B’nei Mitzvah

Congratulations! You and your child have started the B’nei Mitzvah journey at the Westchester Jewish Center.

We hope that this site will help make the process transparent and easy to navigate. Our hope is that we are able to answer any questions you may have, and if it doesn’t, our door and our inboxes are always open so please reach out!

Our clergy and our professional staff are always available to help you through this life cycle event.

Our vision is that throughout this journey your whole family connects and learns. We want to offer the opportunity to make this experience unique and meaningful. Each family has the opportunity, the privilege, and responsibility to customize the experience and the day to suit the Bar/Bat Mitzvah.

Enjoy this exciting, meaningful, and spiritual time in your child’s life!

Mazel Tov,
WJC B’Nei Mitzvah Committee

Overview of the B’nei Mitzvah Journey at WJC 

WJC Expectations & Experience

The B’nei Mitzvah ceremony is truly enhanced when the entire family is familiar with the service. When the family feels more comfortable at WJC with the prayers and the service everyone has a deeper experience of joy and meaning. 

Jewish education is a fundamental principle of our people. In that vein we hope that you treat this journey as an educational opportunity. You will have the opportunity to participate in Jewish teachings on self-reflection, ethics, and spirituality. 

During the roughly two years before your B’nei Mitzvah, our clergy will conduct a number of experiences for families. These sessions will focus on the rituals, philosophies, and spirituality of the occasion, as well as help you learn about your child’s parsha. Your child will be given a binder at the start of 5th grade which 

WJC is a community; indeed, we hope that it is an extended family. 

In order to enhance our students’ appreciation of mitzvot, each child is expected to participate and experience a variety of commandments. Some mitzvot are in the realm of those that define our relationship with other humans, for example tzedukah and community service. Others are those that establish our relationship with G-d, such as prayer and rituals. Many children will participate in a B’nei Mitzvah project. The Rabbi, through this process will discuss mitzvot with the children, and all families can access WJC’s Tikkun Olam opportunities. 

As you embark on this journey any nuts and bolts questions should be directed to Kim Lewis. She will assist you with many of your questions, and even when you need to reach out to Rabbi Arnowitz, Rabbi Dalton or Cantor Ethan please cc Kim as well. Our goal is for you to feel like you have spiritual support and an organizational concierge so that you feel taken care of. 

Financial Obligations & Fees
  • Morning Service dd
  • Afternoon (Mincha) Service dd
  • Non-Shabbat Service dd
  • Adjusted rate for twins dd

Fees are all-inclusive and based on the service time. Established WJC policy requires that all outstanding financial obligations to WJC must be paid in full 3 months prior to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah. 

A deposit of 50% of the Fee is due when the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Agreement is signed. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah fee must be paid one year prior to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah.

Kiddush Fee & Guidelines

The Congregational Kiddush buffet is served in the Social Hall/Gym or Outside for ALL in attendance at the service. The same type and quantity of food must be made available for congregants and guests of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah family. 

It's important to let WJC know if you plan to use an outside caterer. 

If you choose to use the WJC in-house Kiddush your menu choices must be finalized 6 weeks before the Bar/Bat Mitzvah. See sample menus

To enhance a Kiddush, families are welcome to bring Kosher-certified items to be placed by synagogue staff. All Kiddush arrangements must be confirmed with the office.

Weather permitting tables may be placed outdoors and Kiddush may be held in the Activity Center.

If you choose to have the Kiddush provided by an outside caterer you may choose from a WJC vetted lest, or you may submit a different caterer’s certificate of Kashrut to Rabbi Arnowitz for approval. There is a fee charged to the caterer for the use of the WJC kitchen. Please don’t sign any catering agreement until connecting with the WJC office. 

About the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Service

Honors

During the course of the service, certain honors may be given to family members and/or friends. All honors can be given to any adult, however, as a Conservative Temple we ask that those participating wear a talit and head covering. There are some honors that can be given to children (assuming that they are willing and knowledgeable in their duties). 

Shabbat Morning Honors Sheet 

Mincha Honors Sheet

These may include but are not limited to:

Torah Reading

WJC encourages our members to participate in our services by reading from the Torah. The Cantor can help you prepare for this honor. If you or a family member would like to participate in this way, please contact Kim Lewis who will help you coordinate it.

Aliyot to the Torah  

Each family is offered a limited number of Aliyot to the Torah. When you have an Aliyah, you are called to the Torah to recite a Hebrew blessing before and after that particular reading. Aliyot may be given to anyone over the age of 13. Parents are encouraged to have a joint Aliyah, as are all grandparents. The blessings to be recited at the Torah can be found here. 

Hagbah (lifting the Torah)

At the conclusion of the Torah reading, Hagbah is called. The Hagbah lifts the Torah above the head, opened slightly so that the congregation can see three columns of the text. It should be noted that the Torah is heavy, and, during certain times of the year, heavily weighted to one side. More details on this honor can be found here.

Gelilah (dressing the Torah)

The person honored with Gelilah will tie the Torah, place the mantle over it, and then replace the Yad (Torah pointer) and crown. Each item, together with instructions, will be provided by a WJC Officer or clergy member who will be standing with the honoree. The Gabbai will ask this person for their Hebrew name and the name of their father and/or mother.

Leading A Prayer for Our Country (in English)

We offer a prayer on behalf of the United States on page 148 of the prayer book. The prayer is recited by the entire congregation with the leader, and is entirely in English. A copy of this prayer can be found here. 

Opening the Ark

Each Bar/Bat Mitzvah family is offered a number of Ark Openings as honors, which each involves 1-4 people. When asked to open the Ark, honorees should come to the Bimah where they will receive instructions as to where to stand, when/how to open and close the Ark. Some Ark openings also involve a procession through the Sanctuary. 

Greeters

Each Bar/Bat Mitzvah family is encouraged to select two WJC congregants to be the “greeters” at the sanctuary door. Greeters should arrive at the beginning of the service and welcome congregants and Bar/Bat Mitzvah guests into the sanctuary. 

Younger Siblings

We will reach out 3 months in advance to invite siblings to participate in the service. 

Hebrew and English Names

We will reach out to enquire regarding the English and Hebrew names, as well as the relationship to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah for all those receiving honors. 

Anyone receiving a religious honor on the Bimah must be Jewish

Candy

It is a custom in our synagogue to toss candy at the Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Two Hershey Kisses, or other small, soft, Kosher candy, should be wrapped together in netting and tied with a ribbon. Note: if you are hosting a meat Kiddush following the service, the candy should be pareve. A maximum of 25 small bags should be distributed to members of your family and adult friends. The Rabbi will indicate to you when they should be given out, and when they should be thrown. 

Spice Bags and Havdalah Candle for Havdalah

For Havdalah Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, it is recommended that spice bags be made for your guests. Fill small net bags with sweet smelling spices (such as a cinnamon stick, allspice, whole cloves, mulling spices) and tie with ribbon. There should be approximately one bag for every two adults. The Rabbi will indicate to you when they should be given out. A Havdalah candle may be purchased at the Sisterhood Gift Shop. 

Timing & Seating for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Family

For all services, Bar/Bat Mitzvah families must arrive at WJC 10 minutes before the service begins. The immediate family usually sits in the front row on the right side (facing the bimah). 

  • Shabbat morning (Shacharit) services begin at 9:30 a.m. and usually concludes around 12:00 p.m.
  • The Shabbat Mincha/Havdalah service takes place during the last 1.5 hours of Shabbat. The timing is determined by sunset and will vary with the time of year.
  • The Shabbat Mincha Only service begins at an agreed-upon time with the Rabbi and lasts one hour.

Kippot

The family may provide kippot and women’s head coverings for the service, to be placed in the lobby outside the Sanctuary. 

  • You may arrange for a table and tablecloth with Kim. 
  • Please include bobby pins or clips for the kippot and women’s head coverings as well as baskets to hold all of these items. If you would like to use baskets owned by WJC please let Kim know. 

Programs

Descriptive booklets can be distributed to your guests explaining the service and rituals. There are templates for both morning services and Mincha/Havdalah services. If you wish to have these available please let Kim know at least one month in advance. The office will customize the first page for you, and then you can have the programs printed elsewhere. 

Officer/Trustee Role

  • If you are having a Mincha only or Mincha/Havdalah service, at approximately 6 months prior to your simcha, you may request a WJC officer or trustee to make a congratulatory speech and extend synagogue gifts at your Bar/Bat mitzvah. 
  • If you would like a particular Officer/Trustee that you wish to make a speech and present gifts for your Shabbat morning service please contact them with your request. 

Shabbat Schnapps

Some congregants follow the tradition of having a drink of schnapps at Kiddush. Please provide a bottle of scotch to be placed with the Kiddush wine. If planning a catered Kiddush, please remind your caterer that he/she/they must provide small shot glasses of kosher wine on a tray.

WJC Review

Please email a jpeg photo of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah and the 75-word write-up to be printed in WJC’s monthly newsletter to Kim, 2 months prior. Samples of previous blurbs can be found here. 

The Location

Building Arrangements, Security and Parking

Seating Capacity

Our Main Sanctuary seats approximately 315 people. Average attendance at Shabbat services is 75. Please let WJC know three weeks in advance the number of family and guests expected. We have the ability to host up to 600 people if we open the doors to the Reception Room. 

Non-Shabbat and Mincha Bar/Bat Mitzvahs are typically held in the Allen A. Stein Memorial Chapel which accommodates up to 160 persons, but can me moved to the Main Sanctuary if a big turnout is expected. 

Building Guidelines

Please advise guests that our building is a smoke-free facility. Cellular phones should not be used on synagogue property during Shabbat. 

Photos

  • Photos are allowed at the conclusion of the Mincha/Ma’arive service as the Havdalah service begins. 
  • Taking posed photos in the Sanctuary (not on Shabbat) must be scheduled with Kim who can also coordinate the participation of the Rabbis and Cantor. 

Flowers

Families may order two Bimah floral arrangements (or use the two WJC silk arrangements) for the Sanctuary. Flowers or other centerpieces may also be used for the Shabbat morning Kiddush for the buffet table(s) and the round guest tables. Centerpieces should not be removed from the building until after Shabbat. 

Shabbat Prohibitions

Recorded music and live musical instruments during the Kiddush or luncheon, and photography or videotaping are not permitted on Shabbat anywhere on WJC grounds. Acapella singers, without microphones, are allowed. For the Havdalah ceremony a family may provide a guitar player, or other musical accompaniment if desired. 

Deliveries

The synagogue building closes at 2:00 p.m. on Friday afternoons. Please arrange with Kim for deliveries.

Security Requirements

Due to security needs, Bar/Bat Mitzvah families must submit the names of their guests to Kim three weeks in advance of their simcha. The security guard may refer to this if there are any concerns with giving someone entry to the building. Don’t stress if this is not completely accurate- better to have more names on this list rather than less. 

Parking

Guests should park in the main parking lot. If it is full they will be able to find parking on the street. 

Bus Transport Protocols

One month before the event, the bus company must give Kim an insurance binder naming WJC as an additional insured. Buses must wait off site until five minutes before the end of the service. Keep walkways open, and engines off. 

SPECIAL ACCOMMODATIONS

It is our goal to be inclusive of all who seek a place in our community. Please let your guests know of our available accommodations, as appropriate

In and around our building we provide

  • Handicapped restroom
  • Drop off by curb cut near the Sanctuary doors for those in wheelchairs or who need assistance
  • Handicapped parking spaces
  • Curb cuts in the sidewalks for wheelchair access in parking areas
  • A children’s diaper changing room on the first floor near the Youth Lounge
  • Dual height water fountains
  • A quiet space for breastfeeding

In the Sanctuary

  • A wheelchair lift to the Bimah
  • Large print prayer books
  • Assisted listening devices for the hearing impaired
  • Designated spaces for wheelchairs

For those in need of Sign Language Interpretation

  • We can provide sign language interpretation. Please contact Kim so that WJC can arrange for that accommodation. 

Shabbat Housing

If you need Shabbat accommodations for any of your guests, the Mamaroneck Motel at 1015 Boston Post Road. You can call (914) 698-0671. The Motel is walking distance of WJC. 

Private Reception Fees & Guidelines

Shabbat Afternoon Luncheon

WJC policy requires Shabbat morning Bar/Bat Mitzvah families to sponsor and attend the congregational Kiddush following Shabbat morning services. Fostering a feeling of inclusiveness and community is our goal. 

Other Private Receptions

At other times, with the approval of the Executive Director, you may be able to utilize public areas of WJC including the Reception Room, Social Hall/Gym, Activity Center or other space. The stage may not be used by guests due to safety concerns, but is available for musicians. Space reservations are available only to WJC member families.

If you wish to have a private afternoon luncheon reception on Shabbat at WJC is may begin at 1:30 p.m. Your reception may take place in the Social Hall/Gym or the Activity Center. You can also speak to Kim about setting up a tent outdoors. 

Room Reservation Requirements

A Room Reservation Form and a non-refundable deposit are required to reserve space for a reception. 

Room Rentals

The baseline party fee includes up to 100 guests. The fee increases for 101-200 guests, 201-300 guests, and 301-400 guests. For over 300 guests you must review party plans with the office. This fee includes the use of the Social Hall/Gym, Reception Room and Activity Center. The Activity Center may not be used as the ONLY room for Bar/Bat Mitzvah parties

Please note, a kitchen use fee is charged to the caterer. 

For Friday night dinners, the use of a single room is expected. Fees vary based on half or full room usage and number of guests. 

Additional Reception Guidelines

Security Guards

In the interest of safety for persons and property, private security guards will be hired by WJC for any reception. The cost is included in the party fee.

Parents of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah child should introduce themselves to the security guard upon arrival in the building, since parents will be contacted if it is necessary to report any misbehavior during the reception.

Ladies’ Room Attendant

For safety and cleanliness, a ladies room attendant will be hired by WJC, to be present throughout the duration of the reception for parties of 100 or more persons. This cost is included in the party fee.

Coatroom Attendants

Coatroom attendants may be hired for a reception through the WJC office. Please inquire about this at least 1 month in advance.

Party Counselors

It is strongly suggested that “Party Counselors” be retained by Bar/Bat Mitzvah families to ensure that all children attending the reception are always under the supervision of an adult throughout the reception’s duration. Furthermore, unsupervised children are not permitted in the parking lots or on the grounds outside of the building entrances. Consequently, any child found by our security personnel in these areas will be escorted back into the building, and the B’nei Mitzvah parents notified.

Caterer/Kitchen Guidelines

When a Bar/Bat Mitzvah family secures the reception space for a Saturday evening, they get the use of the meat kitchen beginning on Friday. The family responsible for the Shabbat morning Kiddush gets the use of the dairy kitchen. 

 

Nuts & Bolts of the Process

5th Grade
  • Receive Your B’Nei Mitzvah binder and begin the journey with your family to becoming a B’nei Mitzvah
6th grade
  • Start working with the Cantor as part of “Torah Corps”
  • Engage in sessions with the Rabbi to learning more about what it means to become a B’nei Mitzvah.
7th Grade
  • Continue to work with the Cantor as part of “Torah Corps”
12 months out
  • Attend services to learn the melodies and rhythms of your B’nei Mitzvah service.
8 months out
  • Choose your Bar/Bat Mitzvah service greeters- reach out to friends-  perhaps a synagogue friend for whom you can greet, who will then greet at your child’s service. This helps the day run smoothly. Speak to Kim about this.
  • Request an officer/trustee for gift giving honor- Shabbat Morning service always has an  present. If you are having a Mincha or other service you may ask a guest who is an Officer or Trustee; or, of course, the Rabbi can perform this honor. 
  • Guest List - Be considerate in inviting either less than half the class, or else the whole Religious School Class (if your child attends RS) so that peers do not feel left out.
  • Begin to plan for a Mitzvah Project with the Rabbi if interested.
3 months out
  • The office will confirm that all synagogue payments are current. If there are any concerns contact Kim or the Executive Director, David Goldstein
  • Room Decorations - Families may order a Bimah floral arrangement or use the WJC silk floral arrangement for the sanctuary. Families may also plan for flowers for the Kiddush. Please let Kim know of your plans
  • Confirm party plans with the office.
  • Plan for Kiddush. Notify Kim if you plan on using an outside caterer for Shabbat morning Kiddush and parties. Or discuss with Kim the options for using WJC’s in-house Kiddush.
  • Sisterhood Tree of Life Program - WJC’s Sisterhood maintains a “Tree of Life” in the Main Lobby of WJC. Parents or relatives of a Bar/Bat Mitzvah may choose to honor the child with an inscribed leaf commemorating this event. Sign up here for a leaf or speak to Kim. 
2 months out
  • Email a .jpeg photo of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah and the 75-word write up to be printed in WJC’s monthly newsletter to Kim.
  • Order Kippot and women’s head coverings. Remember to bring bobby pins or clips as well as a basket if you have a preference.
  • Tallit & Tefillin - Choose and order the Tallit for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Tefillin is encouraged for boys and girls. Sisterhood members receive a 20% Gift Shop discount.
  • Plan for Shabbat Accommodations if needed.
  • D’var Torah - Kim will reach out to set up meetings with Rabbi Dalton to discuss your child’s D’var Torah. 
  • Programs- Contact Kim if you wish to create descriptive booklets. 
  • Evening Receptions- WJC will provide security personnel. We strongly recommend that you retain “party counselors” to supervise the activities of the children. You are responsible for any damage to the building resulting from its use for your reception. The stage may not be used for guests. 
  • Order Bimah Flowers if choosing to do that. Some families, in lieu of, or in addition to floral arrangements for the Bimah provide food baskets to distribute to one or more social agencies in our area. 
6 weeks out
  • Kiddush - Let Kim know the approximate number of guests, and confirm Kiddush plans.
  • Photos - please arrange with Kim and clergy for photos to be taken during the week in the Sanctuary.
4 weeks out
  • Tefillin - WJC members will have the opportunity to learn about tefillin and how to put them on with Rabbi Arnowitz through his Beyond Judiasm Program. In addition, the Brotherhood will schedule a session at your home or at WJC for hands-on-training. Contact Kim if you need to borrow tefillin.
  • Morning Minyah - Speak to Kim about attending the Thursday morning 7:00 a.m. minyan immediately preceding your child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Bring tallit and tefillin and a camera. It is a nice gesture to serve bagels, cake or cookies that morning. 
  • Honors - Give Kim a list of those being honored and their relationship to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah. 
Honor Name Hebrew Name Hebrew Name of Parents Relationship to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah
  • Anyone receiving a religious honor must be Jewish. 
  • Men receiving honors must wear a kippah and tallit. 
  • Women receiving honors should wear a head covering and a tallit is an option. 
  • Contact Kim to arrange honors for non-Jewish family members. 
3 weeks out
  • Inform Kim of:
    • Number of guests
    • Names of guests for security purposes
    • Reception details
    • Confirm staged photos in Sanctuary
  • Quick Check in with Kim
2 weeks out
  • Candy - Prepare a maximum of 25 small bags to be distributed to adults only. Only soft kosher candy (i.e. two Hershey Kisses) should be used, wrapped together in netting and tied with a ribbon. If you are hosting a meat Kiddush the candy must be pareve (i.e. fruit slices).
  • Special Accomodations - Notify the office to make any special arrangements for those with disabilities.
  • Kiddush Schnapps - {purchase a bottle of Scotch to be placed with the Kiddush wine. If Kiddush is catered, remind your caterer that he/she/they must provide small shot glasses of kosher wine on a tray.
  • Havdalah Spices and Candle (for Mincha/Ma’ariv B’nei Mitzvah): Prepare approximately one bag for every two adults. A Havdalah candle can be purchased at the Sisterhood Gift Shop. 
  • Make plans for LEFTOVER FOOD to be picked up and donated to local agencies on Sunday. 
1 Week out
  • Shabbat Decorum- Actively encourage yours and your child’s guests to use appropriate behavior while attending religious services and remind them: appropriate dress, no cellphone usage, no smoking, no cameras, no live or recorded music. Rented buses may not enter synagogue property during Shabbat.
  • Confirm Honors

Honors - Give Kim a list of those being honored and their relationship to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah. 

Honor Name Hebrew Name Hebrew Name of Parents Relationship to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah
Day Before
  • Things to Bring
    • Kippot, bobby pins or clips, women’s head covering and bobby pins
    • Baskets for above items
    • Bottle of Scotch.
    • Arrange with Kim for dropping off items or any other vendors. 
    • Catering- Remember, food deliveries must be completed before 2:00 p.m. on Friday.
    • Flowers - Flowers may only be placed on the far side of the Bimah, not on the steps. Flowers must be delivered before 1:00 p.m. Friday, and not removed until after Shabbat.
  • Gratuities - Gratuities for Custodial Staff are not included in your fees. While optional they are truly appreciated. 
Day Of
  • Arrival - Bar/Bat Mitzvah families arrive ten minutes before services are scheduled to begin. The family usually sits in the front row, right side.
  • Bring 
    • Your child’s binder for his/her readings
    • Your child’s D’var Torah
    • Your speech/words to commemorate the mitzvah
    • Extra list of Honors
    • Candy in basket
    • Optional Customized booklets
    • A bottle of water for your child
    • Spices and Havdalah candle if Mincha/Ma’ariv service
  • Candy - During Shabbat morning service, candy should be distributed when the child has begun the concluding prayer to the Haftarah. Candy is only distributed to adults.

Now relax, and enjoy this wonderful and spiritual occasion! Mazel Tov!

Shabbat Morning Honors List

Westchester Jewish Center
Mamaroneck, New York
Takes pleasure in honoring you with an

Aliyah to the Torah

You will be asked to come up at the aliyah preceding your aliyah and take a seat on the Bimah next to the Rabbi. You will then proceed to the right side of the Reader’s Table.

The Gabbai will ask for your Hebrew name and the Hebrew name of your father and/or mother. A Gabbai is a lay person who performs various duties in connection with Torah readings and stands next to the Torah reder. You may find it helpful to bring a piece of paper up to the Bimah with you to give to the Gabbai. Take one fringe of your tallit or the tie of the Torah, place it on the Torah (the Reader will show you where) and kiss it. Then recite the Hebrew blessing which is listed on the next page. After the reading is completed, you will again kiss the Torah, and recite the additional blessing. 

Do not leave. Please move just a few steps to the right of the Torah and remin through the next aliyah before returning to your seat. As you leave, please allow those who are on the Bimah to congratulate you on your honor.

Reminder: Men must wear a kippah and a tallit.

###

Westchester Jewish Center
Mamaroneck, New York
Takes pleasure in honoring you with an

Hagbah

The one who lifts the Torah

Upon being called for your honor, please sit next to the Rabbi. You will then proceed to the right side of the Reader’s Table. The Gabbai will ask for your Hebrew name and the Hebrew name of your father and/or mother. A Gabbai is a lay person who performs various duties in connection with Torah readings and stands next to the Torah reader. You may find it helpful to bring a piece of paper up to the Bimah with you to give to the Gabbai. 

When it is time to lift the Torah, please stand in front of the Reader’s Table. Holding the two wooden handles at the bottom of the Torah with each hand, slide the Torah toward you so that approximately half of the Torah is off the Table. Then proceed to push down the handles toward the floor, thus lifting the Torah up into the air. Hold the Torah up so that the congregation can see it.

It is tradition to open the Torah while holding it high so that three columns of the text are visible to the congregation. However, if you feel that this will cause you to drop or damage the Torah please do not attempt to open it that wide.  

With the Torah still held up high, proceed to the seat immediately next to the Rabbi’s. There, someone will tie and dress the Torah. After the Torah is dressed properly, someone will take the Torah from you and place it in the holder on the side of the Bimah. 

When the Torah is taken from you, you may return to your seat. As you do so, please allow those on the Bimah to congratulate you on your honor.

Reminder: Men must wear a kippah and a tallit.

###

Westchester Jewish Center
Mamaroneck, New York
Takes pleasure in honoring you with an

Gelilah

The one who ties and dresses the Torah

Upon being called for your honor, please sit next to the Rabbi. You will then proceed to the right side of the Reader's Table. The Gabbai will ask for your Hebrew name and the Hebrew name of your father and/or mother. A Gabbai is a lay person who performs various duties in connection with Torah readings and stands next to the Torah reader. You may find it helpful to bring a piece of paper up to the Bimah with you to give to the Gabbai. 

When the Torah is lifted from the Reader’s Table, it will be brought to the seat next to the Rabbi’s. Follow the Torah to that seat. If the Torah is at all open, take the top handles of the Torah and roll it tight. You will then be handed the tie, which is placed around the Torah and buckled in the front. The mantle is then placed over the Torah. The pointer is placed on the left handle. The crown is put over both handles. Someone will then take the Torah to the holder on the side of the Bimah.

When the Torah is taken, you may return to your seat. As you do so, please allow those on the Bimah to congratulate you on your honor. 

Reminder: Men must wear a kippah and a tallit.

###

Westchester Jewish Center
Mamaroneck, New York
Takes pleasure in honoring you with leading

A Prayer for Our Country

Upon being called to the Bimah, please take a seat. You will then proceed to the right lectern (facing the congregation). You then begin the prayer, and the congregation will join in. 

A Prayer for our Country appears on page 148 of the siddur. The text also appears below. 

Events and Process for B’Nei Mitzvah at WJC

** This chart is for 2022/2023. The current year 2021 is a bit different.

Overview of Torah Corps

For many of our young congregants learning collaboratively and socially is better than learning alone. In addition, our goal is to have young congregants become active, engaged members at WJC that extend beyond the B’nei Mitzvah. 

Starting in 5th grade, after receiving the date for their B’nei Mitzvah, students receive an empty binder at a kick-off ceremony with the clergy. At this event, students and their families share a blessing for the new learning journey that they are about to embark on. Over the next couple of years, there will be opportunities for students to do deep dives into the 13 Mitzvot depending on student and family interests. Modules/packets will be given, and at the B’nei Mitzvah service, the 13th Mitzvot, each student will have a completed binder that contains mementos from their personal journey.

Torah Corps begins in sixth grade. During the first semester groups, up to 10, will meet with Cantor Goldberg during Religious School. (Sixth graders not enrolled in Religious School are invited to attend the Torah Corps hour). They will learn the blessings for the Torah, Haftorah, as well as the troupe signs for the Torah and Haftorah. Students will begin to gain comfort by leading prayers on the bimah with the sound system on. 

Also during the first semester of sixth grade, families will meet individually with Cantor Ethan to discuss the individual goals and learning styles.

Second-semester sixth grade Torah Corps will have two cantors present as students begin to work on their individual B’nei Mitzvah prayers. With two cantors present, there is the opportunity for 1-1 instruction to occur. The goal is to teach students how to be good leaders and how to be good congregants. Every week, each student will have the chance to chant their assignment (it could be a prayer, part of their Haftorah or Torah) in front of the group. The group must be able to navigate the Chumash and follow along. The group will learn to wish the student who is chanting to say Yashar kokhakha (to a boy) or Yashar kokheikh (to a girl) and the student being complimented to reply, B’rukhim tihyu. Equally important as mastering their part in the service is the feeling of being part of a community and learning how to support each other.

This group model of Torah Corps with two cantors continues during seventh grade. For students who have their B’nei mitzvah earlier in the cycle, they will be encouraged to read Torah again. 

As with any B’nei Mitzvah preparation, there will be individual assignments week to week. Cantor Ethan will keep track of assignments, and students will write their assignments down on their assignment sheet in their binder. There will be additional materials and links to help students hear what their portion sounds like as well as color-coded resources. Everything will be kept in their Bar/Bat Mitzvah Binder.

13 Mitzvot

Bar/Bat Mitzvah is a “process” or a journey more than a single “event.” It is a time in your life when you are becoming more accountable and cognitively aware of your own self. In Jewish tradition, at the time of Bar/Bat Mitzvah, one becomes responsible for Mitzvot in one’s own life. 

A “Mitzvah” is a commandment; but it is also an opportunity for someone to do something special in his/her/their life, for his/her/their own benefit and for the sake of those around him/her/them. 

Our tradition teaches us that the world rests on three pillars:

TORAH: The study of Torah and Jewish tradition

AVODAH: Worship and observance of rituals

G’MILUT CHASADIM: Doing deeds of kindness

For WJC’s Thirteen Mitzvot project, we will suggest some ways that you can perform in the three above areas.  You will be able to choose from a number of suggested projects or you can create something for yourself. You should make every effort to perform twelve Mitzvot prior to your Bar/Bat Mitzvah. The thirteenth Mitzvah will be your Aliyah to the Torah on the day you celebrate your Bar/Bat Mitzvah. 

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