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B'nai Mitzvah Process & Preparation

A. B’nai Mitzvah Lessons:


Cantor Simon tutors all students. B’nai Mitzvah Lessons begins approximately eight months prior to the student becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. Cantor Simon contacts each family to begin the tutoring process. If your child has special needs and requires a private tutor, you must discuss this with Cantor Simon. He has a list of approved tutors. All outside B’nai Mitzvah lessons must be approved in advance and coordinated through Cantor Simon. B’nai Mitzvah students are expected to practice diligently and daily. Cantor Simon can be reached at or 847-446-7215 ext. 20.


B. Coordination:

Nancy Holab Nevins, our Executive Director, facilitates the logistical details of B’nai Mitzvah with our Am Yisrael families. Nancy can be reached at or 847-446-7215 ext. 14.


C. D’var Torah:


Rabbi Newman Kamin meets with B’nai Mitzvah students and their parents and studies the parasha with them.  Rabbi Newman Kamin’s assistant Myra Feinberg schedules these meetings.  Myra can be reached at or 847-446-7215 ext. 11.  It has been a long-standing tradition at Am Yisrael for our students to write a D’var Torah, including an analysis of their Bar/Bat Mitzvah Torah portion.  There are several elements to the written D’var Torah.  In addition, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah may opt to deliver a brief verbal D’var Torahfrom the bimah.  Rabbi Newman Kamin can be reached at or 847-446-7215 ext. 13. 


D. Inclusion:

One of the values we hope to impart to our children is a sensitivity and kindness to others.  Unfortunately, in the past we have had parents come to us deeply disturbed because their child was the only one who wasn’t invited to a classmate’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah.  We have therefore developed a policy that requires that either all the children in the class are invited.  It is an incredibly powerful Jewish life-cycle experience when the entire School of Jewish Studies class sings a prayer near the end of the service together.  It promotes a sense of community within the class, and we have seen the classes that are consistently included in this celebration bond in ways that are surprising and that carry through into High School.  Please let Gleivy deSouza in the synagogue office or 847-446-7215 know if you need the addresses of each child in the upcoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah classes.  Those who have online accounts can access class lists via our synagogue’s website:


E. Mitzvah projects:

Bar and Bat Mitzvah students are expected to participate in at least three mitzvah projects in three categories, the benefits the following: (1) Our Am Yisrael Congregation; (2) Israel; (3) A student’s own passion. Here is a link to learn about the mitzvah projects in much greater depth: Mr. Sherman along with the B’nai Mitzvah students SJS Teachers are the point people for the mitzvah projects.

F. On Your Special Day:

Upon becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, our Am Yisrael teens typically chant their Torah and Haftorah portions, lead selected prayers in the service and share a written D’var Torah. Again, the basic D’var Torah expectations were briefly highlighted in Letter “C” above.


G. One Year Before:


We encourage families to come to Am Yisrael services on the Shabbat that corresponds with the Shabbat one year prior to a student becoming Bar or Bat Mitzvah. Our main goal is to have the parents and B’nai Mitzvah students listen to the Torah reading and the Rabbi’s D’var Torah. Our hope is that you may gain some insights on the Torah reading that will be so meaningful the following year and in preparation for your special day. If the date is not on another student’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah we encourage students to help lead prayers on this day as well. Otherwise we will be glad to help find a different day for your Bar/Bat Mitzvah student to help lead prayers on a Shabbat, beyond their regular SFP and/or Sunday Morning Minyan participation.


H. Significance of this Jewish life cycle experience:

The celebration of a Bar or Bat Mitzvah is a highly significant life cycle event for the immediate family as well as for our entire congregation. We join together to celebrate with the family and to welcome the Bar or Bat Mitzvah into the adult community. At this time, we recognize the child’s educational and religious accomplishments and renew our own commitment to Judaism. A Bar or Bat Mitzvah is not an end. Rather, it is a beginning and a very exciting and important time in Jewish life when one becomes a “Son or Daughter of the Commandments.” The event on that date is greatly impacted by the student’s consistent attendance at our School of Jewish Studies and/or Jewish Day School and serious application to his or her studies. We expect our B’nai Mitzvah students to become thoroughly familiar with the main Shabbat morning service by attending such services with regularity. While we do not formally take attendance at services, we ask parents to give significant attention to that attending services, which is an essential part of the child’s preparation for Bar/Bat Mitzvah. In addition to Shabbat Family Programming (SFP), in order for parents to be familiar with the Shabbat service, we urge that upcoming B’nai Mitzvah students attend Shabbat services with their parent(s) at least five times during the year prior to the day of the celebration.

Tue, June 22 2021 12 Tammuz 5781