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Dear Friends –

One of our greatest pleasures is the opportunity we have to learn with youngsters on the verge of their teen years. In that regard, each of us plays a key role in preparing the children of Sinai Temple to become Bar and Bat Mitzvah and then move on into further learning in our 8th, 9th, and Tenth Grade programs. Cantor Levson works individually with each child on the reading and chanting of prayers plus the Torah and Haftarah portions. Rabbi Shapiro meets with each Bar/Bat Mitzvah family privately to shape their service experience and then works as well with each child individually. We enrich the whole process in Sixth Grade with a weekend retreat for all students and then continue with special programming through Seventh Grade. By the time a child is ready to participate in the Bar/Bat Mitzvah service, we know that child well. We know the family well, and we hope that the process has been sacred and beautiful for everyone. If you have any questions for either of us, please be in touch. We think the Bar/Bat Mitzvah process at Sinai can truly be a milestone in your family’s Jewish life!

Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro
Cantor Martin Levson



Education Requirements for Becoming A Bar/Bat Mitzvah

  • Any student planning to become a Bar/Bat Mitzvah must be enrolled in and attending Sinai Temple Religious/Hebrew School or an equivalent school which is organized and run under Jewish auspices. (There is a three year minimum requirement of attendance at Sinai Temple Religious School (Sunday and Tuesday) in order to become a Bar/ Bat Mitzvah at Sinai Temple. This is a minimum requirement, as well, for any student who begins attending Sinai Temple Religious School after grade 3.)
  • Any student who previously attended a Jewish day School, but is not presently attending one, will be required to attend Sinai Temple's Sunday program and possibly Hebrew school. He/she will be evaluated by the Director of Education, the Rabbi or the Cantor to determine his/her competency in Hebrew. Any child attending a Jewish Day School at the time of Bar/Bat Mitzvah but not during the previous few years will be evaluated to determine their competency in Hebrew. If the child's competency is deemed satisfactory, he/she will be considered to have met the equivalent of the Hebrew program at Sinai. If the child's competency is unsatisfactory, attendance at Hebrew classes and/or individualized assignments according to need of the student (which is not limited to but may include tutoring) will be developed by the Director of Education and/or the Rabbi or Cantor.
  • If a student becomes Bar/Bat Mitzvah in seventh grade, he or she must be enrolled in, attend, and complete the seventh grade Sunday and weekday Judaic programs. If the child becomes Bar/Bat Mitzvah in eighth grade, he or she must be enrolled in, attend and complete the eighth grade program offered by Sinai Temple.
  • Students will attend required Shabbat services (see service requirement information) and appropriate holiday festivals.
  • Students will attend special programming, which may require off-site trips.

a. Off-site (possible overnight) retreats

b. Local field trips (i.e. Springfield JCC, Islamic Center, Mikvah)

c. Trips for older grades, such as the Religious Action Center in Washington, D.C.

  • Students will be given a Bar/Bat Mitzvah date in early spring of fifth grade, after they have been assessed (if new to the school) and have attended 4 of the required 5 Shabbat Services for grade 5 students.
  • In the event that a student has been enrolled in Sinai Temple Religious School and is under-performing and/or has excessive absenteeism, the decision to evaluate that child may be made. At that time it may be decided to change his/her Bar/Bat Mitzvah date or take another course of action to fully prepare a child to lead a Shabbat service as a Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
  • Sinai Temple Religious School will make every reasonable effort to meet the needs of special needs learners. Parents of children with special needs may, in addition, elect to provide individual Hebrew tutoring for their children. If this is the case, the Director of Education can recommend Hebrew teachers who would be willing to work as a tutor.

It is also our understanding that becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah is part of the larger educational program of life-long Jewish learning at Sinai. All students are encouraged and expected to continue learning through to the end of Tenth Grade Confirmation, as well as become active members of our Sinai community.

Exceptions to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah requirement policies will be considered if submitted in writing to the Religious School Committee. The Committee will respond in writing within seven days following its next regularly scheduled meeting. If the family is not satisfied, they may seek review of their request by the Sinai Temple Board of Trustees. (All decisions of The Board of Trustees are final).

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