The Celebration

After countless hours and months of preparation, it’s finally here. Your child is becoming a Bat/Bar/B’nai Mitzvah. There are a few more pieces to put in place.

Immersing in the Mikvah

In Jewish life, immersing in the mikvah (ritual bath) marks moments of transition large and small. The mikvah ceremony takes place sometime during the month prior to Bar/Bat/B’nai Mitzvah. Every student will participate in this ritual and for some students it will be the final stage in conversion, an opportunity to affirm halakhically (legally) their Jewish identity. Please reach out to Rabbi Deborah Silver if your child’s immersion is part of a conversion process.

We coordinate with American Jewish University (15600 Mulholland Drive; [email protected]) to schedule an appointment for the weeks before your child’s celebration. The wonderful people at the mikvah will share everything you need to know, including what to bring and payment arrangements for the mikvah fee ($125 for 1 hour/$50 for 30 minutes).

Our rabbis will walk through the whole process. Your child’s job at the mikvah is very simple; dunk under the water and recite two blessings and Shema. Don’t worry, the water is warm. We strongly urge you to preserve the experience by leaving plenty of time to get to the mikvah, have after‐school snacks available and take some restorative breaths.

Shabbat Service Booklet

Your guests and our community members will learn about your child, their hopes and dreams, concerns about the world, and your family’s honors and blessings in the B’nai Mitzvah booklet. One month before your child’s celebration, the B’nai Mitzvah Assistant will email the booklet questions to you. Help your child take their time and give people an idea of who they really are! Completed booklets must be returned to the office two weeks before the Bat/Bar/B’nai Mitzvah. We will share the booklets with our community during the service, with a digital copy for virtual guests.

Click here for the booklet questions.

Honors for Family and Friends

Your family and friends will participate actively in the Shabbat morning service. The following honors are available but do not all need to be distributed:

Please click here to access the form.

  • Three aliyot, not including the Bat/Bar/B’nai Mitzvah student’s aliyah (recitation of the blessing over the reading of the Torah)
  • Can be given to an individual or a group. At least one person in a group aliyah must be a Jewish adult (age 13+)
  • Typically one aliyah is given to the parent(s)/guardian(s)
  • Opening of the Ark before and after the Torah service – at least one Jewish adult (age 13+)
  • Parent/Guardian Blessing – Parents can offer either the traditional words of the Priestly Blessing or a three-sentence interpretation of the blessing. (Worksheet).
  • Tallit Holders during the Parent Blessing – minimum of 4 people
  • Chair Lifters – minimum of 4 people
Hosting Shabbat Lunch

B’nai Mitzvah at IKAR are integrated parts of our service and community life. As such, our practice is for B’nai Mitzvah families to host lunch for the community and your guests as part of your celebrations.

Families most often work with our in-house caterer, Del Cielo Catering. Lunch for our community plus 50 guests ranges from $2,200 for a bagel lunch to $4,000 for a more customized menu, with options to enhance both, such as with lox, special salads, etc.

We recognize that, for some families, paying for their guests plus the 200 community members may be a financial burden. Therefore, families who use our in-house caterer have the option to deduct up to $1,500 from their total bill. We are, of course, grateful to those who are able to include that $1,500 in their total, as this helps cover our expenses for the day and keep the bagels flowing all year long.

Our Director of Events will reach out approximately 6 months before B’nai Mitzvah, or you can reach out to [email protected]

We have tables, chairs, and linens for approximately 300 people as well. Click here for information about day-of needs, like tables, chairs, optional rentals, kippots, etc.

Kippot

Some families choose to order special kippot for the Bat/Bar/B’nai Mitzvah service. It’s an opportunity to see a sea of your child’s favorite color or style on guests and community members’ heads. Options include everything from suede or knit to recycled cans or seed bombs. We recommend ordering enough kippot for your guests plus 50 for the community. Previous B’nai Mitzvah families recommend ordering kippots from: YarmulkaKlipped, or Mensch Kippah.

Party Jewishly, Party Justly

We ask you to keep Jewish values central as you prepare for the Bar/Bat/B’nai Mitzvah simhah (celebration).

Inclusion + Class Gift
Becoming a Bat/Bar/B’nai Mitzvah is also about being part of a community. If you are having an event outside of services, please invite the whole class. As part of your Limudim tuition, you will be part of a class gift fund. Each student will receive a gift from their classmates, which they will choose together in 6th grade.

Tzedakah
Please think about how your simhah can contribute to making life more kind and more just for others.

There are many wonderful organizations (including IKAR) that support the sacred work of building and nurturing community and restoring dignity to all human beings. This is a great opportunity to work with your child to identify tzedakah priorities and make an offering in honor of the student’s achievement.

Many students request that their families and friends make donations to specific funds in lieu of gifts and we encourage our young adults to donate a portion of the money that they receive as gifts.

In addition to whichever organization you choose to contribute to, please also consider a gift of 3% of the cost of your child’s Bar/Bat/B’nai Mitzvah celebration to MAZON (www.mazon.org) to fight hunger in the United States.

Bal Tash’hit
Put simply, it means to live without being wasteful. Make this celebration a reflection of the kind of Jew and human being you want to be in the world. Please think about how your event can rest lightly on our earth.

You can also work with different organizations on creative justice-oriented centerpieces. For example, Fromsoil2soul curates locally grown, non-GMO plant-based centerpieces which are planted to support food sovereignty efforts. SOVA creates centerpieces made up of food items, which can then be donated to those who are food insecure.