B'nei Mitzvah Process for Brandeis Hillel Day School Families

We are proud to count many BHDS students as members of our congregation. We recognize that the BHDS curriculum overlaps with much of the material taught here at Congregation Emanu-El. At the same time, we want give our BHDS students the opportunity to make connections with their Emanu-El peers and to become acquainted with our community as they prepare for their b’nei mitzvah celebrations. Therefore, the following policy is promulgated by the Youth and Family Education Program:

All families hoping to hold a bar or bat mitzvah at Congregation Emanu-El must be members in good standing for at least two years prior to the b’nei mitzvah. Around each child’s 11th birthday, all families are contacted and asked to meet and reserve a b’nei mitzvah date. This cannot happen if the family is not a member of the congregation. Therefore we require BHDS students hoping to celebrate their b’nei mitzvah at Emanu-El in the 7th grade to be members of the congregation by the beginning of 6th grade.

Beginning in the 6th grade, we ask all BHDS students to fully enroll in our 6th Grade program. 

1.     Quarterly Shabbaton Retreat Weekends - The foundation of the 6thgrade program will be four shabbaton retreat weekends at Camp Newman in Santa Rosa.  The weekends will take place on:

    • Sept 19-21
    • Feb 6-8
    • March 27-29
    • *make up weekend Jan 16-19, this is a Camp Newman run weekend.

    Each weekend will run from Friday afternoon until Sunday early afternoon.  All transportation and meals will be provided except for the drive home on March 29, families are required to join the students from 9-12pm.  All students must attend at least three full weekends in order to be eligible for Bar or Bat Mitzvah.

    The goal of the program is bring all of our 6th graders together to create one community as they enter into the B’nei Mitzvah process.  Each weekend will give us the opportunity to learn, pray, meet and explore the beautiful surroundings together.  Please see the sample itinerary below.

    2.      Monthly Shabbat Exchange - As our students and families prepare for B’nei Mitzvah, it is crucial that they understand Jewish prayer so that they will be able to act as shichei tzibur – leaders of worship in the synagogue.  Shabbat Exchange “exchanges” Saturdays for tradition Sunday School.  Each month, our students and at least one parent/guardian learn about the liturgy with members of our clergy team, from 9:15-10:15am.  Our families are then encouraged to attend our 10:30am Shabbat Morning service, so they may become comfortable with our style of worship here at Emanu-El.

    3.      Weekly Weekday Hebrew - By the end of the 6th grade, we expect all students to be proficient in leading the prayers of Barchu, Shema, Veahavta, Avot, Gevurot, Friday evening and Shabbat morning Kiddush and the Torah and Haftarah blessings. Around one year before b’nei mitzvah, our students are invited to participate in the eight-week Brachot Ulpan class, which reviews the B’nei Mitzvah prayers and blessings. If you feel as though your child is proficient in these prayers, please contact our Student Services Coordinator, Flora Kupferman at 415-751-2541 x304 to schedule an assessment regarding testing out of the Weekday Torah and/or Brachot Ulpan programs. Otherwise, please register for Weekday Hebrew, offered at various times and locations throughout the week.

    In all, we look forward to welcoming your family to the Emanu-El community through the bnai mitzvah process. Post b'nei mitzvah, we invite our 8th-12th grade students to continue with our popular Emanu-El Fellowship Program for teens. 8th grade students are also invited to participate in our madrichim teacher training program and to serve as teen teachers in the Youth and Family Education Program from 9th-12th grade. By the time our students reach confirmation, we hope that they will have built friendships and enduring relationships which will last far beyond childhood and adolescence. Feel free to contact me or our Director of Youth Education, Heather Erez at your convenience.


    Rabbi Carla Fenves

    Sample Shabbat Weekend Schedule

    Arrive around 5pm
    Tefilah 6pm
    Dinner 7pm
    Program slot 1 8pm

    Yoga/mifkad boker
    Program slot 2
    Activities (pool, hike, climbing tower, zipline, etc)
    Program slot 3
    Program slot 4

    Yoga/mifkad boker
    Program slot 5
    Pack and go home


© 2015 Congregation Emanu-El 2 Lake Street, San Francisco, CA 94118
Phone: (415) 751-2535
Fax: (415) 751-2511