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Bnei Mitzvah in a Time of COVID FAQ

What are our options to cancel, postpone, etc.  What are other people doing?

We are here to customize what suits your family from a range of options.  

Option One is to have the Bar/t Mitzvah over Zoom and Youtube as the only bar/t mitzvah service.  The teen and their family Zoom from their home.  The teen chants their parts from their study materials and prepares a D'var Torah with Rav Nadav in advance.  There will be some differences in the service. They are listed below.  Honors for family members are largely limited to English readings and a parental charge.  There is a special Honors Form for this.

Option Two is to postpone the Bar/t Mitzvah to a future date when we can expect to be in the sanctuary.

Option Three is to have the teen do their parts by Zoom/Youtube this year, and reserve a future date when we can expect to be in the sanctuary and invite friends, family, etc. to have an affirmation on the bimah.  On the future date, the teen would do prayers (e.g. Torah service, ashrei, musaf) they’ve already learned plus take an aliyah.  As for haftarah and Dvar Torah: since the teen has already done the Zoom bar/t mitzvah, whether either of these parts would be done on the bimah would be something we'd discuss.  One possibility is the teen takes on no new responsibilities; another is the teen learns another Torah reading and have an aliyah; another is that the teen prepares a new Dvar Torah with Rabbi Caine.  Family members could be given Torah honors.  In short, you reserve a future date and we’ll wait and see how we wish to use it.  

How is the Zoom service different from a normal service?

It is important that you attend a Saturday morning service to see for yourself.  When we do the service by Zoom, reading the Torah and haftarah are forms of “study” rather than being a formal “Torah Service.”  As a form of study, there are no “aliyot” or Torah honors for relatives, other than readings:  prayers for country, Israel, peace, and potentially additional readings.  Normally by Zoom, there are no blessings before or after the Torah readings nor before or after the Haftarah, though we make an exception for the teen to do them since for them it is essentially a once in a lifetime event.

My teen has learned the Torah service.  Can he/she do any of that?  

Yes, if they can do them solo, or with family on the same screen, yes they may, even though we are not doing them on a normal Shabbat.   In the honors form, you’ll see asterisks indicating things we don’t normally do but could be done by the bar/t mitzvah per your request, since we make an exception in this case if you wish us to.

What honors can I assign to relatives and friends for a Zoom bar/t mitzvah?

You may assign the Prayers for Our Country, For Israel (Hebrew and English), Prayer for Peace, plus additional prayers in the supplemental reading packet (For Creation, A Blessing, etc.)  The packet of readings can be downloaded by clicking here.

Are there any advantages to a Zoom/Youtube service?

For one thing, you can have people attend from all over the world, and in a way that is comfortable for them to do so.  For another, some teens are understandably anxious when leading from the bimah in front of a lot of people and Zoom mitigates that stage fright. 

Another advantage is that, having saved time on Torah processions, Rabbi Caine invites the parents to deliver a Parental Charge (something that is not possible during a sanctuary service).  They may speak for a few minutes on what it's been like to care for this beautiful soul through their childhood, and what they hope for their future.

What are the links for the Zoom and Youtube services?

The Zoom link is the same as it is for every Saturday morning service, as listed on the homepage of this website (without the password) and in the Just the Links email each week with the password embedded.  The Youtube link to our channel is and one must then click on the Live feed of the service when it appears.

Do I need RSVP's from Zoom guests?

We don't require confirmed RSVP's for Zoom guests, but we do require the guest invitation list.  Also, 1)  please tell your guests that it's vital they sign in with real names, as we will not admit people with suspicious names like "Ipad" or "Ready to Party."  They should be prepared to indicate to a screener in the chat area that they are guests of the bat/r mitzvah family.  2)  Please give your guest list to Amanda (our engagement director) so she can see if names in the waiting room match the guest list, and when they do, admit them quickly.

Is there anything I should know about assigning honors?

Yes, because a Zoom service necessitates Rabbi Caine knowing exactly which screen to shift the featured spotlight to, you must ensure that those with honors are signed into Zoom with the name you gave Rabbi Caine for that honor.  (It has already happened many times that a person with an honor is signed in as someone else, like the name of their spouse or child, and they “wave” on screen thinking Rabbi Caine can see them.  That does not work when there are 120 screens to scan.)  Also, you must ensure that the honorees have a copy of their reading.  (Rabbi Caine cannot hand them a prayerbook.)

Can you give me a detailed order of the service that will occur?

The following is the order of the service. *Asterisk denotes “optional" as it is something that we do not normally do by Zoom but we will not deny a bat/r mitzvah teen the opportunity to do it if they wish.

(9:30-10:15  Morning Prayers by Congregants)
*Tallit Blessing (page 62) and putting on of the Tallit
*Page 139 Ein Kamokha solo to the bottom of the page.
*Page 140 Bei Ana Racheitz if can be done accurately solo.
*Page 140 Shema, Echad Eloheinu, Gadlu.  (The “congregational repetition” of each line will be done by family on the same screen or by Rabbi Caine)
*Page 141 Lkha Adonai Hagdula
Torah readings 1-7 begin:  Whichever ones the Bat/r Mitzvah is doing, they will chant at the right point.  Bar/t Mitzvah teen DOES THE TORAH BLESSINGS though others don’t. Blessing for healing by rabbi at some point during the readings.
7th or Maftir (if not identical to #7) by Bar/t Mitzvah teen.
Rabbi does Mishebeirakh for the Bat/r Mitzvah
Introduction to the Haftarah
Haftarah blessing, then Haftarah, then Blessing After Haftarah
(Siman Tov song sung by rabbi and others)
D’var Torah
*Charge from Parent(s) + (optional) Priestly Blessing of Parent(s) to Teen [p. 119] + Shehechiyanu
*Yekum Purkan (148)
[Honor] Prayer for Our Country (148)
[Honor] Prayer for Israel in Hebrew (149)
[Honor] Prayer for Israel in English (149)
[Honor] Prayer for Peace (149)
[Additional Reading Honors]
*Ashrei 151  (All by teen, or duet with Rav Nadav, or duet with another family member)
*153 Yehallu and Mizmor L’David
*154 Etz Chayim Hee
Rabbi’s Remarks
Teen or Congregant leads Musaf Prayers  155-181 (Teen may do Kedushah. If Musaf not done by teen, no Kedushah.)
Ein Keloheinu 182
Aleinu 183
Rabbi:  Mourner’s Kaddish 184
Adon Olam 187

Do we have the option of streaming from the sanctuary with just a few immediate family members?

The sanctuary is not open to anyone but staff at this time.  If you wish to have a Torah scroll for the service in your home, please ask Rabbi Caine for details on what that would entail.

Can we borrow prayerbooks from the synagogue to distribute to locals for the service?

Yes.  Contact the office to arrange.

Tue, April 13 2021 1 Iyyar 5781