Bar/Bat Mitzvah Guidelines

In order to prepare a young person appropriately for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, it is important that a he/she receives an adequate Jewish education and that the child and her/his family become a part of a congregation prior to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah period. In this way, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah is as an integral part of a family’s relationship to their Judaism and their Jewish community.

In order to assure that the Bar/Bat Mitzvah is a meaningful experience for all involved, the Columbia Jewish Congregation has instituted the following policies regarding congregational membership, school enrollment and Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation. In devising these policies the leadership of the congregation is well aware that congregational membership and school enrollment requires, not only a commitment of time and energy, but of finances as well. We will do everything possible to assist families in need, to enable them to join the congregation and enroll their child(ren) in the school. If you have concerns regarding finances, please contact the congregation’s treasurer and/or the school’s educational director to discuss these issues.

CJC’s policy for a young person’s eligibility for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah service requires:

  1. The child must be enrolled in the Congregation’s religious school beginning in the third grade. (If a family is new to the area, attendance at another accredited religious school will be considered.)
  2. The family must join the Congregation by the time the child enters the third grade. (If a family is new to the area, previous membership in another congregation may be acceptable.)
  3. All Bar/Bat Mitzvah students prepare with the Cantor and the Rabbi during the Bar/Bat Mitzvah year including participation in the Coming of Age Program and tutoring. In addition, all Bar/Bat Mitzvah students and their parents are expected to attend CJC’s monthly Bar/Bat Mitzvah family education program (Coming of Age), as this is an integral part of the preparation process. Bar/Bat Mitzvah students and their parents are expected to attend a minimum of one Friday night and one Saturday morning service per month during the year prior to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah (excluding July). This will help provide a sense of continuity for the students and their families, to feel more comfortable at services and help to create a greater sense of belonging to CJC and to the larger Jewish community.
  4. At the time Bar/Bat Mitzvah dates are assigned (approximately two years prior to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah), any past-due Congregational dues and/or School fees must be paid in full or arrangements must be made to satisfy all such commitments. Families are encouraged to contact the Congregation’s Executive Director and/or the School’s Educational Director to make arrangements for fee reductions or installment payments, if there are financial difficulties, as it is our intention that finances never serve as a barrier to congregation membership or school enrollment. Families must continue to be in good standing at the time of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah. 
  5. The family must continue membership in the Congregation and the child must continue attendance in the Religious School following Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Families may not resign from the Congregation following the Bar/Bat Mitzvah of one child and then re-join prior to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah of a subsequent child.
  6. Like other Lifecycle events, Bar/Bat Mitzvah fees are included in membership. This covers pre-Bar/Bat Mitzvah classes, tutoring, cantorial services, and other expenses related to Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation and for the service itself. It does not include regular Religious School classes. Families must be in good standing in order to begin the tutoring process. Please contact our Executive Director, if you have any questions. 

Special Circumstances

In the event that a child is not enrolled in the School by the third grade or does not meet the educational requirements, the Rabbi and Educational Director will discuss the situation with the family and develop an individualized plan of study that will enable a child to achieve the education and skills necessary for Bar/Bat Mitzvah.

In a case where non-educational guidelines (i.e., attendance at service, membership in CJC, etc.) are not met, the Rabbi and a representative of the CJC Board will meet with the family to discuss the situation and arrive at a mutually satisfactory solution so that the child may continue towards Bar/Bat Mitzvah. It is understood that failure to follow any or all of the guidelines may result in a delay of the actual Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony beyond the age of 13. Please contact the Rabbi, educational director, or president as soon as possible, if you feel that you may have difficulty following any of the guidelines.

2020 B’nai Mitzvah Handbook

2021 B’nai Mitzvah Handbook