B'nei Mitzvah

The Meaning

Every person journeys from day to day, seeking out meaning and connection, hopefully within community. Shaaray Tefila celebrates and supports our families’ decision to lead their children on a Jewish path, welcoming them into a life of Torah from the moment they enter our gates.

In his last speech to the children of Israel, Moses said, “May my teaching drip as the rain, My words flow as the dew, Like showers on young growth, Like droplets on the grass. (Deuteronomy 32:2).” Our goal at Temple Shaaray Tefila is to offer Torah as water to soil, nourishing the minds and souls of our community’s children. Like seeds, they will sprout and flourish in their own time, in their own way, and we will always do our best to support their unique perspectives and individual needs as they learn, question and live the teachings of Torah.

At the age of thirteen, our children have the opportunity to become Bar or Bat Mitzvah. With a strong foundation of Jewish education and emerging maturity, they will explore the lush garden that is the combined tradition of Torah throughout the generations, and consider their own role in adding to its beauty. They will know the excitement of exploring the mysteries of texts both ancient and modern, protecting the world we inhabit through Tikkun Olam, upholding our ethical principles by treating ourselves and others with dignity, and fulfilling the prophetic call to strive for justice and peace.

Becoming bar or bat mitzvah is not the end of a the journey, rather it is a stage of new growth. In coming to this moment, our students are declaring that, rooted in their heritage, they are ready to extend their branches in ways they never have before. As they emerge into young adulthood, we are blessed to be their teachers and their students.

The process of developing Jewish identity begins long before Jews become B'nei Mitzvah and continues for a lifetime. Temple Shaaray Tefila appreciates that you share this value of L’dor vador, “generation to generation,” and is eager to support you in launching your child on this journey.

The Preparation

Religious School

Engaging with peers in a learning community is fundamental for children to develop their individual and communal Jewish identities, before and following the moment of becoming B'nei Mitzvah.


In addition to their Hebrew studies in religious school, students begin half hour weekly tutoring sessions during the year before they become B'nei Mitzvah. With the guidance of their tutors, students will build on their Hebrew reading skills developed in Religious School, learn Torah trope, learn and review prayers, and prepare their Torah and Haftarah portions. The cantor oversees each child’s progress.

Social Justice

The Mitzvah Project is a significant step toward becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. The Mitzvah Project is centered on Gemilut Chasadim - acts of loving-kindness. It is based on hours of volunteering, not a monetary tzedakah donation to a charity. We aim for students and families to build a close relationship with certain service organizations, rather than volunteer with multiple agencies.

Meetings with Clergy

Our clergy play an active role in preparing the students and developing meaningful connections with them and their families, meeting with them before and following the service when they become B'nei Mitzvah. The relationships they build with each child are lifelong.


Check out our B'NEI MITZVAH GUIDE »

Looking to complete the B'nei Mitzvah Honors form for your family? FILL OUT THE FORM »

Still have questions? Please do not hesitate to reach out to Rachel Kaplan, B'nei Mitzvah Coordinator, via phone at 212-328-9405 or email at [email protected]. She is more than happy to address any questions or concerns you may have.