It is our conviction that the education of each yeshiva student is a shared responsibility between parents and teachers.Therefore, We wish to Set forth clear guidelines concerning the celebration of Bar/Bat Mitzvah, So that we can all enjoy these Occasions in the proper Jewish spirit.
The essential idea, which lies at the core of Bar/Bat Mitzvah, is that the boy or girl is reaching adulthood.The celebration of Bar/Bat Mitzwah highlights the point in a child’s life when the commandments become binding and the obligation to perform them begins. It is the time when the central theme of Judaism — the acceptance of mitzvot — becomes manifest in the life of a young Jew. In a sense, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah personally reaffirms the revelation of God to our people at Sinai and the binding character of Jewish Law upon oneself. Bar/Bat Mitzvah is the time when educational training is translated into concrete obligations and good thoughts are translated into good deeds.Therefore, the new member of the community should be welcomed into our midst in a manner consistent with the underlying character and significance of the event. It presents an opportunity for parents to stress the importance of mitzvot such as prayer, birkat hamazon, Shabbat, tzedaka, avoidance of lashon harah, modesty in dress and speech, (in the case of a boy, tallit and tefillin,) and a sense of responsibility for all Jews, for all mankind, and for the world in which we live.The Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration, therefore, must be understood as being part of a very serious moment in the life of a child. It should not begin and end with parties and gifts, although these are proper vehicles for highlighting the moment. All of the events which are associated with the celebration should reflect the true nature of this moment in your child’s life, and should serve as a springboard for his/her acceptance of mitzvot.
As you look ahead to planning the celebration of your child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah, we urge you to consult with your family rabbi on the religious and ritual content of the simcha.The administration of NSHA will be pleased to give you any help that you request.The beginning of that help may be found in this booklet, which sets forth guidelines to assist you with your plans.
BAR MITZWAH CALENDAR
In order to avoid conflicts with classmates, please register the date (Torah readings/simcha) with the NSHA Bar/Bat Mitzvah registry coordinator at least two years before the Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Do not invite half the grade or gender, include the entire grade or class. Invitations to any party may be distributed in class only if ALL students in the class are invited.
The location of celebratory events must be appropriate for a yeshiva student. Entertainment and dress must be appropriate. Families of NSHA students are expected to be sensitive to the many families that follow diverse religious heritages and practices as well as to the requisite standards of propriety and behavior befitting the celebration of an event of great religious significance. In planning parties, therefore, every effort must be made to con form to these Standards.
• KASHRUT All kashrut Standards of the NSHA, as Outlined in Our Parent-Student Handbook should be maintained at all Bar/Bat Mitzvot. Only mainstream, widely-accepted Rabbinic Kashrut Organizations should be used to certify that the affair is kosher. Individual certifying rabbis should be avoided.
The period between Pesach and Shavuot is a time of Sadness for the Jewish people. Known as sefirat haomer, it commemorates a period in the second century when 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva are said to have perished in a plague. Generally, 33 days of partial mourning are observed, depending on one’s custom, from either the second night of Pesach until the 33rd day of the Omer (Lag b’Omer) or from Rosh Chodesh lyar until erew Shavuot.The four exceptions are Rosh Chodesh lyar, Israel Independence Day, Lag b’Omer and Yom Yerushalayim. We recognize this may be a bit confusing, so we encourage you to check with your family rabbi or your Child’s Hebrew teacher well in advance.
The parents of the celebrant, and NSHA parents in general, should encourage the children to arrive on time for Services and remain in their seats until the conclusion of the Service. SHABBAT If you are inviting students who do not live within walking distance of the syna gogue for Shabbat, sleeping accommodations for Friday night and arrangements for meals must be provided with full observance of Shab bat. For Saturday night parties, be sure there is sufficient time after Shabbat to allow guests to dress and travel before the party begins; at least two hours should be allotted.
Parties should not be Scheduled on a School night, which would make it difficult for Students to be on time for School the next morning. For evening parties, please note on the invitation the time and location where the children should be picked up. Children should not be invited to stay beyond 11:00PM.
Chartered to transport NSHA children to and from any family party must be chaperoned.
The use of alcohol by underage children is unlawful and extremely dangerous. Moreover, it is unlawful to dispense alcohol to children. Students must not attend parties where they can obtain and drink alcoholic beverages. Parents must take all necessary precautions with caterers to ensure that this situation does not arise.
In addition to the music and entertainment you plan for your adult guests, consider special music, games and activities that are socially and developmentally appropriate for 12–13 year old children. Simcha dancing gives your guests an opportunity to express their joy, and to honor the family of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah. By opening the celebration with simcha dancing, the appropriate tone is set.
Motivational dancers are inappro priate for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration. If there is a question, we urge parents to consult with the NSHA Administration, or local rabbis for appropriate alternatives to enhance your Simcha.
Part of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah experience that many families take advantage of is the opportunity to celebrate with their classmates inschool, with a collation/Kiddush. Boys are given the opportunity to be called to the Torah for their first aliya and to lead the services. Girls have an opportunity to deliver a Dwarorah. We encourage the immediate family members to be present Pease contact the middle school office to reserve the date, and to obtain the list of refreshments.
We also request that parents do not schedule private t’fila services while school is in sesson. Its inappropriate to deprive classmates from participating in your simcha,as we encourage unity and harmony In addition, private parties that are given during the school day interrupt instruction. We, therefore, request that parents adhere to our long-standing school policy.
Finally, the time of simcha is also a time to remember the needy. We would like to suggest that you give to a charity a percentage of the cost of all aspects of the Bar/bat Mitzvah events: rentals, clothing, flowers, invitations, etc. Let your child know that a charity will receive a special gift in honor of his/her Bar/Bat Mitzvah and encourage your child to participate in the choice of charity.
BAR/BAT MIT-WAH REGISTRY
We urge all students to participate in the Bar/Bat Mitzvah registry, rather than engage in individual gift giving. Pleasespeak to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah coordinator regarding details of this program
We constantly strive to make everyone of our children’s experiences an educational one. Therefore, we urge your help by making sure that the content of your child’s celebration will have significant educational value.
For example, parents should arrange that the boy or girl delivers a D’var Torah. A communal Birkat Hamazon makes sure that the general atmosphere of the gathering is besetting of a yeshiva family. Religious and moral behavior is best”caught rather than taught.”
The planning of a Bar/BatMitzvah celebration can teach your child many important religious and moral lessons. What you do and how you actin anticipating this great moment in your child’s life will help shape his/her future behavior and values. May your celebration have God’s blessing and presence.
We take this opportunity to express our heartfelt congratulations and Mazal Tov on your forthcoming simcha
Rabbi Jeffrey Kobrin and Rabbi Adam Acobas