Becoming B’nai Mitzvah

Many Talmud Torah students will choose to become b’nai mitzvah at TBI. Our goal is for our b’nai mitzvah students to be able to confidently declare “Hineini!” (“Here I am!”) and understand and demonstrate what it means to them personally to be a Jewish adult.  This may look different for each student. They are all encouraged to focus on one or more of the following pathways to Jewish literacy and identity as they choose their course of study during their years in Talmud Torah.

  •  (Mind) Torah: includes Torah study and analysis, learning Hebrew, and a clear understanding of the key stories and themes in Judaism.
  • (Heart) Avodah: focuses on fluency and ease with songs and blessings used in services and everyday life so that students are able to confidently lead parts of services, and be actively Jewish in daily life.
  • (Hands) G’milut Chasidim: features learning about Jewish values and ethics including tikkun olam efforts and mitzvot-based activities.
  • (Body) K’lal Israel: explores what makes Jews “a people,” including cooking, cultural traditions, crafts, Jewish history, Israel, and/or contemporary Jewish issues.

To become b’nai mitzvah at TBI, students must be at least 13 and have earned a minimum of 36 credits from a combination of Sunday morning Cohort, Hebrew and JEWL classes (see the Talmud Torah Learning & Curriculum page for more information about those classes).

Students must take a minimum of 12 total credits in the two years before becoming b’nai mitzvah. This means that even students who have acquired many credits in elementary school, are still expected to be actively engaged in Talmud Torah leading up to becoming b’nai mitzvah.

When should students start and how many years do they need to become b’nai mitzvah? We recommend that students begin with our Sunday morning cohort class in kindergarten to build community and then, beginning in second grade earn an average of six credits a year (or two credits a term) towards becoming b’nai mitzvah-ready.  Students who start later may need to take more classes at a time. Students who are busy with many other activities may need to take fewer classes some terms and more classes others to work around their personal scheduling needs. Some of our students will be ready to become b’nai mitzvah at 13. Some will be ready at 14 or even older, and that’s okay. They may continue taking classes until they are ready to do so. Students are ready to be called to the Torah and become b’nai mitzvah when they know what it means to them to be Jewish and have enough foundation for continued learning to make saying “Hineini” meaningful.

It is not possible to accrue the credits necessary to become b’nai mitzvah at TBI in fewer than three years. New students to Talmud Torah will not start in Kita Vav or Zion, regardless of age (unless they have participated in religious school elsewhere).

Date Assignments: Families may request dates for b’nai mitzvah services in the summer prior to Kita Vav (6th grade). Students are assigned dates for their b’nai mitzvah services by that late summer/early fall after meeting with the religious school director and submitting the necessary paperwork. We do not accept requests or assign dates before that time.

Tracking Progress: The Talmud Torah office tracks student progress and communicates this to parents three times a year during Kita Vav and Zion. Students who are not making appropriate progress and/or showing committed participation will likely be asked to postpone b’nai mitzvah dates.

You can view detailed information about all things related to the b’nai mitzvah program in the B’mitz Family Handbook.

B’nai Mitzvah Program – Forms and Resources