Bar and bat mitzvah preparations usually begin with an orientation meeting with the synagogue’s b’nai mitzvah coordinator nine months before the service. Students then have a series of meetings with the chazzan (cantor).
Once a student grasps the Haftorah trope, he or she is assigned a madrich (tutor) for weekly sessions; this begins about six months prior. Training is supervised through the b’nai mitzvah coordinator, chazzan and the rabbi.
“We also encourage our bar and bat students to participate in the Friday night services and morning minyan the week of the bar or bat mitzvah date,” says Debby Hellman, b’nai mitzvah coordinator at Chizuk Amuno Congregation in Pikesville.
Bar and bat mitzvah services generally take place on Shabbat morning in a synagogue, although some families choose to have the rite of passage on a Saturday afternoon or during a Friday night Havdallah service. The young man or woman stands on the bimah and recites minimally the Maftir (final passages from that week’s Torah reading) and the Haftorah in Hebrew. Family members are also called up to say a prayer and take part in this meaningful religious rite of passage.