Muswell Hill Synagogue
Emor 17/18 May 8.35pm 9.49pm

Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah Policy

We are a growing community and are delighted that we are having more smichot than ever. In most cases people are allocated the date they want for their child’s bar or bat mitzvah and it is rare to have more than one simcha falling on the same weekend. The basic principle of this policy however, is to ensure that all children are allocated places for their Bar or Bat Mitzvah in the fairest way possible.

How are dates allocated?

  1. According to the US bye laws, a boy has the obligation of reading Maftir and Haftarah on the first Shabbat after his 13th Hebrew birthday and a girl celebrates her Bat Mitzvah on the first Shabbat after her 12th Hebrew birthday.
  2. If two Simchas fall on the same Shabbat, priority will be given to the family who have had the longest standing membership at Muswell Hill Synagogue. The family who do not receive priority consideration under this condition will be given the next available Shabbat not taken by a Bar or Bat Mitzvah under [1] above.
  3. Where more than one family has not received the first Shabbat after the daughter’s or son’s 12th or 13th birthdays (under the above clauses), families will be given the next available Shabbat following their 12th or 13th birthdays following the same criteria as above (i.e those with longest standing membership are offered the first date available)
  4. In the event that a clash of dates gives rise to a delay of more than six weeks from the original date, the Honorary Officers will seek to resolve the matter to the mutual satisfaction of the families concerned. Options available include two Bar Mitzvot or a Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah taking place on the same Shabbat morning.
  5. If the next Shabbat after a boy or girl’s Hebrew birthday is a Yom Tov or the Yom Tov will fall on the Sunday, the child will move to the next available date.
  6. Should a family be given a date under the above clauses, but the date given is not acceptable to them, alternative dates can be discussed, and any Shabbat still available after those allocated to families given dates under clauses 1- 4 can be offered. These alternative available dates may be discussed, in the first instance, with the Shul Administrator. It should be stressed that, in such circumstances, clauses 1-3 above will not be applied and there will be no priority given to longer standing members. If no suitable resolution is found then clause 4 above will apply.
  7. Once a date has been agreed and confirmed it will be entered in the synagogue diary and a letter of confirmation will be issued.
  8. Parents are advised not to commit themselves to catering or other arrangements until they have received a written letter of confirmation of the date.
  9. No Bar or Bat Mitzvah will be held on a Shabbat falling between Pesach and Lag B’Omer nor during the three weeks between Shiv’ah Asar b’Tammuz (the Fast of Tammuz) and Tisha B’Av (the Fast of Av) unless the family guarantees that no celebration involving music and/or dancing will take place.
  10. At least one of the child’s parents or guardians must be a member of Muswell Hill Synagogue both at the date of application and at the date of Bar/Bat Mitzvah.

What is the pathway for Bar/Bat Mitzvah families?

  1. Parent/s of Bar or Bat Mitzvah children will be invited to meet with the Rabbi approximately two years prior to the Bar or Bat Mitzvah.
  2. At the meeting with the Rabbi, the provisional dates will be discussed and options made clear if the family does want to accept the date made available to them.
  3. For Barmitzvah boys, The Rabbi will advise on a teacher for Leyning/Haftara. For Bat Mitzvah, options available will be discussed, including Shabbat morning Dvar Torah/Women’s service on Shabbat/Havdala ceremony on Saturday night/Sunday ceremony. For Bat Mitzvah the Rabbi will advise on teachers.
  4. It is recommended that all Bar/Bat Mitzvah children enter the communities Bar/Bat Mitzvah programme- currently run by ORT
  5. It is recommended that families and the Bar/Bat Mitzvah child should attend services in the year running up to their simcha. Boys are always very welcome to come to the morning minyan to get familiar with laying tefillin.
  6. Two months before the simcha, the family will be advised who to contact to arrange a Kiddish and a meeting will be arranged with the Rabbi for one month before the simcha. Families should be sent the guidance on arranging a Kiddush and note the kashrut and food policies in terms of what and how much to buy.
  7. One month before the simcha, Rabbi will talk through the order of the service, discuss with the family when they will bless their child; go over other details such as sweet throwing and what close family will be in Shul so they can be welcomed and where family would sit on the day.
  8. The Shul Administrator will contact family to put them in touch with the Wardens in order to arrange call ups on the day.