Rodef Sholom: A Reform Jewish Congregation in Marin County, California

Turn the Torah, turn it again and again, for everything you want to know is found within it.
-- Pirke Avot 2:25
b'nai mitzvah Print E-mail

What is a bar or bat mitzvah?

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B'nai Mitzvah Handbook

B'nai Mitzvah FAQ's

B'nai mitzvah is more than an event; as we say in the Jewish tradition, you do not have a bar or bat mitzvah, you become one.

A b'nai mitzvah is not a day, it is a person, it is your child who is becoming. The process towards b'nai mitzvah gives your child not only the chance to study Torah, to learn the prayers, and to interpret and teach the weekly Torah portion, but also to explore what it means to be an adult, to be a responsible, productive, and caring person. But bar and bat mitzvah is not only about the child, it is really about the entire family. Attending services, studying Torah, and learning the prayers creates an opportunity for your entire family to explore your own spiritual paths, to deepen your own relationship with the synagogue, and to grow closer to God and to Torah.

B'nai mitzvah is an ancient gift that the Jewish people has given to our children, and which you, as parents, are passing down to your children as well. In doing so you are saying that tradition matters, that holiness matters, and that the past will not be forgotten. But it is a gift that benefits us all as well. Each week when a young person holds the Torah for the first time and reads from its ancient words, our tradition is strengthened and our future made more secure.

Rabbi Stacy Friedman, Rabbi Michael Lezak, and Cantor David Margules

In order for your child to have a bar or bat mitzvah at Congregation Rodef Sholom, you need to be a member of our community.  In addition, your child needs to have had at least three continuous years of Jewish education, either in our religious school or another synagogue's, or a Jewish day school.  Your child must regularly attend religious school the year of the bar/bat mitzvah.  Children who attend a Jewish day school, such as Brandeis Hillel, must attend the Shabbat Gesher class the year of the bat/bar mitzvah.  Questions about membership should be directed to Michael Kamler, our executive director, at 479.3441 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  Questions about religious education should be directed to Irene Resnikoff, our director of education, at 479.3447 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

How do I get a date for my child?

If you are currently a member of Rodef Sholom, and have a child who is approaching b'nai mitzvah age, you will be sent a letter in March of your child's 11th year, regardless of what grade he or she is in, asking you to choose four potential b'nai mitzvah dates.  You will be notified of your child's bar or bat mitzvah date in May and there will be an orientation for parents that fall.  At that time, the rest of the b'nai mitzvah information, also called the B'nai Mitzvah handbook, will be posted on this website.

If you have an older child who wants to have a bar or bat mitzvah, contact Deanna Sumski, our b'nai mitzvah coordinator, at 479.3441.

However, until then, here is a consolidated timeline of the events and experiences that lead up to a b'nai mitzvah:

  • B'nai Mitzvah Retreat at Camp Newman - for parents and b'nai mitzvah students - the November of your child's 12th year;
  • Gesher B'nai Mitzvah Family Classes
  • First meeting with the rabbi - 9 months before your child's bar or bat mitzvah;
  • Meeting with the cantor - 7 months before;
  • Weekly meetings with the tutor - 3 to 6 months before;
  • Weekly meetings with the cantor and your partner (if you have one) - 3 months before;
  • Second meeting with the rabbi - 2 months before;
  • Outing with the rabbi - 2 to 3 weeks before; and
  • Bar/bat mitzvah rehearsal - week before;

Other important dates:

  • Praying with your community - at least one Friday night and one Saturday morning per month;
  • Learning with your community - three times at either Torah with Soul or Torah on the Trails on Saturday mornings; and
  • Mitzvah project - minimum of 12 hours of community service (turn in Mitzvah Project form 6 months before bar/bat mitzvah).

For more information, contact our B'nai Mitzvah Coordinator, Deanna Sumski, at 479.3441 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . For questions about tutoring, contact Sofie Goldstein at 479.3441 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  For questions about our facilities or Shabbat Kiddush lunch, contact Sonja Gammon at 479.3441 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Adults interested in a bar or bat mitzvah should contact Cantor David Margules at 479.3441 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

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