bimah. It must be delivered by Friday at noon to the synagogue. After the Bar/Bat Mitzvah, you may wish to donate the flowers to a local hospital or nursing home.
- Do you have some kind of explanation we could print up for our non-Jewish guests?
Yes, here are two samples that will help get you started.
– Sample A
– Sample B
- When may we take pictures in the sanctuary? What about video?
There is no photography of any kind on Shabbat or holidays at Beth El Synagogue. However, you are invited to come to morning minyan at 7:00 a.m. on the day of the Actual Bar/Bat Mitzvah and shoot as many photos and take video of your child reading Torah as you want. You can also make arrangements to come in during the week with your photographer for photos before the ark or with your family. Check with Rabbi and Hazzan if you want them with you.
- Does my child’s picture appear in the synagogue bulletin and The Jewish Press?
Absolutely! You can send in photo to be printed in the KOL two months ahead of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Please email the photo to the office. Go to the Jewish Press website for details about sending them your information.
- What about Ritual Items (Kippah, Tallit and Tefillin)?
The Conservative movement has an egalitarian position on all male and female religious mitzvot and obligations. All persons who ascend onto the bimah MUST have their head covered, either by a kippah or an appropriate head covering (for females). It is required that all males, 13 years of age and older, wear a tallit and we strongly encourage females to do so as well.The mitzvah of putting on tefillin, similar to the mitzvah of tallit, is an obligation that is required of all males 13 years of age and older, and here too, we strongly encourage females to do so as well. Beth El is proud of the men & women who have decided to take on this sacred daily rite and look forward to our youth continuing this sacred commandment.
- Who will need a kippah/yarmulke? Where do I get them?
Every male will need to wear a kippah during the service. The synagogue provides kippot in our kippah box but you can order personalized kippot if you desire. Women on the bimah need their heads covered during the service.
What Can We Ask Beth EL Synagogue?
- What is the best way for my student to study for their Bar/Bat Mitzvah?
The best way to be prepared for your Bar/Bat Mitzvah is to come weekly beginning in the 3rd grade to Junior Congregation and be an active part of your synagogue community. Reading Hebrew is a difficult thing and takes a lot of practice. Starting early is the key to success, a little at a time with consistency. Attending synagogue as a family is a key to success!
- How do I know my child is progressing through his/her lessons?
Phone calls, texts and emails are always welcome. You will receive a progress report with assignments after each lesson, please be sure to review this with your child.
- Are there requirements besides coming to BESTT Hebrew School?
Yes, click here to learn more.
- Do we have to do a Mitzvah project?
Many students choose complete a special project to add extra meaning to their Bar/ Bat Mitzvah experience. Feel free to discuss ideas with the Rabbi, Hazzan, or Eadie. Our students are also invited to participate in the Remember Us Holocaust Memorial Project sponsored by the Institute for Holocaust Education.
- Do we have to sponsor the Kiddush Table in the Community Court?
As part of the communal celebration, we ask that you provide 1 bottle each of kosher wine, grape juice and whiskey.
- Do we have to sponsor the Kiddush luncheon?
Traditionally, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah family hosts a luncheon following services. Since we are a family at Beth El, we expect that all of the congregants attending services that day to be invited to the meal.
- Do we have to invite the entire class?
Beth El is a community. Therefore, we ask that the entire Bar/Bat Mitzvah class be invited to participate in their classmates’ simcha.
- What about photography?
There is no photography of any kind on Shabbat at Beth El Synagogue. However, you are invited to come to morning minyan at 7:00 am on the day of the Actual Bar/Bat Mitzvah and shoot as many photos and take video of your child reading Torah as you want. You can also make arrangements to come in during the week with your photographer for photos before the ark or with your family. You can also make arrangements to come in during the week with your photographer for photos before the ark or with your family. Check with our Executive Director to schedule a time for formal pictures.
- When can we start the party?
A party hosted at Beth El Synagogue can begin immediately after Shabbat is over (food prep must wait). For events held offsite we ask that families strongly consider waiting until after Shabbat concludes as to allow all members of our Beth El community to participate. Please check with Rabbi Abraham before you book your event or send out invitations. For exact times when Shabbat is over please see Hebcal.
- Who should I make a donation to?
It is always nice to acknowledge the people who have helped your student achieve this milestone. Donations to the synagogue are appropriate or gift cards can be given as a token of appreciation.
- What is Mazon?
Jews share a sacred duty to accept responsibility for the vulnerable people in our midst. MAZON seeks to uphold that obligation by embodying twin Jewish ideals: tzedakah (justice) and tikkun olam (repair the world). A 3% donation from your total food bill is an appropriate donation.
- What if we are an interfaith family?
Beth El Synagogue welcomes every family member in our building. While there are certain requirements for anyone who wants to participate in some liturgical portions of the Shabbat service, people of all faiths are welcome on our Bimah. There are several opportunities for a non-Jewish family member to participate in the Bar/Bat Mitzvah service. Please read the Keruv Policy document for details. Please visit with Rabbi Abraham if you have any questions or concerns.
- What are the fees for using the synagogue?
Beth El Synagogue Fees are subject to change. Please contact our Kitchen Manager, Laura Bair at 402-492-8550 for a current Facilities Rate Sheet. You must be current in your synagogue financial obligations in order to use synagogue facilities. Reservations may be made at any time and the synagogue will give you the right of first refusal up to nine months prior to your simcha. After that, you must secure your reservation with a deposit. The renter assumes all responsibility for any damage incurred. Payment must be made on all billings after the affair within 30 days unless other arrangements have been made.Synagogue policy requires you to have a security guard during the Saturday night parties. Fees are your responsibility. Consult the Facilities Rate Sheet for the current cost per hour for a minimum of 4 hours. Please make an appointment to discuss and review general logistics and other arrangements with our Executive Director no later than 3 months prior to your simcha.
- Do I have to bake in the Beth El Kitchen and does the food have to be Kosher?
Yes. Beth El Synagogue is a strictly kosher kitchen and therefore all baking must be done in the building. Click here to learn more about the kitchen and food guidelines.
- Can I bring in my own caterer?
The following caterers currently meet Beth El standards for catering:Star Catering – 402-330-4272
Bagel Bin – 402-334-2744. If you wish to work with another caterer, we will be happy to meet with them and review the requirements of our kitchen. The contract must be finalized 2 weeks before the event. The caterer will have to schedule a meeting with our Kitchen Manager no later than one month in advance of the event. Caterers are subject to the approval of our Kitchen Manager, Laura Bair. Contact our Executive Director if you have any questions concerning the use of synagogue facilities.
- Will I need to pay a security deposit?
We are so happy to have you here for your simchas. We know that Beth El is a beautiful facility for events. Each host family is responsible for their guests. Every family will be charged a security deposit for their event, either by check or credit card that is due the week before the event. This is a prepaid charge that covers any damages, vandalism or excess maintenance to the building or grounds. Assuming there are no issues, we will apply the deposit to your bill for the event. Please consult the Facilities Rate Sheet for the current deposit.