Top Questions about Bar Bat Mitzvahs During Coronavirus

Top Questions About Bar Bat Mitzvah Services During Coronavirus

Top Questions About Bar Bat Mitzvah Services During Coronavirus

During this Coronavirus pandemic, families are deciding how to handle the postponement of their child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah service and/or celebration. Mitzvah Market spoke with four leading clergy about the most important questions facing Bar Bat Mitzvah parents and their children today:

If your child’s service is moved to another date, can they still recite their original Torah and Haftorah portions or do they have to learn something new? 

All four clergy we spoke with say it is OK to use the Torah portion you have prepared, even if your service date changes. 

Cantor Barbra Lieberstein has “given the families the option of either keeping the same Torah/Haftarah portion and writing their d’var Torah on the parasha of the weekend that the service is rescheduled for, or they can learn a new portion… I understand that the students have spent many months learning their Torah portions, and want to make the experience as stress-free as possible. The majority of the students who rescheduled are chanting the same portion and rewriting their speeches.” 

Rabbi/Cantor Ronald Broden shares, “I have had a few postponed ceremonies and I don’t change the Torah portion. In fact, I have never insisted on the specific Torah portion for any week. My approach has always been to let families know that there is a specific Torah portion for every week but that I allow children to choose any other Torah portion that they feel is something they are better able to relate to.”

“My students ALWAYS have the ability to choose their own Torah portion, so flexibility is my middle name,” says Cantor Debbi Ballard. “My students who have invested time in learning a Torah portion will keep theirs and they do not have to learn a new one.”

Rabbi Monte Sugarman is also permitting students to use the same Torah portion. For exceptional students who can do it, they can choose to learn a new portion based on the new timing of their Bar Bat Mitzvah date. 

If your service is taking place at home, how do you handle a Torah reading if you don’t have access to a Torah? Is it OK to just use the papers you have been studying from or are there other options?

The clergy all agree – don’t worry! They will either bring a Torah to your home (or wherever the service is taking place), or provide you with a scanned picture taken directly from the Torah.

“When I perform the ceremony in the home with the family, I have my Torah with me,” explains Cantor Ballard. “For ceremonies I perform on Zoom, my student is given a picture directly from the Torah and they print it for use at home. My student is always in possession of their papers in a binder and they will use that no matter where we perform the service.”

Can family members participate and/or recite prayers during the service over a video call?

Absolutely(!) agree our experts.

“The participation of family members and others has increased in the few ceremonies I have done over Zoom,” says Rabbi/Cantor Broden. “I have incorporated “An Abundance of Blessing” as a way for anyone to say something special and personal (and short) at the end of the ceremony.”

Cantor Lieberstein keeps guests on mute during the service but will unmute “those who have an Aliyah to the Torah, Grandparents’ blessing, and HaMotzi over the Challah.” She adds, “immediate family members present may have to double up on the other honors including presenting the Tallit, lifting, dressing, and undressing the Torah.”

We thank the clergy for taking the time to discuss these important issues facing Bar Bat Mitzvah families today.

Rabbi Sugarman shares a reminder for all: “If you don’t have joy, you have oy! If you have to delay your Bar or Bat Mitzvah for a year, it’s okay.” 

Read How to Word Bar Bat Mitzvah Postponement Cards
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Read 5 Ways To Continue Planning Your Bar Bat Mitzvah During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Read Bar Bat Mitzvah Parades: How To Celebrate from Home During Coronavirus

Thousands of Bar and Bat Mitzvah parents are sharing information and ideas about virtual Mitzvahs, re-booking their celebrations and more in Mitzvah Market’s 17 regional Facebook groups. Join here

Posted in Mitzvah Ideas, Judaica