Today is March 31, 2020 /
By the time you are reading this, you should have your child’s b’nai mitzvah date verified with the rabbi or the director of education. Your child should have been assigned the parashah (Torah portion) that they will read from at their b’nai mitzvah. This parashah is the same reading from the Torah that takes place in every synagogue in the world on that Shabbat. As time continues, your child will become more and more familiar with what that parashah is about, as they will eventually write a D’var Torah (“word of Torah,” or sermon) to teach the community on their special day. How much they will read, and how that will look on the day, will all take form over the next year.
Your child either has been or will be assigned a tutor shortly after the first meeting. This might be a Dartmouth Student, a teacher from the school, or an adult from our community. Tutoring should begin one year prior to the Bar or Bat Mitzvah date. Once you have your tutor’s name, we suggest you make arrangements immediately to begin a schedule of meetings. Meeting once a week is preferred to help your child with the process of learning without the feeling of being rushed. The suggested rate for a tutor from Dartmouth is $25 per hour and $30 for experienced tutors. That is paid directly to the tutor, and the UVJC does not participate in any of those proceeds.
Your family must be members in good standing within the Kol Ha’Emek community. This includes paying tuition for Hebrew school. After their simcha, students may switch to Jew Crew for remainder of the year with no additional cost. If you need to make contact with our treasurer for any reason, his contact information is:
There is no fee charged by the rabbi, nor for any services performed by the director of education during this time. However, there are extra costs associated with the b’nai mitzvah concerning the building maintenance and many other details that will be handled for you. It is customary to make a donation to the UVJC in honor of the bar or bat mitzvah that minimally is $375.
We understand that there are many financial demands on families, and we will work with you to help ease this within our community, but we cannot do so if you don’t express concerns that you might have. Let us help in making the focus of this day not a financial one.
Your child’s “blue book” will be ordered within the next week, which will contain cantillation information they will use during learning the Maftir (their Torah reading) as well as the Haftarah (Prophetic readings) both of which are chanted. Their blue book will become a very useful tool during the tutoring process.
You have also received a calendar of the other students in your son or daughter’s class, so you may see the dates of their Bar or Bat Mitzvah, to make plans to attend, or to have a class list in the event that you wish to plan a party that could involve the members of the class.
You will have 4 group parent meetings during this year before the Bar or Bat Mitzvah. It is important to attend these as new information is discussed at each meeting. We also ask that you and your child attend, at minimum, five Shabbat morning services in the course of that year, and three b’nai mitzvah celebrations as well. This will give them evidence of practical application of what they are learning in school and will make the actual bar or bat mitzvah service familiar to them, easing some of the anxiety that is normal to experience. The more they know, the less nervous they will be.
Your child will choose their b’nai mitzvah project that can be finished in the year that they prepare for their b’nai mitzvah service. We will talk about ideas for these projects in the parent meetings, but a “project bank” has also been developed by our office. This project bank includes the needs in the community that your child could participate in. An email attachment of this list will be sent to you upon your request.
Your child’s progress will be monitored by the Director who will check in with your tutor regularly up until 8 weeks before the Bar or Bat Mitzvah date, at which time your child will meet with Rabbi once a week for a private tutoring/review time. These lessons will take place in the sanctuary so that your child will begin to experience what they sound like in that larger space, and again, will help ease some of the anxiety that can be present. Being familiar with the process and experiencing it in the environment we offer at the UVJC will make everything much more enjoyable for you and your child.
You should begin the process of deciding who you will invite to participate in reading the blessings before the Torah, opening the ark, and lifting and tying the Torah. In the parent meetings, we will discuss who is eligible to receive these honors. The list of honors should be sent to the director at least 2 weeks before the Bar or Bat Mitzvah.
The Sanctuary can seat 200 people with the dividing wall open. It can seat 65 with the wall closed. When determining if you want the wall open or closed, please note that in addition to those who you expect at the service, there will also be 25 community members who regularly attend Shabbat morning. The family should inform Claudia Palmer, Rabbi’s assistant, about the desired position of the wall. Claudia also oversees table and chair numbers needed if a kiddush luncheon is supplied by the family. All facility questions and planning should be addressed to Claudia by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (603) 646-0410 at least one month before the bar or bat mitzvah service.
The Roth Center parking lot can hold 30 cars. Your guests may not park on Occom Ridge, but they can park on Webster Ave or at the Dartmouth lot on Maynard St.
No photography is allowed in the sanctuary on Shabbat. Rabbi is available for photos the day before the ceremony. In special circumstances of illness, videotaping has been approved in the past. If you anticipate a need for this, please contact the rabbi directly.
It’s customary for families to provide flowers to beautify the sanctuary space. Instead of flowers, you may wish to consider a bimah basket, a beautiful arrangement of food that can be donated afterwards–an act not only of beautifying the mitzvah but also of tzedakah. Contact Carolyn Gordon at Carolyn.S.Gordon@Dartmouth.edu for more information on bimah baskets.
Some Kippot and Tallitsim are available at the Roth Center. Many families order kippot online with imprinted names for a remembrance of the day.
Please see the separate explanation of food policies and the Roth Center kitchen use. The caterers below will not use the Roth Center kitchen, but they are familiar with our policies and understand where their food can be placed, respecting the level of kashrut maintained in the building as well. We will not endorse or refer to any specific caterer, but do know that the following companies have worked with the Roth Center in the past.
Coventry Catering Lynn or Daniel Caple 603.252.5605
Maple Street Catering 802.296.2400
Because there is no janitorial staff on Saturday, we ask that you make arrangements to clean up after the ceremony or kiddush if you provide a luncheon. All food should be removed and the tablecloths should be thrown away. Tables and chairs will be stored by Dartmouth the following day. All siddurim and chumashim should be returned to the shelves.