If you have a forthcoming bar mitzvah then Mazel Tov. Please call the shul office to book the date and for information regarding the shul’s Barmitzvah programme including the US Barmitzvah test that is required for all those wishing to have a Barmitzvah service in a US synagogue.
At the start of the fourteenth year of a boy's life - namely, the day of his thirteenth Hebrew birthday - he becomes a Bar Mitzvah, a "son of the commandments." He is required to keep all the mitzvot (commandments) pertaining to Jewish men, such as being counted towards a minyan and laying tefillin. The week after his birthday he will be called to the Torah to say the brachot (blessings) and his father relinquishes responsibility for him (do we ever!). It is customary for the boy to lein the maftir (final) section of the weeks' parsha (chapter) and the haftarah (reading from the Prophets) for that week.
The preparation for this understandably takes some time, and there are registered teachers withn the United Synagogue that can we can recommend and of course our Rabbi is there to help.
Bat Mitzvah means "daughter of the commandments". It refers to a girl's coming to maturity in terms of Jewish law, which according to the Talmud (Nida 45b) is when she reaches her twelfth Hebrew birthday -one year earlier than boys. The Talmud recognises that not only do girls grow up earlier from a physical point of view, but from an emotional one as well. They are considered to be able to handle the responsibility that comes with maturity from a more tender age.
There is now a Bat Mitzvah test, parallel to the existing Bar Mitzvah test for boys, which girls must pass. This course requires studying of the Torah and considering her role within the Jewish community.
For a more personal touch, our Rabbi's wife can learn with the girl, prepare her Dvar Torah with her, and can also arrange an evening for all the female members of the family for the girls actual Hebrew birthday, where the girl makes a blessing upon taking challah on behalf of her family for the first time. For details, please contact the Synagogue office.