In addition to virtual services from your home, Bar and Bat Mitzvah services can also be conducted outdoors on both campuses.
B'NEI MITZVAH DURING COVID-19
- FAQs for On-Campus and At-Home Services
- Additional FAQs for On-Campus Services
- Additional FAQs for At-Home Services
- Parent Form for On-Campus Services
- Parent Form for Remote Services
- Are you allowing on-campus services?
- If I have a service outdoors on one of our campuses, can I still have guests participate virtually?
- How do I receive the link to send to guests?
- What information do you need from me for the service?
- How long is the service?
- Is it easy for participants to join the service?
- How can I honor my family throughout the service?
- Can my family members not present still participate in the service?
- Can we incorporate a photo or video montage?
- What if someone is late?
- Is there a limit on how many people can watch?
- Will we still have rehearsals prior to the service?
- What do I need to know about the Friday night virtual service?
- Will I be able to access the service recording following the service?
- Will there still be a tallit ceremony prior to the service?
- If I have more questions about my service, who should I contact?
In accordance with county, state and CDC guidelines, we are only conducting virtual and outdoor services. Unfortunately we aren't able to predict the trajectory of COVID in Los Angeles, or the county, city and state mandates to keep our city safe. Wilshire Boulevard Temple will abide by city, state and CDC guidelines, as well as our own policies and procedures, which are subject to change. We advise all families to plan to have an outdoors, or online, Bar or Bat Mitzvah. View our guidelines for a safe return to outdoor services on our campuses.
Wilshire Boulevard Temple will provide you with the appropriate link for your guests so they can view the service. You can expect to receive the link for your service to send to guests approximately 4-6 weeks prior to the service. Please note that before receiving the link, you must submit this form.
All families will need to fill out this google form at least one month prior to the service (the form is also below on this web page). In addition, approximately one week prior to the service we will need any recordings you wish to include in the service (pre-recorded aliyot from family members and/or video for the montage at the end of the service).
An aliyah is an opportunity for any Jewish friend or family member 13 years or older to be called to the Torah and chant the blessings before the Torah reading and after the Torah reading. Typically, students read three aliyot from the Torah. While the Bar or Bat Mitzvah student reads the blessings before and after the Torah reading for the third aliyah, you can invite family and friends to participate in the first two aliyot. While you are welcome to give honors as you see fit, we often find that families choose to honor aunts and uncles, and cousins over 13 for the first aliyah, and grandparents and parents for the second aliyah.
If you have more family you would like to honor during the service, please work with your officiating clergy to find other meaningful ways to honor your family members.
Family members not physically present may still participate in the service.
Participants can be included in two ways: one is to connect live in real-time on camera during the service and the other is to pre-record prior to the service. In all instances, we recommend that only one household chant at a time, as the Zoom lag can be difficult, as well as merging together various recordings. Recordings should be submitted one week ahead of time. If you have honorees in more than one household, you can split up the aliyot as follows:
- Blessing before the Torah: Group A
- Blessing after the Torah: Group B
- Blessing before the Torah: Group C
- Blessing after the Torah: Group D
The third aliyah is reserved for the Bar or Bat Mitzvah student. If you have more family you would like to honor during the service, please work with your officiating clergy to find other meaningful ways to honor your family members.
Please note: even when the live appearance is preferred, it is strongly recommended that each Aliyah reader or group record in advance to provide a back-up in case there are any connection problems during the service.
Under normal circumstances, special videos (i.e. montages) have been reserved for receptions after and outside the service. However, under these circumstances where all of your family and friends are gathered together in a private b'nei mitzvah service, it is possible to include a short video at the end.
Families are responsible for making and providing their own videos. Videos must be provided at least one week prior to the service. The ideal length of the video should be under 9 minutes; online viewers prefer shorter (3-7 minutes). If you want to show a slideshow, presentation, or photo gallery, please convert it to a video format (.mov, m4v, mpg4). Need help? Amanda Pleau, our Content Specialist, will be happy to help.
Bar and Bat Mitzvah families are invited to join in the beginning of the Friday night virtual service. Our virtual services begin at 6:00 p.m., and we ask families to sign on at 5:45 p.m. The Bar and Bat Mitzvah family will share in candle lighting, Kiddush and Motzi with our clergy.
All you need:
- the family together
- Shabbat Candles to light
- Kiddush Cup
The cantor will lead the blessings, and your family will be onscreen so we can wish you a Mazel Tov on the weekend ahead. As soon as the blessings are over, we will say "goodbye" to your family so you can enjoy the service and Shabbat dinner in your home.
If you have guests that would like to watch the Friday night services, the link is https://www.wbtla.
- Can you tell me more about your photography policy?
- What happens during inclement weather?
- Can I bring flowers to campus for the service?
- Can I bring challah and grape juice to campus?
- When can I take pictures on campus?
- Will my family and I be able to watch the montage with our virtual guests?
- What will the guests' experience be like throughout the service?
- You, and those you quarantine with, are welcome to arrive on campus 30-45 minutes prior to the start of the service, and take pictures in a select few designated places on campus (sanctuaries at the Glazer and University campuses, outdoors on all campuses but not in the area where the service will take place). During these posed pictures, you may briefly remove masks. Please make sure you are not near other temple employees, and note that your photographer must keep his or her mask on at all times.
- During the service, your photographer must remain in one designated, stationary location, masked at all times, and appropriately distanced from all other service participants.
- Unfortunately, clergy are not able to participate safely in family photos
- Once the staff and clergy have left the service area, and the religious service is over, your immediate family and those that you quarantine with may briefly take off your masks for posed pictures with the Torah and in the service area. Please make sure you are not near other WBT employees and do not ask for their assistance that may put them within 10 feet. Please note that your photographer must keep his or her mask on at all times.
- Those who are not in your quarantine group are not permitted to remain on campus following the service.
If rain is in the forecast for the day of your child's service, you are welcome to change the venue of your service and Zoom from your home. While the clergy will not be able to safety come into your home, we will bring the Torah to your house for the service. Alternatively, you are welcome to rent a water resistant event tent and outdoor heaters for campus. The tent must be large enough to safely distance clergy and guests.
Yes, you (or someone on your behalf) are welcome to bring flowers with you the day of the service, when you arrive on campus. If someone other than yourself will be delivering flowers, please be sure to coordinate details with Cheryl Garland at email@example.com.
We welcome your family to remain on campus following the service for family photographs. Please remember that masks must be worn at all times. Unfortunately, clergy will not be able to participate safely in your family photos.
Campus will not be available for photographs prior to the service.
We can provide your family on campus with a portable Smartboard for viewing the montage. If you prefer a larger outdoor monitor, you are welcome to rent one from an outside company and have it delivered to campus the day of your service. Please be sure to coordinate details with Cheryl Garland at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your guests will view the service via one of Wilshire Boulevard Temple's Live Stream pages. They won’t be visible throughout the service. It is possible at the conclusion of the service to invite your remote guests to "Join the Family," at which point they can turn on their cameras and be seen and heard as they would in a regular Zoom video chat.
- What technology do I need for the service?
- How will I read from the Torah?
- Can I keep track of guests who attended the service?
- Do you have any advice on how to make my child's online Bar or Bat Mitzvah special?
- What about prayerbooks?
- Even though my service will be online, can we still take pictures on campus?
- What will the guests' experience be like throughout the service?
The Torah will be brought to your home by your officiating Rabbi around 5 days prior to the service. You will have at least one online rehearsal with your cantor while you have the Torah so you can practice reading from it. Here are rituals you can do with the Torah, as well as guidelines on caring for the Torah:
Following the service, we ask that all families return the Torah to one of our campuses on the Monday following the service, so we can quarantine the Torah before passing it on to our next Bar or Bat Mitzvah student. Please coordinate delivery with Cheryl Garland, email@example.com. She will meet you on campus to safely receive the Torah.
Guests do not have to register or provide an email. However, if you’d like to collect RSVPs and keep track of guests, we can set the webinar up to require registration. This way, when you send out the link, guests will be asked to provide their name and an email address. They will also be sent a reminder email with a link before the ceremony.
We sure do! We've asked parents who have already gone through the process what advice they want to offer families going through the process. Here's what they have to say:
- Talk about how it important to you to have the Bar or Bat Mitzvah during this time. The show must go on.
- You are in your home, so talk about why you chose that specific room or the backyard if that is relevant.
- Build a website that has all of the information for the Bar or Bat Mitzvah. Our website had a PDF of the Siddur, the ceremony link, and an RSVP to the drive-by celebration. We also requested video messages that we edited into a movie that was placed on the site. The slideshow that we would have played during the reception was played at the end of the ceremony, and we posted that along with the recording of the ceremony on the website, so anyone that was unable to tune in live could still see the whole event.
- Test your lighting and sound ahead of time. We had a test over zoom with a family member where we looked at the sound in both our back yard and the living room. We had hoped to have the ceremony in our backyard, but during the test, we realized that the sound of nearby traffic and airplanes overhead made the sound less than ideal. So, we ended up moving to our ceremony indoors. We looked at the room on the video and made the decision to move knick-knacks out of the room. We added simple flower arrangements and the room looked inviting!
- You are at home, so you have access to family heirlooms and Judaica, so display them, use them, even talk about them as they relate to the Bar or Bat Mitzvah.
- Find ways to integrate other close family members who are not physically present. You can use photographs, talk about them in context of the service, or use technology to add them to the zoom.
- If it works, incorporate our current times to the service to help the service feel even more relevant to what we’re all going through now. For example, you could connect the Torah portion to some advice for living through a pandemic, or connect the parent blessing if that is a natural fit for you.
- Decorate a little to help the day feel festive, but keep it very understated. We got a couple banners from Etsy, used a Judaic tablecloth, and set up part of our sukkah to add shade to our backyard. Another idea comes from my friend who wrapped artificial flowers around her sukkah poles, or perhaps a vase with flowers from the garden.
- At the end of the service, we loved when all the viewers had a chance to come on screen and give their good wishes and congratulations.
- Have an intimate lunch with the immediate family afterwards. I set the table with party goods and decorations (all mail order) in a confetti theme to lend a celebratory feel. We had the bat mitzvah girl’s favorite meal delivered for lunch, plus a sprinkle cake to keep the confetti theme going.
- Have a celebratory drive through in front of your home. We had everybody stay in their cars so we could maintain social distancing. People came with and made signs and we enjoyed having quick chats with everyone.
Online guests can access our prayer book. For friends and family members who will be with you in person, you can use the online prayer book, or we are also happy to schedule a time for you to pick up prayer books from one of our campuses. To coordinate a time pick-up, please contact Cheryl Garland. Be sure to let her know how many you need! Please return the prayers books to campus when you return the Torah. Again, you will need to coordinate with Cheryl Garland.
Your guests will view the service via a Zoom webinar. They won’t be visible throughout the service, and will be muted. However, they will have the ability to use the chat function throughout the service. It is possible at the conclusion of the service to "promote" attendees to become "panelists," at which point they can turn on their cameras and be seen as they would in a regular video chat. For those having honors during the service, they will join as panelists throughout the service. We will need the names and email addresses of your panelists two weeks prior to the service, as they will receive a unique link for the service. Panelists will be able to start and stop their own video, and mute and un-mute themselves.