Bar/Bat Mitzvah Guidelines
The Library Minyan welcomes bar and bat mitzvah celebrations of member families. These guidelines are meant to help families plan their bar/bat mitzvah in a way that is meaningful and enjoyable for them while also fitting into the Library Minyan’s traditions and practices.
Scheduling a Bar/Bat Mitzvah at the Library Minyan
Please contact the Simcha Coordinator, Gabbai Coordinator, or Rosh Minyan (see our main web page www.libraryminyan.org for contact info) as soon as your desired date is determined. Most dates should be available, but there are some other events on our calendar that might not be compatible with a bar/bat mitzvah. You can see the calendar for the current Jewish year at www.libraryminyan.org/gabbai, which will tell you who the Gabbai will be on your desired date.
If you are a new or infrequent participant with Library Minyan, we encourage your attendance in the months preceding the event so we can get to know each other better and you can become familiar with our practices. Your child is welcome to take a small part in the services (such as leading the Eyn K’elohenu, Aleinu, or Ashrei prayer) in advance of the bar/bat mitzvah, to get more comfortable with being on the bimah.
It is assumed that the family is a member of Temple Beth Am, and has arranged for training in prayer skills as part of their membership. If you wish assistance in exploring options for this, please contact Rabbi Chorny or the Rosh Minyan.
The Library Minyan is flexible on how much of the service a child will lead. The usual minimum is to read the final aliyah (on the triennial cycle) from the Torah scroll, chant the Haftarah, and deliver a d’var Torah. Some children are able to read more aliyot from the Torah and/or lead parts of the service. The family should decide on an appropriate level of participation that matches their child’s interest and abilities. Doing less with confidence and quality is better than taking on too much. The family should notify the Gabbai of the portions of the service they will cover at least a month in advance.
The Library Minyan service normally begins at 9:45 am (after Mishnah study) on regular Shabbatot and at 9:30 on days when Hallel is recited. If you think that the service is likely to run longer than usual for your family plans, it is possible to start at 9:30. Please discuss this with the Simcha Coordinator before preparing your invitations.
Depending on what other events are taking place at the Minyan on any particular week, as many as four other Aliyot and additional honors described below may also be available to the families celebrating a bar/bat mitzvah. Please remind guest receiving an Aliyah to be prepared to recite the blessings before and after the reading, and provide the Gabbai for the week with their Hebrew names (in Hebrew or English transliteration), including if the individual is the son or daughter of a Kohen or Levi, by the Wednesday before the event. Each person receiving any honors must be Jewish in accordance with the standards of Conservative Judaism.
Since more than one simcha may take place on any particular Shabbat, fewer Aliyot or honors connected to your bar/bat mitzvah may be available on some weeks; the Simcha Coordinator and the Gabbai for the week will finalize specific arrangements with each family.
In addition to Aliyah, the family may wish to utilize one or more of the following synagogue honors:
Ark Openings (two people for each): The Aron Kodesh is opened to take out the Torah for reading, and to return the Torah after it is read. The honor of P’tikha (opening and closing the Aron Kodesh) does not require prior skill or physical strength, other than the ability to stand in front of the congregation for 3-5 minutes. If there are people who you wish to honor who have little or no experience in traditional synagogue participation, this honor would be most appropriate. The Gabbai will tell the honorees when to open and close the aron.
Carrying the Torah: This person will receive the Torah scroll from the prayer leader and carry it around the congregation when it is taken from and returned to the aron during the Torah service. Some strength, but no prayer skills are needed. The Gabbai will provide directions.
Hagbah and Gelilah: The person honored with Hagbah must be able to lift the Torah from its position on the reader’s table to a position above his or her head, in order to display the open scroll to the congregation. Out of respect to the Torah and the congregation, the person performing this honor must have prior experience lifting the Torah to take this honor. The person honored with Gelilah will help roll, tie and dress the Torah, but does not lift the scroll.
Prayer Leaders and Torah Readers: It can make the day more meaningful to have members of the family and friends participate in leading services or reading Torah. Any guest who is given the honor of leading a part of the service should be proficient in the correct nusach (prayer melody), and the Minyan’s ritual procedures (e.g., what is said out loud and/or silently, and whether the Amidah is a short version or full repetition). If unfamiliar with our practices, the requested prayer leader should discuss this with the Gabbai or the Ritual Committee Chair well in advance.
In the Library Minyan we read the Torah according to the Conservative Movement’s triennial schedule. The appropriate readings for your date should be confirmed well in advance. Anyone reading Torah must know how to read with correct trope (melody) and pronunciation, and must be adequately prepared. We are happy to provide coaching or a chance to practice for anyone needing some help, but this is a “skill” position and requires the necessary expertise. The Gabbai can arrange this.
Short Prayers: Several prayers read at the conclusion of the Torah Service may be led separately from the surrounding parts of the tefillot. They are:
Prayer for our Country (may be led by a non-Jew)
Prayer for the State of Israel (in Hebrew)
Prayer for Peace (may be led by a non-Jew)
The people honored by leading the congregational recitation of these prayers must be able to speak clearly and with presence before a large group. The person reading the Prayer for the State of Israel must be fluent in reading Hebrew. All of these may be led by 1 or 2 people. The texts of these prayers are in the Siddur Sim Shalom Shabbat/Festival edition, at pages 148-149, and in the Siddur Lev Shalem, at pages 177-178.
Clergy and Parents’ Remarks
It is customary for one of the Rabbis of Temple Beth Am to speak to the bar/bat mitzvah after the Torah reading or at the end of services. The TBA President may also provide a short talk and gifts at the end of services.
The parents of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah may recite the traditional parental prayer after the Torah reading or an alternative version. They may also speak briefly (no more than 2 minutes) from the bimah at that time or at the end of services. Longer remarks should be reserved for Kiddush or a private family celebration.
General Information about the Library Minyan
The Gabbai: Each Library Minyan service is arranged and coordinated by one of the Gabbaim of the Library Minyan. The Gabbai is responsible for selecting those who will be sh’lichei tzibbur (representatives of the community) by leading each section of the tefillot, and for assigning all the honors during the service. The Gabbai is responsible for addressing any unforeseen situations that arise during the service. You can determine the Gabbai for the week of your bar/bat mitzvah by checking our web site www.libraryminyan.org/gabbai, and you should work closely with him/her to arrange the details of the day, including any family members who may wish to lead parts of the service, read Torah or Haftarah, or receive some other honor. These arrangements should be completed as soon as possible and at least several weeks in advance to ensure that those roles have not already been assigned.
Greeters: The Library Minyan has a “greeter” at the Chapel door to welcome newcomers who may not be familiar with our minyan, and help guests find kippot and tallitot, Siddurim and Chumashim, and seating. If some of your guests may be unfamiliar with the Minyan and its customs, please alert the Simcha Coordinator and suggest a friend of yours from the Minyan community to help the assigned “greeter” that week.
Flowers: The Minyan does not customarily decorate its prayer space with flowers, to avoid problems with scents and allergies. Should you wish to provide a small floral piece, please coordinate it with the Simcha Coordinator and the TBA Facility Coordinator (Amy Rabin, x213).
Ritual Apparel and Attire
Attire: Although the Library Minyan does not have a formal dress code, we expect that all persons attending our services will dress with respect for the congregation, the prayer service, and (most importantly) the One to whom our prayers are directed. Please share this with your guests. Jackets and ties for men are optional, as the family prefers.
Headcover and Tallit for those receiving Honors: Anyone who comes before the congregation to lead any part of the service (prayer leaders, Torah readers, and those having aliyot) or receive an honor must wear a head covering and tallit. This applies to both men and women. Please share this information with those who you would like to honor. We have a supply of tallitot and headcovers that can be used by guests.
Headcover and Tallit for guests: All men attending the service are requested to wear a headcover. Simple coverings for both men and women are available for guests to use. The Library Minyan welcomes all Jewish adults to wear a tallit if it is their personal practice to do so.
Each community has its own customs and standards of appropriate synagogue behavior. We hope that you will share the following information on the Library Minyan’s customs and expectations with your guests.
Talking: We hope that all who attend services with us will respect the service and the leaders of the service through their attentive participation, and limit conversation to occasional quiet whispers. There should be no talking during the Torah and Haftarah reading and the d’var Torah.
Coming and Going: It is our custom to avoid entering or leaving the room during certain parts of the service: during the kedushah, when the Torah is being read, and during the d’var Torah.
Young Children: The Library Minyan welcomes young children to join their parents at services. Feel free to bring books, snacks, and toys to help them pass the time happily and quietly. Children are welcome to come forward during the ark opening and to join in singing Adon Olam at the end of the service. If children become restive, parents may take them to the nearby lobby or playground. We expect that children may talk or cry on occasion, but we appreciate quiet particularly during the Torah reading and the d’var Torah.
Photography, Videography & Other Electronics: The Library Minyan does not allow the use of any sound or video recording devices, or any electronic devices other than the microphone system, on Shabbat or Chagim – either before or during services, or at a Kiddush/lunch afterwards. Guests who are not on-call medical professionals should silence cell phones, etc., before entering Temple Beth Am.
Throwing Candy: The family is welcome to provide SOFT candies to toss gently after their child reads the last aliyah and the accompanying Mi She’Berakh is completed.
As part of celebrating with the Library Minyan community, it is our hope that the family will share their simcha with the Library Minyan congregation by sponsoring a festive congregational kiddush following the service. Both in-house and outside catering options are available. Please see our Kiddush web page (www.libraryminyan.org/Kiddush.html) and contact the Kiddush Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org) for advice about this.