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B'nai Mitzvah Program


"The world stands on three things –

study, worship, and acts of loving kindness."

Shimon the Righteous, Pirkei Avot 1:2

The Hill Havurah B’nai Mitzvah program prepares our youth to assume their responsibilities as adult members of Hill Havurah and the larger Jewish community. The Bar or Bat Mitzvah ceremony is the culmination of a course of Judaic study that for most Hill Havurah youth begins in either our Gan Shalom Cooperative Preschool or our Yavneh on the Hill religious school.

We also hope that the Bar or Bat Mitzvah ceremony will mark the beginning of students’ adult Jewish education, formal and informal, beginning with Hill Havurah teen programming and continuing through Chizuk at the end of the tenth grade. The B'nai Mitzvah ceremony demonstrates a desire to live according to Jewish values and to find inspiration from the study of Torah, as well as an ability to actively participate in a Jewish worship service. The B’nai Mitzvah is an early milestone in a lifelong process of defining a person’s identity as an American Jew in the 21st century.

Hill Havurah is an inclusive, independent Jewish community and seeks to support member families as they embark on a B’nai Mitzvah program. Many families have found that celebrating their child’s Bar and Bat Mitzvah with Hill Havurah has been a powerful way to mark their child’s place in the community.

When a family is ready to begin the process of preparing to celebrate a young person becoming Bar or Bat Mitzvah, they will first participate in a conversation with Rabbi Hannah, who will walk the family through the entire process. Families should reach out to talk about the process by the beginning of a student’s sixth grade year. If a student gets a late start, however, that is not a problem; Rabbi Hannah is available to discuss enhanced preparations customized to the individuals’ needs.

Together with Rabbi Hannah, the student and family will embark on a Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation program that includes exploration of one’s Jewish cultural identity, liturgical knowledge, and Jewish values, as well as service to the community. Our B’nai Mitzvah Program is designed to encourage both the student becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah and his/her family thinking more intentionally about what it means for them to be Jewish and how they want to express that Judaism in their lives now and in the future.

Hill Havurah offers a program which combines communal study through participation in Yavneh classes and individual study through work with Rabbi Hannah, as well as tutoring from a Hill Havurah-approved tutor.

  • The 6th grade class at Yavneh will be divided between the study of the Hebrew needed to participate in a Shabbat morning service, and the study of Judaics and Jewish identity formation.

  • Each student enrolled in the B’nai Mitzvah program will meet privately for one hour every one or two weeks with a tutor during the year before their B'nai Mitzvah ceremony for training in Torah reading and prayers the family has selected. Rabbi Hannah will also use this time to monitor and oversee the student’s progress on his/her Jewish study project and Mitzvah Project.​

Every Hill Havurah Bar/Bat Mitzvah must reflect the celebrant's focus on three defining aspects of Jewish life and identity:

Torah -- An understanding of Jewish culture and history. Hill Havurah sets no requirement for a family’s or youth’s level of religious observance, but a Hill Havurah Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony must include an expression of the meaning the young person has found from studying Torah, reflecting on Jewish values, and participating in Jewish culture and ritual practice.  Each Bar/Bat Mitzvah candidate will, with the assistance of Rabbi Hannah, research, write, and deliver a D'var Torah (Words of Torah) on their Torah and Haftarah (prophetic reading) portions as well as other Jewish ideas or values that are meaningful to the candidate.

Avodah -- A connection with God or the spiritual dimension of life through participation in Jewish worship. A Hill Havurah Bar/Bat Mitzvah observance will include the calling of the young person to the Torah at a worship service. The young person will learn the blessings upon being called to the Torah, read from their Torah and Haftarah portions, and take an active role in leading other parts of the worship service. You can find recordings of many prayers from our Shabbat morning service at the following link:

Gemilut Chasadim -- Each young person preparing to celebrate becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah with Hill Havurah will undertake a meaningful, hands-on, and ongoing volunteer commitment that serves the greater community. S/he will, together with Rabbi Hannah, choose a Mitzvah Project that is meaningful to him/her.  Gemilut Chasadim, acts of loving-kindness, will help the student reflect on his/her responsibility to others and other Jewish values. S/he will include lessons learned from the volunteer experience as part of the talk s/he shares in the course of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony. Here are some ideas for you to consider. ​​​​​

Although every B’nai Mitzvah program will include all three of these aspects, students and families, in consultation with Rabbi Hannah, will choose how to incorporate them into an overall study program that reflects the individual student’s talents and interests.


Timeline of the B'nai Mitzvah Process and other Specifics

Our "B'nai Mitzvah Program Guide for Families" contains a timeline of the process and other specifics that every B'nai Mitzvah family needs to know. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Rabbi Hannah at



Tuition for the B’nai Mitzvah program is $2,500 per year. The program includes up to 30 one-hour sessions of tutoring from a Hill Havurah-approved tutor.

To register for the B’nai Mitzvah program, please contact Executive Director Alan Shusterman at (Please note -- The program is open only to Hill Havurah members.)

Also, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Alan at

Financial Assistance: Hill Havurah is an inclusive, welcoming community, and we work to make our programs accessible regardless of financial circumstances. If you need assistance, please contact Alan at



Sat, December 4 2021 30 Kislev 5782