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Introduction

Mazal Tov!

Change is happening… you can see it. The child, who was a toddler just yesterday, is rapidly becoming a young adult. New school, new friends, new interests, new clothes…the change is apparent and will only accelerate in the years to come. We celebrate a B'nai Mitzvah at 13, because it is the last time you can still see the baby they were, and the first time you can see the adult they are about to become. So we stop time, and hold this sacred moment. We give thanks for the wonder of parenthood and the miracle of a child’s growth. We offer prayers for their future, and share with them a few words of wisdom, encouragement, and guidance. We sing of our joy as a family and community witnessing our children’s unfolding character.

Mazal Tov, congratulations, on your child’s upcoming B'nai Mitzvah!

The community of Valley Beth Shalom is delighted to share this moment with you. We hope this moment in your family’s life is joyful, memorable, and inspiring. Moments like this one can be stressful, particularly when there are so many moving parts and so many details. This booklet is intended to answer your questions about the ritual part of your celebration. Beyond this, know that we are here to help you make this a wonderful moment for your child, your family and all who celebrate with you. You have our blessings.

Rabbi Ed Feinstein

B'nai Mitzvah Timeline

Your family will receive a B’nai Mitzvah Family Timeline which will indicate all start dates and deadlines for your child’s B’nai Mitzvah training. A sample of this timeline is pictured below:

Synagogue Skills Class

Nine months prior to your child’s service date, their Hebrew skills will be assessed by your assigned cantor. If prescribed, they will begin attending Synagogue Skills classes on Sundays. Classes meet from 12-1pm during the school year and from 10-11am during summer months and school holidays. Students most likely need to attend at least 8 of these sessions, during which they will join with other B’nai Mitzvah students to drill the basic prayers. However, your child may demonstrate mastery of these prayers and test out of this class at any time. The skills classes are low pressure, enjoyable tutoring sessions.

Tutoring Timeline

Before your child’s regularly scheduled meetings with their tutor begin, they will meet with your assigned VBS Cantor. It’s idea if your child is practicing at least 20 minutes a day. Our past students have found they feel much more confident for their big day if they started practicing early!

CHECKPOINT MEETINGS

  • One year prior to B'nai Mitzvah (parents attendance is required) with a VBS Cantor
  • Seven months prior to B'nai Mitzvah, a “check in” with a VBS Cantor before beginning weekly sessions with your child’s tutor
  • One month prior to B'nai Mitzvah with a VBS Cantor
  • 10 days prior to B'nai Mitzvah for a “rehearsal” with your Officiating Cantor

WEEKLY SESSIONS

  • Starting six months out, students will attend 30-minute tutoring sessions on a weekly basis with a VBS B’nai  Mitzvah tutor
  • Please make sure your child is practicing at least 20 minutes a day

Prayers

Your child will be responsible for the following list of prayers. Recordings of the melodies can be found below:

  1. Friday Night Kiddush (Page 49)
  2. Tallit Blessing (Page 62)
  3. Sh'ma/V'Ahavta/L'Maan Tizkru (Page 112) 
  4. Amidah (Page 115B)
  5. Torah Blessing when you are called for an AliyahPrinted or Audio (Page 142/231)
  6. Haftarah Blessing (before) (Page 146)
  7. Haftarah Blessing (after) (Page 147)
  8. Ashrei (Page 151)
  9. V'Shamru/Kiddush/Motzi (Page 315)
  10. Candle Blessings (Page 301)
  11. Birchot Hashachar (Page 65-82)
  12. P'Sukei D'Zimrah (Page 83-105)
  13. Chatzi Kaddish (Page 229)

Your child will receive a copy of Siddur Sim Shalom from your VBSCantor at your first checkpoint meeting.

Torah vs. Haftarah

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

TORAH  
The Shabbat morning Torah reading consists of eight short passages which are read from the Torah scroll. Note: The afternoon Mincha reading contains 3 passages which we normally divide into 4 parts. These words are from the five books of the Chumash (Torah) – Genesis (B’reishit), Exodus (Sh’mot), Leviticus (Vayikra), Numbers (B’midbar) and Deuteronomy (D’varim). Students typically master this reading in 2-4 months.

HAFTARAH  
The Haftarah is selected from the books of the Prophets, and we do not read it from a scroll. The melodies for the Haftarah differ from the Torah. Students typically master this reading in 2-3 months. Tutors will provide an audio file to aid your child‘s preparation of both the Torah and Haftarah readings. Haftarah readings are optional in the afternoon Mincha service.

Mitzvah Project

A Mitzvah Project is one of the first responsibilities we expect each student to take on as a new adult in our community. We invite you to guide your child in choosing one or morecommunity service projects and share in our dedication to bring more wholeness into the world. Please let us know what project is chosen or we can provide you with a list of worthy service projects. Visit vbs.org/act for more information.

The Parents' Role

Your child’s B'nai Mitzvah is a very special and exciting time not only for your child, but for your whole family. The B'nai Mitzvah process allows each member of the family to grow.

The preparation, the increased attention on Jewish identification and learning, and the event itself can each enrich what is important and even heal what may be difficult for a family.

As parents, your role is to support your child on the journey of becoming a B'nai Mitzvah. This includes:

  • Talking with your child about what becoming a B'nai Mitzvah means to your family.
  • Making sure all of the necessary appointments have been scheduled and that all required documents are submitted on time.
  • PRACTICING! Making sure your child is practicing for at least 20 minutes a day. If you need support, please let us  know! One of our incredible B’nai Mitzvah Counselors will reach out to help you.
  • Empowering your child to take ownership of preparing for this special ceremony with pride and confidence.
  • Discussing your child’s parsha (Torah portion) with them and brainstorming possible topics for the B’nai Mitzvah speech/D’var Torah.
  • Most of all, LOVING every moment! This event comes once  in a lifetime. Savor the experience!

The B'nai Mitzvah experience reflects the deep wisdom of Judaism as a spiritual tradition. Working together is what marks this special family and communal event. Take the opportunity to fully engage the emotional and spiritual aspects of this lifecycle milestone. 

The Thursday Morning Minyan

The Torah is read four times each week:

  • Saturday afternoon (when the week’s portion is read for the first time)
  • Monday morning
  • Thursday morning and
  • Saturday morning

The Thursday morning minyan is SUCH a beautiful, meaningful morning! B'nai Mitzvah students whose services are on Saturday morning are invited and expected to also read from the Torah the Thursday morning prior to their Shabbat service during daily morning minyan at 7:30am. The Torah portion is the same as the one they will read on Shabbat. This is a beautiful moment for your B'nai Mitzvah child and your family. We invite you and your family to attend with your child. Many parents and kids tell us this was one of those most meaningful experiences of their B'nai Mitzvah weekend.

If you have any questions about this morning service, please contact Lisa Leib: (818) 530-4018 • lleib@vbs.org

If students have a Shabbat afternoon Mincha service, we ask that they return the following Monday for daily Morning Minyan at 7:30 AM to read their Torah portion. Alternatively, students may attend the Thursday Morning Minyan before their Mincha B’nai Mitzvah but will not be able to read the Torah portion (such students can lead certain prayers and receive an Aliyah).

In either case, our Ritual Director, Yossi Dresner, will contactyou to make arrangements: (818) 530-4012

Friday Evening Shabbat Service

On the Friday evening before your child’s B'nai Mitzvah date, your family will participate in their Shabbat Evening Service.

If your child’s service falls on the second Friday of the month, your family will be invited to participate in our monthly Rimonim Shabbat Service. Learn more at vbs.org/rimonim.

The B'nai Mitzvah child will help lead some of the prayers for the evening. Mothers are invited to light Shabbat candlesas Shabbat begins. Some families choose to host a Shabbat dinner at the synagogue after services. Contact Eric Levine at LA Kosher Catering to help you coordinate a beautiful dinner: (818) 789-7588

Saturday B'nai Mitzvah Service

This is your family’s big day! Today your child will read from the Torah and become a B'nai Mitzvah, either at the Shabbat Morning Service or afternoon Mincha Service.

KIPPOT
If you would like to provide personalized kippot for yourguests, contact our preferred vendor, kippah.com, or order your kippot from the vendor of your choice.

CANDY
Your B’nai Mitzvah package includes two baskets of individually wrapped soft kosher candies which are traditionally thrown atthe conclusion of your child’s Torah reading.

KIDDUSH
A contribution to the congregational Kiddush luncheon fundis included in your B’nai Mitzvah package and is part of your B'nai Mitzvah fee. If you are interested in enhancing your Kiddush for anadditional fee, or if you have any special setup requests, please visit our Kiddush informational page or contact our offices.

CONTACT
LA Kosher Catering
 (818) 789-7588

Photos at VBS

Valley Beth Shalom does not permit photography or videography during Shabbat (Friday evening through Saturday at sundown). However, you are welcome to schedule a photo shoot anywhere on the VBS grounds before or after your child’s B'nai Mitzvah date.

CONTACT
Lisa Leib, B’nai Mitzvah Coordinator
(818) 530-4018

Party Planning

If you are interested in hosting a Shabbat dinner, private luncheon or dinner celebration following your child’s B'nai Mitzvah, please contact our offices for more information.

CONTACT
Eric Levine at LA Kosher Catering
(818) 789-7588

Parents' Speeches

Shortly after the beginning of the Shabbat service, parents are invited to speak to their children before the congregation. Parents’ speeches should be no longer than five minutes (total), and are a wonderful opportunity to speak to your child about the Jewish values you hold. Your officiating Rabbi will provide more guidance at your first meeting.

B'nai Mitzvah Honors

ALIYOT
You will have the opportunity to honor several people with chanting the blessings before and after each Torah reading. In accordance with Conservative Synagogue practices, those being called for an Aliyah must be Jewish and over the age of 13. You/your child will need to provide both English and Hebrew names for those called to the Torah. No more than four people can be called for each Aliyah. Additionally, your family will have honors for the following:

  • Ark Openers (Need not be Jewish)
  • Torah Remover/Replacer
  • Torah Lifter/Dresser

Please review the Sample Honors Sheet carefully and contact us with any questions.

Etiquette

This is a very exciting time in your family’s life and the life of our community. We want to work together to create a meaningful and joyous celebration for you and your child during Bar/Bat Mitzvah services, throughout the party, and when your child attends the Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebrations of her/his peers.

Here are some key expectations to remember when attending a Bar/Bat Mitzvah at Valley Beth Shalom. Please share this information with your invited guests:

  • Be a mensch! Display respectful behavior during services.
  • Please do not use your phone in the sanctuary. If you need to use your phone, exit the room and return promptly to your seat when finished.
  • Please refrain from speaking to your friends excessively or loudly in the sanctuary. Please be especially respectful of the parents of the  Bar/Bat Mitzvah, the rabbi/leader giving instructions or teaching, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah student leading the prayers or chanting Torah or Haftarah. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah is teaching us from the wisdom of our tradition.
  • Please remember the building is not a playground -- no running, no shouting. Be respectful of the furnishings and objects of the synagogue.
  • Do sit respectfully in your seats. Please remember to wear a kippah, keep a siddur and a copy of the Torah with you. Wear your tallit if you have already completed your training. Get use of that beautiful tallit you received for your Bar/Bat Mitzvah!
  • Participate! Your peers and friends have worked months for this moment. You may have even led the community in prayer and         learning. You know what to do. Your participation is needed and appreciated!
  • Do care about your community and the environment! Do not play with school equipment and certainly do not destroy property! If you see others acting inappropriately, remind them this is a holy place.
  • Wear appropriate clothing. This is a celebration and we all want to look our best. Your dress during services should be modest (shoulders covered, dresses the length of your arms and lower, dress shirts, pants, and shoes.) See the guidelines for dress below.
  • HAVE FUN! THIS IS A GREAT MOMENT TO SHARE AND CELEBRATE WITH THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE!

Dress

Please dress appropriately for your celebration. Dress at synagogue services should be modest. Recommendations for appropriate dress for synagogue include:

  • Slacks (no jeans)
  • Dress shoes(no sneakers or flip flops)
  • Collared shirts(no tee shirts or hoodies)
  • A sweater or a jacket with tie
  • A kippah (head covering) especially if you are on the bimah
  • Clothing that is modest and fitted appropriately (no revealing or overly tight-fitting clothing)
  • Shoulders covered
  • Skirts or dresses no shorter arms length or 3 inches above the knee

Those who have celebrated a Bar/Bat Mitzvah should wear a tallit when attending a service. Head coverings as well as tallitot are available for use from the synagogue.

Mon, September 26 2022 1 Tishrei 5783