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Bat Mitzvah Celebrations at Ohev Sholom

09/12/2019 04:45:11 PM


Rabbi Herzfeld & Maharat Friedman


Ohev bat mitzvah celebrations are opportunities to celebrate the accomplishments of girls who grew up in our community, and we know each work super hard for this day. Their commitment is inspiring. What a blessing to be celebrating with these girls and their families!
These bat mitzvah girls will all lead Women’s Tefillah services in the main Sanctuary on the morning of their bat mitzvah. Since we are committed to providing all of our community's youth with halakhically-permissible opportunities to take leadership roles in our minyan or Women’s Tefillah, it is very important to our community that the bat mitzvah girl also have the option to hold her celebration in the main Sanctuary on Shabbat morning (if she so desires).
It is important to clarify that while a Woman’s Tefillah service is a beautiful and meaningful prayer service, it is not a minyan. Because it is not a minyan, men should not use this service as their opportunity to daven that morning. 

Here are the guidelines for how our synagogue will hold Shabbat morning bat mitzvah services:

  1. Our regular Shabbat service will start at 8:15am (instead of 9:15am) and will meet in the Chapel. This service will go through musaf and end at approximately 10:15 am, and it will not have the usual Dvar Torah.
  2. The Women’s Tefillah will start at 9:15 am with psukei d’zimrah in the Sanctuary.
  3. Men from our community who wish to attend the Women’s Tefillah in order to hear the bat mitzvah girl lead shacharit may only do so if they first attend the 8:15am service. (For extenuating circumstances see point c below.)

a. This is a model that is both progressive and halakhic. However, this model only works for our community if men actually go to the 8:15 am service for Shacharit. Otherwise, the critical mass of men that will arrive at shul and enter the Sanctuary for the Women’s Tefillah turns the Women’s Tefillah into a forum where there should ideally be a community minyan. Therefore, in order to preserve the integrity of the Women’s Tefillah service, the men from our community attending should have previously davened at the 8:15am service.  

We need your help to make this work as this needs to be a complete community effort. Even if one typically arrives late on Shabbat morning, we are asking all men to triple their efforts to get to shul in time for 8:15am Shacharit on these Shabbatot.

b. We view our guidelines as directions for the members of our community. We are of the opinion that guests of the bat mitzvah, who often come from a wide range of religious backgrounds, are attending the service as observers of our community and thus are not creating the need for our community to have a minyan at that time and place. 

c. A man who arrives for Shabbat services after Shacharit is completed in the 8:15am minyan should not daven Shacharit in the main Sanctuary either along with the Women’s Tefillah service or in “catch-up” mode in the Sanctuary.  Instead, in this extenuating circumstance, this man who wishes to observe the Women’s Tefillah Shacharit service should daven Shacharit in the chapel or in an alternative space and only then join the Women’s Tefillah service.

d. A man who arrives for Shabbat Services after 10:00am should still not daven Shacharit in the main Sanctuary alongside the Women’s Tefillah service. He should first pray Shacharit services in the chapel or alternative space and only then join the Women’s Tefillah services.

4. Those who attend the 8:15am service can enter the Sanctuary to hear the bat mitzvah girl lead Shacharit and/or read the Torah. The Women’s Tefillah will conclude with haftorah, and at that point those men who davened Shacharit at 8:15am and did not stay through till musaf at the earlier minyan will lead musaf in the main Sanctuary.

5. Those who daven straight through at the 8:15am minyan and who do not wish to enter the Women’s Tefillah still have a few options for after their service ends. If they exhibit interest, we can help organize a shiur and set aside a room for Torah study. Alternatively, help is always needed with our security team and youth groups. Please contact us if you would like to be involved with those efforts.

We realize that any change is disruptive. Yet, being part of a spiritual community requires everyone to give a little of ourselves in order to accomplish a greater good. In this context, our tradition reminds us that when we are bound together as one we are so much stronger than our individual parts. 

Sun, February 16 2020 21 Shevat 5780