Bar and Bat Mitzvah at City Shul
INFORMATION ABOUT THE SERVICE
All children who celebrate Bar or Bat Mitzvah at City Shul have to have been members of the shul and be part of the school from grade 6 (except day school students who begin their school experience with us in grade 7 but have been members since grade 6.) The special pre-Bar/Bat Mitzvah class meets on Wednesdays for the year before the Bar/Bat Mitzvah, no matter what other Jewish education they are receiving. Students are expected to attend weekly and attend the full hours of class. Students are also required to attend the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Shabbaton.
To ensure that the Bar/Bat Mitzvah service does not take place in an unfamiliar environment, each Bar/Bat Mitzvah child and their parent(s) are required to attend services at City Shul for the 2 years prior to Bar/Bat Mitzvah: in grade 6, 6 City Shul Shabbat morning services (i.e. Saturdays) and 2 City Shul holidays or special events; in grade 7: 8 City Shul Saturday morning services, 2 City Shul holiday or special events and 2 Shul volunteer activities prior to their Bar/Bat Mitzvah date. Events may be holiday services (e.g. Simchat Torah, Purim), holiday parties (e.g. Chanukah), or special events that will be offered during the year. High Holidays are not included in this requirement. Day school children are required to attend the same number of services starting in grade 6 even though they enter our school in grade 7.
The Bar or Bat Mitzvah is a family event. Parents are required to attend services with their children so that they too become part of the larger community and comfortable with our Shabbat service routine. We hope you will stay for kiddush lunch after the service to become a part of our community.
Children who are in our grade 7 programme and are having their actual Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony elsewhere than City Shul are still required to complete the entire programme including service requirements, the Shabbaton, ushering, and participating in class projects; they are invited to have an aliyah or other honour at our shul following whatever ceremony they have elsewhere. Out of shul ceremonies need to find their own tutors and do not use those on our shul list. We do not lend Torahs, prayerbooks, or chumashim out of the shul.
Your child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah date is chosen in consultation with the Rabbi up to two years before your child turns 13. Both girls and boys celebrate Bar and Bat Mitzvah at age 13. Their date can be any time after their 13th Hebrew or English birthday, whichever comes first, or up to one month prior.
All City Shul Bar and Bat Mitzvah services are part of our regular scheduled Saturday morning services, ensuring your child becomes part of the larger shul community. We do not offer Havdalah, afternoon, weekday, Rosh Chodesh or Sunday Bar and Bat Mitzvah services.
Bar and Bat Mitzvah candidates with special needs can celebrate during our Friday night services without a Torah or haftarah reading, or they can be part of our Saturday services with whatever accommodations are needed to make them feel accomplished.
The Bar/Bat Mitzvah Service
City Shul Saturday Bar and Bat Mitzvahs generally include the child reading the maftir, haftarah, and offering a dvar Torah, but each service is individualized to meet the child’s expertise, skill, interest, and wishes. Students able to do more, such as additional Torah readings or leading part of the service (repetition of the Amidah or the Torah service) are welcome to do so.
There is a possibility that there will be other congregants celebrating simchas at your Bar or Bat Mitzvah. There may be a congregant celebrating an aufruf, a special birthday, or remembering a loved one that day. They will receive at least one Aliyah and one other honour to mark their simcha. We do not guarantee that your family's simcha will be the only one that day.
Your family will be given many opportunities to honour your guests during the service. As well, there are honours reserved for our regular congregants. You will receive this list in advance of your simcha.
The family of the next Bar/Bat Mitzvah is the greeting family for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah before theirs. This includes both parents (unless it is a single parent family) and the pre-Bar/Bat Mitzvah child.
The greeting family must arrive by 9 a.m. They will help organize the sanctuary and be ready to greet congregants and guests by 9:30.
Greeting families will get a written sheet of full instructions by email the week before, and on that morning, for what they need to do before, during, and after services.
Kiddush (see detailed information below)
As you’ll see from attending a Saturday service at City Shul, we provide a friendly and welcoming Kiddush lunch to all of our congregants after the service. This includes Bar/Bat mitzvah services.
The Kiddush lunch which follows the service is open to all attendees: both invited guests and regular congregants. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah family is required to provide a Kiddush lunch for everyone even if they plan a private celebration in the evening or at some other time.
City Shul meets at the Wolfond Centre and all our Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremonies are held there without exception. Due to size limitations and our regular congregants attendance, Bar/Bat Mitzvah families may have no more than 120 guests.
Please keep in mind that there is no staff at the Wolfond Centre on Saturdays for any kind of additional set-up or to help change set-ups.
City Shul Etiquette
It is our tradition and expectation that all children in the pre-Bar/Bat Mitzvah class, along with their families, are invited to your child’s service and Kiddush.
It is our tradition that your child will receive a “class gift” from the pre-Bar/Bat Mitzvah class and not individual gifts from those children or families. The class gift is a donation to our Teen Engagement Fund.
It is also our tradition and expectation that the Rabbi, Cantor, teachers, Administrator/ B’nai Mitzvah Coordinator, youth workers and all those in the shul who have worked hard alongside you to make this such a special day will be thanked through a donation to the Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund or any other fund of the shul.
Bar/Bat Mitzvah program
Shul Membership - Terumah
Wolfond Centre rental
Table and Chair Rentals
Dishes, Cutlery, Linens – Rentals or Disposable (recyclable only)
Donation to shul
Donation to Rabbi's Discretionary Fund
Incidentals (challah, flowers, candy, l’chaim scotch)
INFORMATION ABOUT THE KIDDUSH
We all know that food is a very important part of the Jewish culture, so we make a big effort to provide a welcoming and substantial Kiddush lunch following each Saturday service. Our Kiddush lunch consists of 2-3 kinds of salads, a main dish, fruit, and baked goods. We provide this for every Saturday service for our congregants, including bar/bat mitzvahs.
There are three options for your meal: Meat, Dairy, or Vegetarian.
Meat: a COR kosher caterer or restaurant only must be used. You must also provide a hearty vegetarian option.
Dairy: either COR kosher or vegetarian-only restaurant or caterer.
Vegetarian: Either COR kosher or vegetarian-only restaurant or caterer may be used.
Fish may be served as long as there is no shellfish.
COR: Taam Tov (Abe Levy) for meat or dairy (416-785-7079)
COR: Ely’s Fine Foods for meat or dairy (416 782-3231)
COR Dairy: Pantry (416-785-0996)
Dairy/Vegetarian: Sonny Langer (905-881-4356)
For food prepared in a private home, please consult the rabbi.
The host family provides:
Dishes: If you are using a vegetarian caterer, you will need to rent dishes. We recommend Alligator Rentals on Dupont (416-532-1162) or Chairman Mills (416-391-0400). You must rent only clear glass plates and cups/glasses. You can rent any kind of cutlery. Our recommended caterers will also rent the dishes for you.
If you are using a COR kosher caterer, with their own waitstaff, they must rent COR-approved dishes for you.
For environmental reasons, we do not allow disposable dishes or cutlery. The shul can provide recycled, compostable disposables at an additional cost to you of $200 payable to the shul. For ecological reasons, no other disposables are allowed.
Linens: Cloth tablecloths can also be rented from Alligator or Chairman Mills or your caterer. For environmental reasons, we do not allow throw-away plastic tablecloths. We do not have linens to provide.
Tables and chairs: Wolfond Centre has approx. 170 chairs, 7 round tables (which seat 8), and 16 rectangular long tables (which seat 8 or can be used for buffet displays for food, drinks and desserts). The amounts are for both the service and kiddusht. Therefore additional rentals are required. The minimum chair order is 150. Additional tables/ cruisers rentals are dependent on the size of the bar/ bar mitzvah. The host family must rent additional items and have them delivered on Thursday and picked up on Monday.
Waitstaff: Your caterer provides plus you hire our official City Shul server. Your caterer must supply all food and drinks in ready-to-serve platters, with serving pieces. They are not allowed to use any of the shul’s supplies including the coffee maker, hot water urn, or warming trays.
Please have your caterer provide 1 waitress per 40 participants (don't forget to add 70 congregants to your number.) The cost to hire our server is $100 for the full event.
You may opt for an "all-in"price paid of $400 paid to the shul and the shul will provide the hot and cold drinks, the scotch, the gluten-free dessert, the challah, grape juice for kiddush, candies to throw, special occasion permit and the rental fee for Wolfond. Otherwise you must provide those items.
If you wish to provide these yourself, you must provide:
1. Cold drinks: juice and sparkling water (we do not serve pop or bottled water).
2. Hot drinks: Fair-trade coffee, fair-trade tea, milk, cream, soy milk, sugar and sweetener.
3. One bottle of scotch for our “adult l’chayim.”
4. One large Challah or two small.
5. Two large jugs of Kosher grape juice for kiddush.
6. One gluten free baked dessert.
7. Special Occasion Permit.
8. Candies to throw.
9. Wolfond Rental fee (payable to City Shul) - $180.
Only COR kosher caterers may use the Wolfond kitchen for set up, if you hire the Wolfond mashgiach. The Wolfond ovens may never be used.
A non-COR caterer has no access to the kitchen and must do all set-ups, plating, etc outside the kitchen.
Your food may be delivered on Saturday morning at 9 am (no earlier) and brought directly by your caterer to the room where Kiddush is being served. No deliveries are allowed after 9:30 am.
Flowers for the Kiddush, the bima or service must be delivered on Friday before noon.
A COR kosher caterer must deliver on Friday before noon. Their food can be put in our fridge as well as Wolfond fridges providing there is room.
Chairs and tables must be delivered by Thursday at 3 PM.
Set Up and Clean Up
The Wolfond Centre will set up all rooms as needed for both the service and congregational Kiddush. Your waitstaff is required to clean those rooms fully but not to take down tables or stack chairs.
Music, Decor, Photography
We strive for a simple, spiritual and Shabbat-appropriate atmosphere for you, for your guests, and for our congregation. We welcome flowers and plants but do not permit balloons, signs, sign-in boards, photographs of the child, reserved seating signs at either the service or the Kiddush, basket or table for gifts etc.
There is no recorded music at the service or Kiddush.
There is no photography or video before or during our services or congregational Kiddush.
Our Bar/Bat Mitzvah Coordinator handles ALL logistics of both the service and kiddush. We ask you NOT to hire any outside staff to do this.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. What happens if I have more than 120 guests?
A. Because we are a new shul, we feel that it is very important to have a consistent space for our congregants, and that location is the Wolfond Centre. We cannot accommodate more than 120 guests.
Q. What is a City Shul Kiddush like?
A. We all know that food is a very important part of the Jewish culture, so we make a big effort to provide a welcoming and substantial Kiddush lunch following each Saturday service. Our Kiddush lunch consists of 2-3 kinds of salads, a main dish, fruit, and baked goods. We want to provide this for every Saturday service for our congregants, including bar/bat mitzvahs.
Q. What happens if we don’t attend all the City Shul Shabbat services as required?
A. Your child will have to wait until s/he has attended the required number and until there is a new date available.
Q. What’s the cost of doing a bar/bat mitzvah at City Shul?
A. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah fee covers your child’s weekly class, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Shabbaton retreat, preparatory meetings with the Rabbi. The fee does not include your shul membership. Membership and school fees are separate. For the bar/bat mitzvah Kiddush, in addition to the cost of providing the lunch (and rental of tablecloths, dishes, cutlery, waitstaff), there is a tax receipted donation of $180 to Hillel for renting the entire Wolfond Centre, which is administered by City Shul. It is also traditional to make a donation to the the Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund or the shul itself.
Q. What if my child can’t/won’t read Hebrew?
A. There are tutors who can teach a child Hebrew, but if they choose not to learn the language, they can’t read from the Torah or Haftarah. However, there are other ways to recognize this milestone. Please speak to the rabbi for more details.
Q. If we’re having a party on the Saturday or Sunday night, are we required to invite any one from the Shul?
A. There’s no need to invite the clergy unless you have a close personal relationship with them. However, out of courtesy to the children in the bar/bat mitzvah class, we require that rather than just inviting one or two of the children from the class to that party, you invite either all or none.
Q. Can we serve alcohol at the Kiddush?
A. Yes! Will need to secure a “special events permit” from the LCBO. And because of the presence of children, we ask that you put the alcohol in an area not easily accessible by the children (away from the juice). L’chaim!
Q. My partner isn’t Jewish. Can we still have a bar/bat mitzvah for our child?
A. City Shul warmly welcomes interfaith couples to be a part of our synagogue and our school. We follow the rules of the Reform Rabbis of Greater Toronto and require conversion of children of non-Jewish mothers before the actual Bar/Bat Mitzvah date, and while the non-Jewish parent will be an integral part of the day, we do not call non-Jews to the bima or to the Torah. Our Rabbi will work closely with such families in preparation.
Q. Can we throw candy at the end of the Haftarah?
A. Of course! We suggest either mini-Mars bars (wrapped individually) because they’re peanut/nut-free and kosher or the soft wrapped jelly candies.