All children at Belsize Square Synagogue are invited to participate in our Bar/Bat-Mitzvah programme. Dates are assigned in Year 6 and the actual programme begins in Year 7. The programme takes place on Sunday mornings during term time. One year before the date of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah each student is assigned a private tutor to teach the blessings and chanting of the Torah and the Haftorah.
Bar and Bat Mitzvah students are encouraged to take on a Mitzvah project as part of their preparation for coming of age of responsibility. Each student, in addition to receiving their portion, also receives a Student Guide with monthly activities that encourage their understanding of what it means to be a member of the Jewish community. We want the journey towards this important milestone to be an exciting one.
When pupils join the programme in Year 7, we expect them to attend Friday evening and/or Saturday morning services on a regular basis so as to familiarise themselves with the format of the our services, as well as the prayers and beautiful Belsize Liturgy that we are so lucky to have. Participants are also expected to attend monthly “Kabbalat Shabbat Chat” sessions with Cantor Paul on the second Friday of each month and “Joe and the Jews” sessions with Joe Hacker on the third or fourth Saturday of each month. These are informal sessions where our B’nei Mtzvah pupils get together before attending Friday evening and Saturday morning services and socialise with each other whilst discussing a Jewish theme, the Parasha for the week or a prayer or psalm taken from the Services.
Unfortunately the current Covid-19 pandemic has meant that we have had to cancel these popular sessions for the foreseeable future but Cantor Paul and Joe Hacker are both looking forward to starting these up again as soon as they are able to do so. In fact, they are already in the process of planning some thought-provoking topics for future sessions, as well as making the very important decision about what refreshments will be provided to their attendees when they meet-up!
Our B’nei Mitvah pupils are also expected to prepare a personal “Divrei Torah” which will be read out to the Congregation on their big day. This is discussed and formulated with the Rabbi closer to the Bar or Bat Mitzvah date itself and, in editing this together, something amazing is created.