Bar & Bat Mitzvah

A Bar and Bat Mitzvah Planning Guide

We’re here to help!

Being called to the Torah as a bar or bat mitzvah provides an opportunity for communal recognition of a major milestone in the lives of our families. Approximately 60 children will celebrate becoming a bar or bat mitzvah this year at Temple Emanu-El. Members have the opportunity of participating either at the public worship service on Shabbat morning or at a private family service that may be scheduled Saturday afternoon or evening. There is no “doubling up”; only one child becomes a bar/bat mitzvah at a given service.

A date for a bar or bat mitzvah service may be scheduled once a child reaches fourth grade or when a child turns 10. Any child who is becoming a bar or bat mitzvah at Congregation Emanu-El is enrolled automatically in our Religious School and must remain enrolled to continue to hold the date for the service. To schedule a date, or to ask specific questions about the process, please contact Jessica Ingram – 212-507-9514. To discuss issues related to the preparation and ritual of calling a bar/bat mitzvah to the Torah, including tutoring, please contact Rabbi Amy Ehrlich – 212-507-9590

Copies of the Religious School registration form can be downloaded in PDF format. Enrollment questions should be directed to the Religious School – 212-507-9546.

Your Reception at Emanu-El…

We are pleased to be able to offer our magnificent spaces to temple members, not only for religious services and life-cycle events but also for the celebrations associated with them. We want your event to be memorable and are here to help you and your guests enjoy the experience free of stress and worry.


The current bar/bat mitzvah fee is $2000; this is the same for both Sabbath morning and private services. For those having private services, there is an additional cost for music selection. Music rates can be accessed in this document. Each family also contributes $325 for the Oneg Shabbat on the weekend of their child’s service. Please note: Fees are subject to change, usually updated in June, annually.

Your annual dues and all fees, including Religious School tuition, must be paid in full prior to the bar/bat mitzvah date.


It may seem obvious what information should be included on your invitation, but the following will help you with the specifics of spelling, wording and designation of our address.

Name and Address of the Temple

Please list the location as either Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York or Temple Emanu-El. If you choose the latter, make sure to include “New York City” or “Manhattan” after the name, as there are about two dozen temples of the same or similar name in the tri-state area.  Please make sure “Emanu-El” is spelled as shown.

If your service is scheduled in either the Fifth Avenue Sanctuary or Beth-El Chapel, designate the address as Fifth Avenue and Sixty-fifth Street or Fifth Avenue and 65th Street, spelled and capitalized as you see here. There’s no need to designate the chapel within the temple as guests will be directed once they enter at Fifth Avenue. If your ceremony is being held in Greenwald Chapel, use the address One East Sixty-fifth Street or One East 65th Street.

Time of Service

If your child will be participating in our regular Saturday Worship Services, the time to list on your invitation is 10:30 AM. The times of private services vary, and what you put on your invitation should be what has been determined in your discussions with the temple’s administrative office when arranging the time and date of the service.

If you and the rabbi change the time or location, remember to contact the office with all new information. Please note that our services begin promptly. To schedule or change a date or time, call the Membership Office at (212) 507-9515.


As you may already know, the correct wording is that your child is “becoming a bar mitzvah” or you are “celebrating your child becoming a bat mitzvah.” Our rabbis will be happy to help you with the wording for your invitation if you have any questions about proper usage. Please send us the printer’s proof of your invitation before it’s printed. This will make certain that everyone agrees over details of spelling, time and location. You may fax your proof to (212) 570-0826, or email it to the Membership Office.


Temple Emanu-El will provide security for your service. The guard has the right to inspect bags. This is done for your protection and for that of your guests. As we get many visitors and tourists, please remind your guests to bring invitations with them to the temple.


At Temple Emanu-El, our desire to preserve the dignity of worship enables congregants and guests to enjoy the sanctity of this very special day without interruption or distraction. In part, this is accomplished by refraining from photography during the service and allowing special times and arrangements for the taking of pictures.

You may take family photos prior to the service, depending on the temple’s daily schedule. This will afford you the opportunity to pose formal portraits in the appropriate setting. Photographs also may be taken during the final rehearsal. Please call the office to set up an exact schedule for taking photographs.

For those participating in regular Sabbath morning services, you may take photographs in the Fifth Avenue Sanctuary between 8:30 AM and 9:45 AM. Call the office to set up a photo shoot.

Please note: No photography is allowed during Sabbath morning services. For those with private services, when the doors are opened to welcome the guests (30 minutes before the invitation time), all photographers must leave the sanctuary or chapel and lobby. They may go to the choir loft or south gallery to set up for shots during the service. Please note: No flash or artificial light may be used during services.


Upon request, Temple Emanu-El can provide a videographer to use the temple’s livestream system to broadcast and/or record your child’s service.  Livestreams are password protected, with passwords given to share with other family members and friends.  Recordings are saved on a flash drive and given to the family 1 or 2 weeks after the service.  Arrangements for livestream and recording must be made upon booking, temple videography rates can be found in this document.  Families may also provide their own videographer if they wish; as with photographers, certain restrictions will also apply. Contact the Membership Office at (212) 507-9515 for additional details.


For those holding their service during regular Sabbath morning worship, flowers are already provided by the temple’s Bimah Flowers Fund. For those holding a service in the Beth-El or Greenwald chapels, you have the option of providing your own flowers. If you wish to have your florist provide an arrangement for the bimah, have the florist call the administrative office — (212) 507-9511 — to discuss dimensions, guidelines and delivery schedule.

Regardless of where your child’s ceremony is held, you may choose to contribute to the Bimah Flowers Fund for that week. Notice of your floral tribute will appear in the Temple Bulletin. For additional information about how you may make a Bimah Flowers contribution, please call the Membership Office at (212) 507-9515 at least eight weeks prior to the Sabbath of celebration.


On the weekend of your child’s service, it is our hope that you and your family will worship with us at the Friday evening service (6:00 PM) and then join us afterward for a celebratory congregational Oneg Shabbat, where your child will receive a blessing.

Quick Reference Guide

Who do I contact?

For questions concerning:

• Temple Emanu-El’s bar/bat mitzvah traditions

• Liturgy

• Tutoring

• Rehearsals

Call Rabbi Amy B. Ehrlich at (212) 507-9606.

For questions regarding:

• Chanting the Torah

• The Kol Koren program

Call Cantor Mo Glazman at (212) 507-9533.

For questions about:

• Scheduling

• Changing the date or time of a service

• Invitations

• Florists

• Photography

• Transportation

• Dedicating Bimah Flowers in honor of your child

• Holding a reception at the temple

Call the Membership Office at (212) 507-9515.