B. Mitzvah Program | ב מצוה

When a young person reaches the age of 13, they are expected to assume the religious responsibilities of an adult in the Jewish community. At Congregation Emanu-El, this is marked by leading a Shabbat morning service and being called to the Torah during their thirteenth year. Families also have an option to participate in an inter-generational trip to Israel and to celebrate their teen becoming B. Mitzvah during that trip. We are happy to create individual B. Mitzvah experiences for students with special needs. Please contact our Director of Youth and Family Education, Ariana Estoque, for more information.

Students prepare for B. Mitzvah by developing skills to lead the congregation in parts of the Shabbat morning service, by learning to chant from the weekly Torah and Haftarah portions and by creating a D’var Torah, an individual interpretation of the weekly reading.

In order to become B. Mitzvah, a student must be enrolled in our Youth and Family Education Program for at least two years prior to the event. Families must be members of the congregation and students must participate in the Youth and Family Education program as well as B. Mitzvah preparation classes (Brandeis students need to register by the 6th grade).

If you have questions regarding the timeline of the B. Mitzvah journey after a date has been selected, please contact the B. Mitzvah Coordinator, David Wolk.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is it necessary to be a member of Congregation Emanu-El for our child to become B. Mitzvah? 
Yes. Your family does need to have a current membership for your child to become B. Mitzvah.

Other than being members of the congregation, what are the other requirements?
Along with being members of the congregation, students do need to be enrolled and stay active in our Youth and Family Education (YFE) program. The only exception is if your child attends Brandeis Day School. Our Brandeis students join YFE in the 6th grade.

Is there a fee to be part of the B. Mitzvah program?
Unlike most other congregations around the country, we do not charge a B. Mitzvah fee. All of the additional costs of B. Mitzvah preparation are spreadout over the 4th – 7th grade years of tuition. 

What is the timeline of preparation?
Our B. Mitzvah program begins three years before the 13th birthday when families are assigned their dates. Within the year of their B. Mitzvah, our students attend an 8-week blessings class, work with a Hebrew reading coach for 8 weeks, have weekly chanting lessons for 6 months, and work with their guide rabbi once a month for 6 months.

How long is a B. Mitzvah service, and when does it start?*
Our B. Mitzvah services generally last an hour and a half on Saturday mornings.

How do we get a date for our child’s B. Mitzvah?
Your family will be invited to our date-setting meeting three years before your child’s 13th birthday. At this meeting, you will receive a form that has available dates to select from.

Which rabbi and cantor will officiate at our service?*
We’re glad you asked! Your cantor will depend on which sanctuary you choose to have your child’s B. Mitzvah. If you choose the Main Sanctuary, your family will work with Cantor Arik Luck, and if you choose the Martin Meyer Sanctuary, your family will work with Cantor Marsha Attie. Your rabbi will be assigned just about one year in advance of the B. Mitzvah.

In which sanctuary will our child become B. Mitzvah?*
Great question! You will receive a date request form with the available dates for your child’s cohort. You will have the option to select dates in either sanctuary.

Do all services take place at Congregation Emanu-El, or can we have a service outside or somewhere else?
All services with our clergy will be held at Congregation Emanu-El, we do not officiate B. Mitzvah ceremonies offsite. However, if you/your child would like to have their B. Mitzvah ceremony in Israel, we do allow for that on our Family Israel trip. 

Some of our family members aren’t Jewish. Does that affect anything?
This is another great question. For family members that are not Jewish, the only limitation is which blessings they are and are not able to say on the bimah. We truly believe the entire family, regardless of religious origin, is invaluable in the B. Mitzvah process. We want the entire immediate family to participate. 

* This information is true for 2026 forward. We will be under construction from 2023-2025 and will only have the Main Sanctuary available. Our cantors will be alternating weekends and there will be back-to-back services at 9:00 am and 11:15 am.