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Thursday, December 5, 2013,
2 Tevet 5774.
The most important life passage of Jewish childhood and adolescence is Bar Mitzvah for a boy and Bat Mitzvah for a girl. It is about ritual maturity and about growing up as a Jew. It is about becoming a fuller member of the Jewish community and we hope, of Hendon Reform Synagogue. It is also about moral responsibility, about connecting to Torah, community and God.
The essence of the Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah at the age of thirteen is a call to the boy and girl to recite the blessings over the Torah. This can be accomplished at any time the Torah is read and in a way, marks the time that he or she can take their place in the congregation participating fully in the service.
In Reform synagogues, the Bat Mitzvah has the same responsibilities and the same privileges as a Bar Mitzvah, taking a equal role in the service. It is an important stage on the road to maturity and marks a time when the youngster should begin to respond to the needs of his/her family and with growing maturity, to those of the community.
PRE BAR/BAT MITZVAH
In order to prepare for this important occasion, every child is required to attend Religion School and in the approaching year, the Shabbat morning class which will prepare them. Children are also requested to stay for the morning service so that they can familiarise themselves and feel comfortable amongst the congregation. The family of the youngster are strongly encouraged to attend regularly on Shabbat and the enjoyment of their own Simcha can only be enhanced through the unique feeling gained by this family experience.
The custom of reading from the Torah on a Shabbat morning is the central part of the Shabbat service. In Talmudic times the synagogues of Babylon and Palestine had different practices, the latter reading the complete Torah on a three year cycle while the former read in in one year. Reform Synagogues follow the Palestinian custom! The Torah is the only record of early Jewish history and contains also fundamental eithical mandates [mitzvot], early ritual practices and civil and criminal legislation.
This is the name given to the reading from the Prophetic books which follow the Torah reading. The custom is so old that its origin is unknown and even the derivation of the name is not certain although it is thought to come from the Hebrew root patar which can mean to conclude. The person who reads the Haftorah is called Maftir and is often called up for the last portion of the Torah reading. The Haftorah which has been selected by the Rabbi in advance is read in English at HRS and the youngster is encouraged to read or chant the Blessings in Hebrew.
"Aliya" means "going up". It is the custom to call people up to the Torah reeading using their Hebrew names. Those receiving an "Aliya" to the Torah are invited either to chant or read the Blessings. HRS normally has three Aliyot during the reading of the Torah which includes the Bar/Bat Mitzvah reading the Maftir Aliya [the last portion]. The person honoured with Maftir also recites the Haftara. The Maftir Aliya was assigned to the Bar Mitzvah because it was an additional Aliya.
If attending HRS as a guest for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, please note that mobile phones should be switched off and neither videos or photographs are permitted to be taken. Pleas do not throw sweets onto the Bimah at any time during the service.
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