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B'Nei Mitzvah 

These guidelines have been written by the synagogue to assist parents in all aspects of planning a Bar mitzvah or Bat mitzvah for their child.

The First Step

Bar/Bat Mitzvah can only normally take place at SHEMA if the family are members of the shul.


If you would like to hold a Bar/Bar Mitzvah at SHEMA, contact should be made as soon as possible with the synagogue.  Please email us here.

SHEMA’s Bnei mitzvah co-coordinator will contact the parents with a confirmation of the date and to offer any help that may be needed. The co-coordinator is available at any time prior to the Bar/Bat mitzvah to answer questions.


It is customary for a Bat Mitzvah to be held on the Shabbat after your daughter’s 12th Hebrew birthday and a Bar Mitzvah to take place on the Shabbat after your son’s 13th Hebrew birthday.  At this point they are considered adult and are counted in a minyan

Although this date is the usual custom, a child can have their Bar/Bat Mitzvah anytime after these dates.  Girls may choose to have their Bat Mitzvah on their 13th Hebrew Birthday, particularly if they are born in September / October as at 12 this can be a stressful time starting secondary school.  

Additionally, birthdates may coincide with fast days, the Omer, or other times that are unsuitable for personal reasons.

Please ask if you are unsure.

What does a Bar /Bat Mitzvah do in a Masorti shul?

SHEMA is an egalitarian community and we do not have different expectations for boys and girls.

According to Jewish tradition, you become Bar/Bat mitzvah upon reaching the age of twelve/thirteen years and one day. On reaching this age you are considered an adult and are counted in a minyan, irrespective of what is done in shul. 


If your child is unable to learn the Maftir or Haftarah, we will work with you to ensure your child works within their abilities.  We will help you celebrate this milestone whatever your child is able to do.  We especially encourage children with special needs and will work out a suitable programme with the family.

All B’nei Mitzvah will be presented with a gift from the Community and a certificate.

What if another family have a child who reaches Bar/Bat Mitzvah in the same week?

SHEMA is still a small community and it is rare that this will happen.  However, it is possible for two or more children to reach their Bar/Mitzvah age on the same shabbat.  If both families wanted to have their celebration on the same Shabbat then this would mean that leining / haftarah would be shared by agreement as well as all the other synagogue arrangements.  However, as already mentioned above you can choose to have your Bar/Bat Mitzvah in shul any time after the 12/13th birthday and you may prefer to choose a different Shabbat.


We are able to recommend a number of teachers to you.

Generally, you should approach a teacher 1 year to 18 months before the proposed date, but this can vary from as little as 6 months if Hebrew reading is fluent to up to 2 years if your child cannot read any Hebrew.  If you are unsure it is better to approach a teacher early for an assessment.


Bar/Bat mitzvahs can be held at the shul.

Synagogue attendance

Regular attendance at Saturday morning services is expected in the year running up to the event.  If attendance is not regular, SHEMA will, in the first instance, contact the family and reserve the right not to conduct the ceremony.  Attendance is also required on on all Festivals.

Families are expected to participate in security and Kiddush rotas.


These are the honours given out during the service: being called up to the Torah; opening and closing the ark; reading the prayer for the King, State of Israel etc. You can choose members of your family and close friends to take these honours, although a couple of honours should be left for other members of the community or people commemorating a Yahrzeit.  In a small community, this makes the service very special for the family.

Anim Zemirot

A nice tradition is for Anim Zemirot to be sung by a younger member of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah’s family if there is one.


It is customary for the family to provide a kosher Kiddush for the community. Please liaise with us nearer the time and we will discuss the numbers expected.  We have various options available for the Kiddush so please discuss this with us


SHEMA would be delighted to receive a donation of money or a presentation to the synagogue in honour of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah. 


We are delighted to launch our Joint Havurah/SHEMA B’nei Mitzvah programme, which will be coordinated by Rabbi Oliver and will involve all the Bnei Mitzvah families in both communities working and learning together.


The journey to adulthood is both exciting and testing and it is our intention to infuse the B’nei Mitzvah journey with deep learning, reflection, and preparation. The strength of this programme will embolden our community for years to come.    


B’Nei Mitzvah Focused Learning

What does it mean to join the Jewish people? Our programme will be participant centred. 

We will be asking the big questions of what it means to be a Jew, where we belong, how we behave and what we believe.

Each participant will be given tools to respond to these questions and find their own answers.


The course will consist of six terms, spread out over two years.

Each term will be made up of seven sessions, meeting weekly, learning with Rabbi Oliver.



Terms 1 and 2 Belonging: 

HISTORY ZONE – story of our people, who we are and where we come from? 

LAND ZONE – Our founding story, journeying towards Israel, the Promised Land. 


Term 1 :

22nd  October – 12th December 2023

Course Sessions:

22nd October – Lunch Launch Session with Bnei Mitzvah and Parent(s)

5 x  Monday Evening Sessions to be held at SHEMA Edgware (Dates TBC)

Sunday 10th December 2023 (followed by SHEMA Chanukah Party)


Term 2:

Sunday 28th January 2024 – Sunday 17th March 2024

Course Sessions:

Sunday 28th January 2024 – Lunch Launch

5 x Monday Evening Sessions to be Held at SHEMA Edgware (Dates TBC)

Sunday 17th March 2024, Lunch Session with Parents


Terms 3 & 4 Behaving:

TIKKUN OLAM ZONE – Justice & channelling the dreams of our ancestors and prophets.

RITUAL ZONE – we are what we do, we journey through prayer, shabbat & kashrut.


Term 3

Sunday 12th May – Sunday 7th July 2024

Sunday 12th May – Launch Lunch Session with Families

5 x Monday Evening Sessions (Dates TBC)

Sunday 7th July 2024


Term 4

To commence after High Holy Days 2024 ending around Chanukah time

Structure as before, First Session Launch Lunch, 5x weekly Monday Evening Sessions and final Lunch on the last Sunday of the Term


Terms 5 & 6 Believing:

G-D ZONE – what and who is G-d? How does G-d shape (or not) my Judaism. 

IDEOLOGY ZONE – aside from G-d what are the other beliefs that Jews hold?


Term 5

Commencing January 2025

Structure as before, First Session Launch Lunch, 5x weekly Monday Evening Sessions and final Lunch on the last Sunday of the Term


Term 6

Commencing May 2025

Structure as before, First Session Launch Lunch, 5x weekly Monday Evening Sessions and final Lunch on the last Sunday of the Term



The cost of the course is £708 for the entire two-year programme.  This can be paid Termly (£118 payable by the first week of the term), or monthly (£25 per month for the 2 years).  If there is any concern regarding payments please do let us know.  Any discussions in this regard will be in the strictest confidence.

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