The Basics

Our Rabbis, Education Team, Music Director, Inclusion Specialist and teachers are committed to helping all our students find the best way to prepare for becoming B’nai Mitzvah.

Learning Requirements

Limudim – our Children’s Learning Program – begins at Pre-K, and we encourage you to start your children as early as you can for the sake of the full integration into community, the strong sense of identity and the most comprehensive learning. Participation in Limudim is a requirement of our B’nai Mitzvah program. Please contact Rebecca Berger to learn more about our programs, including our monthly Community Learning Program for students at Jewish Day Schools. Students not attending Jewish day school need to be enrolled in Limudim full time (Saturdays and Tuesdays) during their 6th grade and 7th grade years and commit to attending Limudim through the end of their 7th grade academic school year.

Choosing A Date

In the fall of 4th grade, parents/guardians will receive an application with available dates for B’nai Mitzvah. Parents of older 3rd grade students will receive the application as well. Families will choose three potential dates after the student’s 13th birthday on either the Hebrew or Gregorian calendar. Click here to find your child’s Hebrew birthday and if you are interested in exploring parashah (Torah portion) options.

Applications submitted by the deadline will receive a confirmed B’nai Mitzvah date soon after; applications submitted after the deadline will be given dates in the order they were received.

Click here for our Date Request Form

Learning Torah and Haftarah

Students typically begin working with individual tutors approximately 12 months before their B’nai Mitzvah to learn how to chant their Torah and Haftarah portions and all the blessings associated with the Torah service. As tutors get to know the student, they set a learning goal that is challenging yet realistic. Many of our students choose to learn all 7 aliyot and their Haftarah, while other students read fewer. These decisions will be made in conversation with the tutor, parent(s), and the student, with input from our Music Director.

Finding a Tutor

IKAR has a list of approved tutors, so parents must speak with the Music Director BEFORE beginning tutoring. Our B’nai Mitzvah Assistant will connect you around 14 months before the Bat/Bar/B’nai Mitzvah but please reach out if you would like your child to start their learning sooner.

Our Music Director will suggest a tutor based on conversations with you and our education team. Tutors are hired at the family’s expense, and rates range from $100-$150 per hour. As with all aspects of participation at IKAR, please be in touch if you are concerned about financial constraints impacting the tutoring process. If there is a family member with whom you would like your child to study, please speak with our Music Director so he can speak with them to ensure that they are able to meet the needs and expectations of B’nai Mitzvah preparation at IKAR.

Your child will check in with the Music Director three months and one month before the B’nai Mitzvah to monitor progress.  During the week prior to the service, you will meet to review the choreography of the service.

Writing a D’var Torah

To Our Students: Your Torah portion, or parsha, is part of the conversation the Jewish people have been having with each other for a few thousand years. You are a 12-year-old in Los Angeles, but you may soon be agreeing with an elder who lived in Spain at the time Columbus set sail or disagreeing with a Rabbi who lived in Minsk or Morocco just down the road from a great‐great‐great‐grandmother or…who knows!

As you take your place in this lively and crowded conversation your team will be our rabbis, your parents, and the text itself. Beginning 4-5 months before the big day, they will help you prepare a D’var Torah, approximately 5 minutes in length (800 words), with your voice and your thoughts on the parsha.

You can get started exploring your parsha here.

Engaging in Meaningful Tzedek/Justice Work

“Every Jew, and the individual Jew, can survive only through intimate attachment to involvement in the community.” (Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Insecurity of Freedom)

As Jews, we are committed to using our gifts and resources to bring healing, justice, and love to the world. The calls to gemilut hasadim (love), tzedek (justice) and mishpat (righteousness) are central to our understanding of what it means to be a Jew and a human being alive today. That’s why the tzedek project is a critical part of the B’nai Mitzvah experience.

Our tzedek work is made up of individual and communal commitments.

  • Our Limudim students will work together on a communal Tzedek project during their Kitah Zayin (7th grade) year. They delve deeply into Jewish teachings around different issues of justice and develop a project with classmates which they work on during Limudim time.
  • In addition to their communal project, all students will identify an area of personal interest and find an organization working to make change in that area. The student will then determine one way to support that organization, such as through fundraising, direct support, education, etc.

Students who do not attend Tuesday Limudim will engage in a more robust individual Tzedek project of at least 10 hours over the course of the year leading to the Bar/Bat/B’nai Mitzvah.

Timeline and Estimated Costs

Click here for the B’nai Mitzvah Timeline and estimated costs.

Contact Us

Ivy Sears, B’nai Mitzvah Assistant ([email protected])

Rabbi Deborah Silver, Associate Rabbi ([email protected])

Rebecca Berger, Senior Director of Education ([email protected])

Ilyse Pallenberg, Director of Events and Production ([email protected])

If a student has a special consideration that affects his/her/their ability to learn, please be in touch with the Associate Rabbi at any time so that we can discuss ways of attaining our shared goals for your child.