Bar/Bat Mitzvah

Save the date!

We are excited to share this journey with your family and want to make it special.

All students receive their Bar/Bat Mitzvah date during the spring of Dalet (4th grade).   Rabbi Orrin will discuss any preferences with you regarding the type of service (Shabbat morning, Havdallah, Rosh Hodesh etc) as well as any preferred dates.

Our tutors and staff will be meeting with you during the Hei (5th grade) and Vav (6th grade) years to review expectations and the support we will provide to you during this exciting, yet overwhelming time. All families will also receive a guidebook that will explain our program; included is a section with frequently asked questions.

For more information on our Bar/Bat Mitzvah program please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Bar/Bat Mitzvah coordinator, Dawn Churchman.

What is expected of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah student?

It is understood that every child has unique abilities. The tutor, Rabbi and Cantor will tailor each student’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah service accordingly. In general, the students will:

  1. Chant the blessings before and after the Torah and Haftarah readings;
  2. Chant from the Torah;
  3. Chant from the Haftarah;
  4. Lead various prayers;
  5. Prepare and deliver a D’var Torah, a personal interpretation teaching the congregation a lesson based on the Torah portion for that week.

Individual Preparation

Individual preparation begins about nine months before your child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah. The student will spend a half‑hour each week in one‑on‑one tutoring session at the Melville JC. During this time, your child will learn to chant Torah and Haftarah and will perfect any prayers they will lead.

Students also meet with the Rabbi for study and reflection on their Torah portion. The Rabbi will assist the student with preparation of the D’var Torah and a final dress rehearsal will be scheduled for the week before  the service.

The Parents’ Role

An adult must be present at all lessons. We welcome all family members and close friends to participate in the service and chant a Torah portion, or lead a prayer.  English and Hebrew parts are available to all.

Dr. Leah F. Cassorla was born in Israel and raised both there and in the US. The third of four siblings, Cantor Leah is currently studying for dual ordination as Cantor-Rabbi at the Academy for Jewish Religion, which will make her the 9th generation of rabbis on her father’s side. With an equal lineage of military service on her mother’s side, Cantor Leah served at the Naval Academy in the US and in the National Service program in Israel. As an adult in Israel, she had the opportunity to study jazz at Rimon School of Music, the only worldwide partner to the Berklee School of Music in Boston, MA. Cantor Leah has worked as an educator in higher education as well as in religious education for more than two decades. She works hard to bring compassion, curiosity, and joy to her teaching, modeling for her students the love she has for lifelong learning and for Judaism, both of which were fed from a young age by her studies at the Phoenix Hebrew Academy, as well as her father’s pulpit, where she was given the opportunity to teach and to practice Hazzanut (prayer leading). It is in leading prayer and in teaching that Cantor Leah finds her greatest joys. Cantor Leah is accompanied by her therapy dog, Boobah, a 10 (ish) year old, one-eyed, Lhasa-Apso-Shih-Tzu mix her students often turn to for comfort and calm.