Where and when do we hold the ceremony?
Girls can become a Bat Mitzvah as early as 12; for boys, a Bar Mitzvah is held at 13. Contrary to popular belief, the ceremony does not have to take place on or near the student’s birthday. In fact, a Bar or Bat Mitzvah can be held at any age beyond 12 and 13.
Because access to a full-sized Torah is available for all the families with whom I work, the ceremony can be held in a variety of locations. This gives you the flexibility and creative freedom to choose a venue that will feel especially meaningful.
Most Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremonies take place on Shabbat (Saturday) morning. Other options include Shabbat (Saturday) afternoon, or the other days the Torah is customarily read: Monday, Thursday, and some Jewish Holidays.
Who officiates at the ceremony?
In truth, the Bar or Bat Mitzvah leads much of the service! My role in the service is actually one of “co-officiant” and role model. I am looking for my students to feel empowered in their knowledge of Jewish tradition. So while I am both a rabbi and a trained cantor and can fill both of these roles, my philosophy in orchestrating each service is to make sure the student is confident and well-prepared, and then to create a setting in which the Bar or Bar Mitzvah can genuinely shine.
I am also open to co-officiating with colleagues, or to my role being that of tutor, if you already have a family rabbi.
Who participates in the ceremony?
I encourage family and friends to participate! And, I will explain the flow of the service clearly so that you can decide which roles, called “honors”, will feel most appropriate for those you wish to include. I also welcome the participation of people from all faith backgrounds; I do not require that the person be Jewish in order to participate.
Can we have our ceremony for two siblings, or with another family?
Yes! This is often a great way to share the preparation and expense. To help with this, I have a special “combined rate” for teaching two students together. It has been my experience (and it is a long-standing Jewish tradition) that having a chevruta (“study buddy”) enriches the students’ experience and makes it extra fun. I’ve trained many study pairs, and conducted many shared ceremonies.
What if we’re not very religious?
My approach is more ‘spiritual’ than ‘religious’. While a certain basic framework of prayers and practices are necessary for a student to become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, I am delighted to “start from where you are” in your family’s level of observance/connection to Jewish tradition. I do not ‘force’ people into religious practices with which they may be uncomfortable. I can also help you bridge inter-generational or other family differences in levels of observance with creativity, grace, poise and tact.
I am here to teach, to make available the hidden beauty in Jewish tradition, and to help you create a ceremony that will speak to, and reflect, your Jewish values and be deeply meaningful for all present.
What is your experience?
I have 24 years of experience training Bar and Bat Mitzvah students of all ages, and have officiated at hundreds of Bar and Bat Mitzvah services in a wide variety of denominations and congregational or independent settings. That said, no two services have ever been the same; each has been as unique as the student him or herself!
I have graduate-level training with a specialty in Liturgy and Jewish Liturgical music, along with advanced training in Pastoral Counseling. Feel free to read more on my Background/Biography page.