We do our best to make Bar Mitzvahs at Hampstead as meaningful as possible. Our Barmitzvah boys usually lein some or all of the Sidra, Maftir and Haftara. After the Sefer Torah has been returned to the Ark, Rabbi Michael addresses the Bat Mitzvah boy, gives him a blessing, and presents him with a gift from the Shul. We encourage our Barmitzvah boys to return to Shul regularly after their big day to put on tefillin and enjoy an excellent breakfast at our Sunday Lads and Dads events.
We feel strongly about making Bat Mitzvah for girls as meaningful as possible. After the Sefer Torah has been returned to the Ark, our Bat Mitzvah girls present a Devar Torah on a Jewish topic of their choice from the front of the Shul. Just as at a Bar Mitzvah, Rabbi Michael then addresses the Bat Mitzvah girl, gives her a blessing, and presents her with a gift from the Shul.
To book in a Bar or Batmitzvah in our Shul, please contact both our Administrator at the office and the Rabbi.
My Special Day
The Parasha that I leyned on my Bar Mitzvah day was Parashat Tazria. This Parasha talks about the cleanliness and rituals to be followed when a baby is born. The disease of leprosy is mentioned; not only will it make patches that show up on your skin, but also on your house and items inside it. It says that you catch this disease by speaking lashon hara and it can only be treated by a Kohen. I was honoured to do my Bar Mitzvah at Hampstead Shul and it was an experience I will never forget and will cherish all my life.
I had seen my elder sisters Lucy and Amy being Bat Mitzvah at Hampstead Shul and attended Bat Mitzvah classes with my Mum, Thea, so I thought I knew what to expect. But nothing could prepare me for such a beautiful and memorable Bat Mitzvah Shabbat. In Shul, Rabbi Michael addressed me in front of the whole congregation and I shall never forget his words. Throughout the service, Chazan Shlomo sang beautifully. For me the highlight of Parasha Pinchas was the story of the daughters of Tzelafchad and I was really thinking of my sisters when I talked about them. I also spoke about the difficult passages involving Pinchas, concluding that we should make every effort at all times to act like Aaron in pursuing peace. I then discussed Moshe who, although he did not enter the Promised Land, did climb up Mount Avarim to view it. Moshe also appoints Joshua as the new leader so that as Moshe says, the Israelites “would not be like sheep without a shepherd”. In the Parasha there are a lot of mentions of tribes and family. It seemed to me that there was a connection between the importance given to the family all those years ago; the importance of being with so many in the Hampstead Community and all those friends and family who travelled from near and very far to be at my Bat Mitzvah. To be with them, in particular, my grandparents Rose and Lou Abrams and Arza and Ben Helfgott was very special. I enjoyed every moment and will never forget it.
As I started learning from my Bar Mitzvah Parasha Shoftim, I realised that it had a lot of laws about government, judges, rules and testimony and I thought about the talk that Henry Grunwald had given us at Hampstead Synagogue at a youth Shabbaton, it all made sense. We are told at the beginning of the Parasha ‘tzedek, tzedek, tirdof’- ‘Righteousness, righteousness shall you pursue, so that you will live and possess the land that Hashem your God gives you’. Ibn Ezra explains that here ‘Tzedek’ is repeated twice for emphasis, to underscore and strengthen the message. Hashem is asking us to seek out and live just and righteous lives. Rabbi Bunam of P’shis’cha explains that it is not enough to seek righteousness, it must be done through honest means. My parasha has also a strong connection to the upcoming Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur High Holidays. As we stand before Hashem we are asking for forgiveness in front of our Judge. There is strong message in Shoftim, when we are told that the King needs two Sifrei Torah. Rashi explains that the first Sefer Torah would remain in his treasury while the other one will be with him at all times. Why is that necessary? These scrolls are to remind him that whatever his position may be he is a servant of the Torah. This is something which, as a Bar Mitzvah boy, will stay with me. I hope to keep the principles of the Torah close to me. I thank my parents, grandma Mimi, my family and friends, Rabbi Harris, Chazan Shlomo, the Hampstead Community and my teacher Michael for all their help and support in preparation of my Bar Mitzvah. I am particularly grateful to my late grandparents, Michael & Judith Abram, ZL’ and Dan Elbaz ZL’ for showing my siblings and me the way to pursue righteousness.