Policies

REQUIREMENTS FOR BAR/BAT MITZVAH

Subsequent to the meeting your family will be assigned a BAR/BAT MITZVAH MENTOR, drawn from the clergy or a Director of one of the arms of the Galinsky Academy.  Please note that the mentor does not provide tutoring for bar/bat mitzvah; this is the role of our Ritual Director, Mr. David Wolinsky, and in certain areas, Hazzan Holzer.  Rather, the mentor’s responsibility is to offer guidance to each family, ensure the completion of all bar/bat mitzvah prerequisites, and connect individual families to one another and the congregation at large.

As we strive to make the attainment of bar/bat mitzvah a deeper and more meaningful Jewish experience, we have created a varied program of prerequisites designed to engage the entire family throughout the years leading to the celebration of becoming a Jewish adult and beyond.  Our ultimate goal is to make the process a transformative one embracing both parents and children, rather than view everything through the lens of celebrating one bid day in a child’s life that has little resonance thereafter.  Accordingly, our BAR/BAT MITZVAH MENTORS will work in tandem with families to ensure that the prerequisites described below are met over the 2-3 year period between receiving a date and the actual bar/bat mitzvah.

Policies outlined below are detailed later on this handbook.

PRE- BAR/BAT MITZVAH COMMITTMENT (FULFILLED BY ALL BAR/BAT MITZVAH CANDIDATES AND THEIR FAMILIES):

  • Ongoing enrollment in and regular attendance at the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School or the Bernard and Alice Selevan Religious School throughout the pre-bar/bat mitzvah period through graduation.
  • Be a member in good standing at the Jacksonville Jewish Center.
  • Attend Shabbat services and the Saturday morning bar/bat mitzvah class on a regular basis.
  • Attendance at three (3) programs of family education per year.
  • Boys (girls are strongly encouraged) must own their own personal pair of Tefillin and Tallit.

POST BAR/BAT MITZVAH COMMITMENT.

CANDIDATES FOR BAR/BAT MITZVAH MUST CHOOSE TWO OF THE FOLLOWING AS A POST BAR/BAT MITZVAH COMMITMENT.  PLEASE NOTE THIS CHOICE MUST BE MADE PRIOR TO THE CELEBRATION OF BAR/BAT MITZVAH AND WILL BE SHARED WITH THE COMMUNITY.

THOSE WHO WISH TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR BAR/BAT MTIZVAH WITH HONORS SHOULD SELECT ONE OR MORE ADDITIONAL ITEM(S).  

  • Enroll and attend the Setzer Youth Education Hebrew High School.
  • Participate actively in Kadimah/USY following bar/bat mitzvah.
  • Pursue and attain Yad shel Chai  by reading 18 aliyot post-bar/bat mitzvah.
  • Serve as a madrikh or madrikhah for Shabbat morning youth services, or post-graduation, during school hours at the Bernard and Alice Selevan Religious School.
  • Commit to attendance at one minyan per week, morning or evening.
  • Continue to attend Camp Ramah Darom.
  • Learn new liturgical skills by joining the “Cantor’s Club” and leading different services within the congregation.
  • Commit to attendance at any regular program of Adult Education (e.g., Talmud class, Coffee & Torah, CHAI Mitzvah program etc.)

MITZVAH PROGRAM

AS A FAMILY CHOOSE A MINIMUM OF  THIRTEEN (13) MITZVOT FROM THE FOLLOWING LIST OVER THE 2-3 PERIOD OF PREPARATION.  YOUR BAR/BAT MITZVAH MENTOR WILL ENCOURAGE YOU TO FOCUS ON RITUALS AND CELEBRATIONS YOU MAY NOT YET HAVE EXPERIENCED.  AFTER EACH MITZVAH, YOU WILL BE ASKED AS A FAMILY TO FILL OUT THE ATTACHED “TELL US ABOUT IT” SHEET. YOUR BAR/BAT MITZVAH MENTOR WILL HELP YOU IN CHOOSING FROM A WIDE RANGE OF DIFFERENT PRECEPTS, SO THAT YOUR SELECTIONS INCLUDE BOTH RITUAL AND ETHICAL PRECEPTS, AS WELL AS OPPORTUNITIES FOR PRAYER, STUDY, AND THE OBSERVANCE OF SHABBAT AND HOLIDAYS.

THOSE WHO WISH TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR BAR/BAT MITZVAH WITH HONORS SHOULD SELECT AN ADDITIONAL FIVE (5) ITEMS TO MAKE FOR A TOTAL OF EIGHTEEN (18) MITZVOT.

Synagogue

  1. Parent learns how to read Torah and reads publicly at least once prior to bar/bat mitzvah.
  2. Attend one weekday morning and one weekday evening minyan.
  3. Read the Torah portion of your child’s bar/bat mitzvah and discuss it as a family.
  1. Purchase a Lulav and Etrog set and use it as a family during Sukkot.
  2. Attend a Yom Tov service on a weekday morning
  3. Learn Torah as a family at our Tikkun Leyl Shavu’ot program.
  4. Attend a Kabbalat Shabbat service as a family at least three times.
  5. Attend a Shabbat afternoon service as a family at least three times.
  6. Learn how to tie tzitzit knots and make Tallitot for members of your family.
  7. Study the what, how and why of counting the Omer and perform the mitzvah between Passover and Shavu’ot.
  8. Fulfill the mitzvah of hearing the entire Megillah on Purim.
  9. Attend selihot (the penitential service) the week before Rosh Hashanah.
  10. Purchase a shofar, learn how to blow it properly, and volunteer to blow shofar at a weekday morning service during the month of Elul.
  11. Selection of another of the 613 Commandments with guidance from your mentor!

Home

  1. Read about the mitzvah of mezuzah  and affix a mezuzah with berakhah and ceremony to a doorway in your home presently lacking one.
  2. Build a Sukkah.
  3. Observe kashrut in your home for a weekend.
  4. Refrain from eating hametz during Passover.
  5. Learn about and recite havdalah at the end of Shabbat at home.
  6. Recite the bedtime Sh’ma as a family at least three times.
  7. Identify 2 ways of ecological conservation in your home and implement them.
  8. Invite guests to your home for Shabbat or other holidays (not friends or family, but someone who would otherwise be alone)
  9. Refrain from using your smartphone or the internet for an entire Shabbat.
  10. Learn and recite Shabbat prayers at your Friday night family dinner.
  11. Learn the short form of Birkat Hamazon (Grace after meals) and recite it as a family at least three times.
  12. Learn how to lead a seder at your home on the first or second night of Passover.
  13. Fulfill the mitzvah of mishloah manot by sending ready-to-eat food to friends and neighbors on Purim day.
  14. Learn five different Berakhot and recite them as appropriate over the course of a week.
  15. Recite Tefillat Ha-Derekh (the Traveler’s Prayer) before taking a family vacation and prior to returning home.
  16. Discuss the mitzvah of teshuvah (repentance) as a family and consider how to make the High Holidays more meaningful.
  17. Refrain from gossiping or talking negatively (lashon hara) about others for 24 hours.
  18. Perform the mitzvah of hakhnasat orhim, to provide hospitality on Shabbat or a holiday for someone who is alone and has nowhere to celebrate.
  19. Buy a set of Tefillin and learn how to put them on with your child in preparation for bar/bat mitzvah.
  20. Take an online Hebrew class and practice reading together during the duration of the class.

Community

  1. Volunteer at the Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless.
  2. Plant a tree in Israel and learn about this mitzvah.
  3. Visit the sick (outside of any mitzvah project or program in school)
  4. Visit a nursing home to show respect for the elderly (outside of any mitzvah project or program in school)
  5. Attend a shiva minyan.
  6. Participate in a charity walk or run on a day other than Shabbat
  7. Give tzedakah to 5 organizations: 2 in Israel, 2 Jewish institutions in Jacksonville, 1 of your choice, and share why you chose these causes.
  8. Study about the commandment of tzar ba’alei hayim (compassion toward animals) and raise awareness about how to prevent cruelty toward animals.
  9. Fulfill the mitzvah of showing respect to the elderly by visiting residents of River Garden.
  10. Establish a pen-pal relationship with a child or family in Israel.

Educational Policy:

B’nei Mitzvah training begins during the twelfth birthday year. Eligibility to celebrate a Bar/Bat Mitzvah requires membership in good standing at the Jacksonville Jewish Center, as well as the following:

  1. Enrollment in and satisfactory attendance at a program of religious education.  While each child must complete formal classroom study in grades 3 – 8, we strongly encourage parents to provide a Jewish education for their children at the pre-school level, as well as from kindergarten through the 2nd grade.  In accepting a Bar/Bat Mitzvah date from the synagogue, parents explicitly pledge to complete their children’s Jewish education through graduation from 8th grade.  The educational requirement may be fulfilled through attendance at the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School or the Bernard and Alice Selevan Religious School.
  1. For students withdrawn from the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School before 8th grade: Enrollment in the appropriate grade and satisfactory attendance at the Bernard and Alice Selevan Religious School to fulfill the required years of formal classroom study in grades 3-8.  The Religious School is committed to providing a Hebrew curriculum appropriate to those of day school background.  
  1. For students whose families have recently relocated to Jacksonville: Enrollment in the appropriate program of religious education at the Center.  Private tutoring may be recommended for students in need of remedial work. While the synagogue will endeavor to locate an appropriate tutor in such cases, remuneration remains the responsibility of the family.
  1. An evaluation of the student’s Hebrew reading skills by the Ritual Director to confirm that a Bar/Bat Mitzvah date may be scheduled.
  1. B’nei Mitzvah certificates are presented upon completion of the 8th grade program at either the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School or Setzer Youth Education Hebrew High School.  Withdrawal from the Center’s educational program at any time before the Bar/Bat Mitzvah date will result in the automatic cancellation of the event.

Family Educational Policy:

 

The Jacksonville Jewish Center believes that the preparation for, and celebration of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah is a family experience. It is a time when the family comes of age.  There are many avenues to which this family process can be enhanced.  Families should attend services together as often as possible.  As dugma’ot (role models), parents can attend Adult Education classes, Hebrew classes, or Learner’s services to show that education continues far beyond the day when you become Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Parents can also create their own personal tefillah (prayer) goals. In turn, we have recently launched a brand-new Family B’nei Mitzvah Education Program, allowing and encouraging children and parents to learn together in preparation for Bar/Bat Mitzvah and find their own unique meaning in this significant milestone. We will explore such issues as the transitional process from being a child to becoming an adult, the meaning of Jewish responsibility, the celebration from a Jewish perspective, the changing role of parents in the lives of teenagers, and the challenges of growing up as a Jew in the 21st century. This program meets monthly and is meant for fifth and sixth graders and their families.

We will have the ability to tackle some key issues that families face during Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation, such as:

  • Parents and Children together studying and finding meaning in the Bar/Bat Mitzvah’s Torah and Haftarah portion
  • Digging deeper into our liturgy in order to find meaning in prayer and finding ways to make our worship service more accessible to family members and guests
  • Tackling the challenges of prayer and the struggle of fixed prayer versus spontaneous prayer
  • Adding Mitzvah to the Bar and Bat Mitzvah experience – making this world a better place as a Jewish adult
  • Doing Tzedakah and helping others a part of the Bar and Bat Mitzvah… and a part of our lives!
  • Emotional/Historical significance of Bar Mitzvah and the ever-changing dynamic between teenager and parent.
  • Defining the Bar/Bat Mitzvah – What does this day mean anyway? Why do I have to prepare so much? What happens after my Bar/Bat Mitzvah? What then?
  • A Conversation on Parental Involvement – How parents can serve as positive role models to show their children the importance of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah
  • A Journey of Choice: Jewish Adulthood and Responsibility – What responsibility and obligation to we now have to do mitzvot? What responsibility do we have to make this world a better place? What responsibility to we have to each other?
  • Celebrations! – Appreciating and Understanding the Seudat Mitzvah – How we can still “party,” but make sure that the Bar/Bat Mitzvah service, rather than the reception is the focal point of the experience
  • The Ritual Objects that we wear as Jewish Adults – The importance and beauty of Tallit and Tefillin which serve as a visual reminder of God’s presence and our continued commitment and responsibility as B’nei Mitzvah
  • The Bar/Bat Mitzvah Boogie: Choreography for the synagogue.

Synagogue Attendance Policy:

The act of becoming a Jewish adult requires recognition of greater responsibility and involvement in communal life.  Regular attendance at services teaches this value in a concrete way.  In practical terms, consistent attendance also acquaints the child and his or her parents with members of the community and the synagogue’s approach to worship.

The Center has wonderful regular Shabbat youth programming, beginning with Preschoolers with our Gan Shabbat program and continuing on with our Camp Shabbat and iShabbat programs for Elementary school children. Our Family minyan encourages, for elementary school children and their families, encourages everyone to take an actie role.  These programs allow children to familiarize themselves with the Shabbat liturgy in a fun, meaningful, and age-appropriate atmosphere.

Regular attendance at Shabbat morning services is expected for all children preparing for B’nei Mitzvah once they receive a Bar/Bar Mitzvah date. To receive attendance credit students must arrive on Shabbat morning no later than 10 AM, and remain until the conclusion of the service. We keep a list on the bima of all students registered in the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School and the Bernard and Alice Selevan Religious School. At the conclusion of services, please let Rabbi Lubliner, Rabbi Tilman, or Hazzan Holzer know of your attendance so that we can give you the credit you deserve for your attendance. Please do not assume that just because you were seen by a member of the clergy, you will be marked off. You must acknowledge you presence at the end of the service.

In addition to Shabbat morning, Students who wish to lead either the Friday evening or Shabbat afternoon service must fulfill the attendance prerequisite for these services prior to learning to lead them, and must obtain the consent of Hazzan Holzer.

Parents play a pivotal role in preparation for this special event in their child’s life.  We urge you to attend services regularly with your son or daughter.  Doing so sends a powerful, positive message to him/her about your religious commitment.  Conversely, dropping off a child, but not coming in with him/her communicates a powerful, negative message about the value you place on synagogue attendance as a parent.  It is not surprising that the children most receptive to services are the ones whose parents are present, teaching them by way of example.  When at services, we encourage parents to sit together with their children – doing so ensures greater decorum and engenders a more familial experience. Even if you are unfamiliar with the liturgy or uncomfortable with the Shabbat experience, your simple presence at services with your child sends a powerful message. Also, don’t let Hebrew competency be a barrier! We acknowledge that members of our community have various skill sets and different Hebrew levels. We offer Shema Koleinu transliteration booklets to compliment the Shabbat morning liturgy for those who are currently less comfortable with Hebrew. This allows all parents to still follow along, participate in the service, and serve as a role model for their children. Please note that we have many ongoing adult education opportunities at the Jacksonville Jewish Center. You may even want to consider being a part of our Adult B’nei Mitzvah class if you never had a formal celebration of your Bar/Bat Mitzvah. This can be quite meaningful: parent and child preparing for their B’nei Mitzvah together.. Additionally, the clergy is always available to answer any questions you may have to lead to a more meaningful Shabbat experience.

Tallit and Tefillin Policy:

All boys must own their own tallit and their own pair of kosher tefillin in preparation for Bar Mitzvah.  Fathers, elder brothers and other living relatives may not donate their tefillin to the Bar Mitzvah in lieu of obtaining the child his own pair.  You may purchase tallit and tefillin through the JJC Sisterhood Gift Shop.

Girls are not required to own either tallit or tefillin, but are encouraged to consider taking on these ritual obligations.  If they choose to do so, however, they must understand the importance of consistency in assuming the responsibility of tallit and/or tefillin.  Should a girl choose to wear a tallit at her Bat Mitzvah, for example, she becomes subject to the same obligation as her male counterpart, i.e., the necessity of wearing a tallit at services thereafter.

We encourage parents who own tefillin to teach their children how to put them on.  It is a wonderful opportunity for bonding and learning.  For those who have not experienced the spiritual dimension of this mitzvah, the celebration of a child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah is a particularly meaningful time to embrace this precept.  Should you need a hand, any of our clergy will be more than happy to assist with showing you how put on tefillin.  A video about tefillin produced by the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs entitled The Ties that Bind is avaliable for borrowing from the synagogue.  In addition, the annual World Wide Wrap sponsored each winter by the Men’s Club offers another venue for learning about this important mitzvah.

Financial Policy:

Preparation for and celebration of a Bar/Bat Mitzvah take place within the context of membership in the synagogue.  To receive a date, commence or continue Bar/Bat Mitzvah training, and celebrate the event itself require families to remain members in good standing of the Jacksonville Jewish Center.

The synagogue is sensitive to families undergoing financial hardship, and is committed to handle such cases with tact, understanding and confidentiality.  It remains the responsibility of families, however, to apprise the Center’s Executive Director should it anticipate difficulties meeting its financial commitments to the congregation.  

When families are in significant arrears, do not communicate with the synagogue about their financial difficulties, or fail to respond to the synagogue’s overtures about the creation of a viable payment plan, the Center reserves the right to suspend the Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation process and/or place a hold on a Bar/Bat Mitzvah date.

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