Bar Mitzvah ("Bar" is the Aramaic equivalent of the Hebrew word "Ben", meaning "son") and Bat Mitzvah ("Bat" is the Hebrew word for "daughter"), are the terms which refer to the religious status of emerging teens, who have reached the age of personal responsibility according to ancient rabbinic sources. At thirteen years of age (some authorities sanction age twelve for girls) the individual is considered ready to fulfill the obligations ("Mitzvote") proscribed in the Torah, and may participate in all of the ritual activities of their community. One of the first known scholars to use the term "Bar Mitzvah" in the way it is understood today was Mordecai ben Hillel, a 13th century German rabbi. The most explicit recognition of thirteen as the age when a child was recognized as a fully responsible member of the community for religious purposes, is the statement found in the "Ethics of the Fathers" (Pirkay Avote 5:21): "At age thirteen one becomes subject to the commandments".
In about the 2nd or 3rd century C.E. Jewish girls at age twelve were given the legal sanction for the performance of biblical and rabbinic rituals that were not restricted to specific time periods. However the first formal Bat Mitzvah ceremony on record did not occur until March 18, 1922, at the Society for the Advancement of Judaism synagogue in New York City. Judith Kaplan, the daughter of Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, founder of the Reconstructionist movement, celebrated her Bat Mitzvah at a Sabbath morning service by publicly reciting the Torah blessings, chanting a portion of the weekly reading from a printed Bible, and offering a translation of the selection to the congregation.
Cantor Neil Berris strongly advocates and supports affiliation with a family's local synagogue or temple whenever possible. Jewish communities have always maintained the sanctity of our religious institutions for worship, education, and social action. Please contact Cantor Berris personally (631-553-2330) if you need assistance in locating a synagogue or Jewish Community Center in your area.
Cantor Neil Berris is pleased to offer Bar and Bat Mitzvah students the convenience and efficiency of innovative Bar and Bat Mitzvah preparation through online video tutoring using Zoom and FaceTime. No longer do families have to arrange their personal, work, and recreational schedules to make frequent trips to a synagogue for religious school classes or for individual lessons. Consider these important advantages when beginning to plan for your son or daughter's milestone celebration:
An effective alternative to carpools, or class/lesson schedules that require significant adjustments to your weekly routines - Online Video Tutoring, direct to your home or business allows Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation to be accomplished in a comfortable and focused learning environment. Cantor Berris will work with your family to plan the most appropriate course of study relevant to your Jewish background and interests. "Group" study sessions can and should involve parents and siblings to create better understanding and participation during your child's religious education. Cantor Berris has developed unique, personalized study guides accompanied by digital voice memos or professionally recorded compact discs to facilitate learning at every level of proficiency. Hebrew prayers and biblical selections are presented with precise clarity and are accompanied by full phonetic transliterations of the texts. CD contents may be copied to your family's computer hard drive or your child's iPod, iPhone, iPad, or other MP3 player if you wish. Audio/Video recordings may also be made directly to your child's smartphone (iPhone or similar devices).
Cantor Berris will officiate personally at your child's Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration service, which may take place at any location of your choosing: home/backyard, favorite park or beach setting, catering hall, hotel ballroom or meeting space. A full size, ritually proper Torah scroll and English/Hebrew prayer booklets are provided (these may be personalized with your son or daughter's photo and your personal greeting if you would like your guests to keep them as a gift). Services last approximately one hour, and are most frequently arranged on Friday evening, Saturday/Sunday mornings, or in conjunction with the beautiful and dramatic "Havdalah" ceremony which concludes the Jewish Sabbath on Saturday evening. You may also consider having your family's celebration service on a Monday legal holiday, when the convenience of a longer weekend and a day off from school and work may be an attractive alternative... it's your "Simcha" (celebration) - it's your choice!
All Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebration services include the following elements: Welcoming family and guests, the chanting of prayers, and the recitation of appropriate English readings by the Bar/Bat Mitzvah child, family members, and Cantor Berris. The Torah Service, when the celebrant and designated relatives are honored and called to the Torah to recite the special blessings ("Aliyah"); D'var Torah - the Bar/Bat Mitzvah child's speech, presentation of the Certificate of Completion and gift, and the parents' blessing; closing hymns, readings, and on Saturday evening, the beautiful "Havdalah" ceremony.
Please contact Cantor Berris to discuss your vision and ideas for the most comprehensive, participatory, and meaningful Bar or Bat Mitzvah preparation and celebration experience!