Bar/Bat Mitzvah Requirements
- In order to be eligible to celebrate a Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony with the FJC, a student must be Jewish and his or her parent(s) must maintain a membership in good standing in the congregation. FJC follows the principle of patrilineal descent - if one parent is Jewish, the child is considered Jewish and eligible for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah with the FJC.
- The Bar/Bat Mitzvah student must complete three years of formal Jewish education prior to the ceremony. Families may consult with the rabbi or head of the Religious School for the acceptable criteria for meeting this requirement.
- To be eligible for a Bar Mitzvah a boy must have celebrated his 13th birthday on or before the date of the Bar Mitzvah ceremony. A girl may celebrate her Bat Mitzvah after her 12th birthday. From a social standpoint, it is usually better for girls to wait until close to the 13th birthday.
- Before Bar/Bat Mitzvah training is possible, a reading ability of the Hebrew language is necessary. Reading ability will be ascertained by the rabbi or Religious School teacher. Private tutoring is almost always needed to prepare for the ceremony (see below.)
- Private tutoring sessions are necessary for the majority of students preparing for their Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Private tutoring can be arranged independently or through the rabbi or Religious School head. The rabbi does not normally perform the tutoring but monitors the progress.
- It is recommended that individual Bar/Bat Mitzvah training begin about at least nine months before the ceremony. Sessions should be weekly in order to learn the Torah and Haftarah portions and prayers.
- It is the responsibility of the families to arrange tutoring with the understanding that the time involved in preparation and financial burden will be on the family. Families should establish a fee schedule (rates vary with the experience of the tutor) and understanding of the time and commitment required from the first meeting with the Bar/Bat Mitzvah tutor.
Bar/Bat Mitzvah families are asked to set the date of their service at least one year in advance. Families planning to celebrate their Bar/Bat Mitzvah with the FJC must clear the date with the FJC board of directors (who will check the date with the master schedule of services planned for the year) and with the rabbi.
The expectation is that the Bar/Bat Mitzvah will be an FJC Shabbat day event and the service (but not necessarily the reception) open to the congregation. In order to qualify as an FJC event, the location of the service must be agreed upon with the Board and the membership of the FJC must be invited. Families wishing to send out personal invitations will be provided a mailing list from the membership chairperson.
If the Bar/Bat Mitzvah service is not open to the Congregation there will be an expectation for the student to participate in a Friday night FJC service and for the family to host an Oneg Shabbat at that time to honor the event.
The rabbinical fee is $250 for the rabbi’s services at the current time. This fee is subject to change at the Board's discretion. If the event is independent of the FJC, the fee is to be independently negotiated with the rabbi.
Boys celebrating a Bar Mitzvah must wear a kippah and tallit. For girls, a kippah is necessary and the tallit optional. Students wearing a tallit should obtain it well before the Bar/Bat Mitzvah to ensure that it doesn’t arrive too late.
If a program booklet describing the services and the honors distributed is desired, the family is responsible for deciding the content of the program and financing the cost of the program. This content should be reviewed with the rabbi conducting the service.
It has been a tradition for families celebrating a Bar/Bat Mitzvah with the FJC to contribute a gift to the synagogue. Suggested appropriate gifts are a ritual object or a set of books. If you choose to give a gift to the Synagogue it can be determined in consultation with the rabbi and/or the President of the FJC.
- Families wishing to use St. James Parish Hall must first notify the FJC Board of Directors, who will clear the date with the secretary of St. James. When reserving the Parish Hall, please discuss any food requirements directly with St. James. They have a preferred catering service and need to approve use of the kitchen facility. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah family is responsible for arranging the set-up and clean-up of the Parish Hall and kitchen, providing paper goods and serving utensils, and taking out the trash. Tables and chairs will need to be returned to the pre-event condition. St James does not charge a fee for using the Parish Hall, however the FJC strongly encourages each family to make a donation to the church for use of their facility.
- Families wishing to make Bar/Bat Mitzvah arrangements at other locations should discuss set-up and the specifics of the service with the rabbi conducting the service.
- Families wishing to make arrangements at locations other than St. James and use the FJC torah are required to sign a contract (attached.) Use of the torah for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah must be cleared with the FJC board of directors. The torah is for use by FJC members only. The torah must be obtained from St James and returned as quickly as possible following the service.
In conclusion: We understand that a Bar or Bat Mitzvah is a major event in the life of the family. Our goal as a congregation is to make the event as meaningful as possible, and the preparations for it as smooth as can be. If there are problems or challenges along the way, feel free to talk with the rabbi or Religious School head or synagogue President.
Please download the Fauquier Jewish Congregation Torah Use Agreement and remit to:
Fauquier Jewish Congregation
P.O. BOX 3162
Warrenton, VA 20188