Bar/Bat Mitzvah

Photo courtesy of the Halushka family

Bolton Street Synagogue strives to enable the preparation for and celebration of each Bar and Bat Mitzvah to be a meaningful and fulfilling experience.

Highlights of the Bolton Street Bar/Bat-Mitzvah experience include

  • A process which honors each individual as a person and accommodates his or her unique learning style
  • Regular meetings with Rabbi Gordon
  • Individual ceremonies (no “doubles”)
  • Services which are inclusive of interfaith families

Click here to read our B’nai Mitzvah Manual.

Significance of the Bar/Bat Mizvah

Bar/bat mitzvah may be viewed as a new beginning in the life of an emerging adult, as well as in the life of his or her family.

  • B’nai mitzvah may be viewed as a change in status in accord with Jewish sacred heritage.
  • Bar/Bat mitzvah affirms the decision to formally enter the Jewish community and, according to our tradition, is a time of choosing one’s group identity.
  • Bar/Bat mitzvah functions as a springboard to further strengthen the Jewish experience of the family and the student, and reinforce their engagement with the community. Such a view mandates that the actual celebration day becomes an event in a continuum of Jewish education and participation.

This continuum should be designed to build new peer relationships, to encourage community service, to encourage Torah study, to shape a philosophy of Judaism, and to strengthen the ties of family members to each other and the family’s commitment to the Jewish community.

A period of preparation for “coming of age” is an ancient tradition among the Jewish people. For the sake of continuity with Jewish heritage, we categorize the Bolton Street guidelines according to three goals:

  • Connection to Jewish spirituality
  • Mastery of Jewish rituals, skills and community leadership
  • Engagement in tikkun olam (repairing the world)

Requirements for Bar/Bat Mitzvah at BSS

  • Enrollment in religious school or Jewish day school
  • Membership in the synagogue
  • Mastery of selected Hebrew texts, including a Torah portion
  • Preparing a lesson of Torah (d’var Torah/speech)
  • Completion of a mitzvah project

Mitzvah Project

An important part of the bar/bat mitzvah process is the mitzvah project for which the student picks a project that supports values that s/he feels are important. The following are examples of bar/bat mitzvah projects: 

  • Collecting supplies for the animals at the SPCA or BARCS
  • Tutoring at an elementary school
  • Assisting in an after-school program for young children
  • Collecting books for an underprivileged school library 
  • Collecting 1950 pairs of socks for homeless Baltimoreans
  • Volunteering in a nursing home with the elderly
  • Raising awareness of the genocide in Darfur