Please enable JavaScript in your browser to experience all the custom features of our site.

Mr. Harry Skydell, Chairman
Mr. Mark Karasick, Vice Chairman
Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, Director
Rabbi Avrohom M. Gluck, Director of Operations
The first 1000 members will have a chance to win a
16 GB
with Rabbi Horowitz audio

Membership Benefits:

  • Save articles to your favorites folder.
  • Save and print selected articles in a PDF journal.
  • Receive emails containing the latest comments on your favorite articles.
  • Mark articles as "READ".
  • More member features coming soon...

Raffle Rules:

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. To enter, complete the signup form and join as a member. Incomplete entries will be disqualified. All entries shall become the property of CJFL. CJFL is not responsible for lost, misdirected or delayed entries.

The contest is open to the general public. Members need to be at least 18 years old. Identification must be produced on request. Employees of CJFL, its raffle sponsor, advertising and promotional agencies and their respective affiliates and associates and such employees' immediate family members and persons with whom such employees are domiciled are excluded from this raffle. ALL PREVIOUSLY REGISTERED MEMBERS WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY ENTERED INTO THIS RAFFLE. The prize is not redeemable in cash and must be accepted as awarded. Decisions of the raffle judges are final - no substitutions will be available. By claiming the prize, the winner authorizes the use, without additional compensation of his or her name and/or likeness (first initial and last name) and municipality of residence for promotion and/or advertising purposes in any manner and in any medium (including without limitation, radio broadcasts, newspapers and other publications and in television or film releases, slides, videotape, distribution over the internet and picture date storage) which CJFL may deem appropriate. In accepting the prize, the winner, acknowledges that CJFL may not be held liable for any loss, damages or injury associated with accepting or using this prize. CJFL retains the rights, in its absolute and sole discretion, to make substitutions of equivalent kind or approximate value in the event of the unavailability of any prize or component of the prize for any reason whatsoever. This contest is subject to all federal, provincial and municipal laws. CJFL reserves the right to withdraw or terminate this raffle at any time without prior notice. One entry per person.

Bar Mitzvah Preparation
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz
Publication: Chicago Community Kollel

Not Rated Yet   |   Viewed 11575 times since 11/2/06   |   0 Comments
Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size    [ Change Font Size ] Email This Article to a Friend


Chicago Community Kollel Interactive Parenting Column #7

Dear Rabbi Horowitz:

Our child is in the process of preparing for his Bar Mitzvah. We are noticing that preparing the laining, Haftorah, Mussaf, and his Pshetel (Bar Mitzvah speech) all take a tremendous amount of time. Although we know that he will be very gratified if he performs well at his Bar Mitzvah, it is distracting him from his schoolwork and his learning at school is suffering. This is causing us to re-think the wisdom of having him spend so many hours preparing for his Bar Mitzvah performance(s).

We also wonder whether making a siyum on a seder of Mishanayos might be more beneficial than preparing to read the parsha.

How do you feel about these issues?

Yosef and Aviva

Rabbi Horowitz Responds

My initial response is that you are correct on both counts. A child’s success in school – especially if he is preparing for his High School entrance exams – is far more important than his performance at his Bar Mitzvah, and completing a seder of mishnayos is probably more valuable than reading one’s Bar Mitzvah parsha.

Having said that, most boys perform well at their Bar Mitzvos. In the process, they acquire enhanced kriah and dikduk skills, and boost their self-confidence as they become aware of their innate abilities. So I would most certainly not recommend eliminating all public performances for Bar Mitzvah boys.

Not knowing your son, and not having any information from his principal/rebbi/teacher, it would normally be difficult for me to give you definitive advice. However, in this case, where the Bar Mitzvah preparation is clearly affecting his schoolwork, you would be well served to seriously consider modifying your Bar Mitzvah plans. You need not cancel all his ‘activities,’ nor should you. but removing some of the workload would probably be a good idea. I would suggest that of the four ‘activities’ that you noted (Laining, Haftorah, Mussaf, and Pshetel), I would eliminate Mussaf first, followed by having him read only part of the parsha instead of the entire reading.

I would also recommend that you review an excellent article on the subject of Bar Mitzvah performances written by my dear chaver Yossi Prager. You can review it online at

An Informal Assessment Tool

To try and help you (and my readers) get a better handle on evaluating how to plan your son’s Bar Mitzvah, I prepared the evaluation form below. Getting an honest read on your child can be a very helpful tool in evaluating his readiness to spend many months preparing for his Bar Mitzvah celebration. (It may also be a good idea for your child to complete this form independently as a form of reflection and self-evaluation.)

Please note that I purposely did not assign acceptable final scores or values for this sheet. I leave that for parents to do. But be aware that for each of these questions, a higher score means that your son may find the Bar Mitzvah preparation and performance stressful. It also may be an indicator that the weeks and months leading up to the Bar Mitzvah may significantly strain your relationship with your son as he enters his vulnerable teenage years. A lower score on this evaluation sheet means that your child will, in all likelihood, enjoy the experience and gain important skills along the way.

I hope that you find this helpful. Best wishes for an enjoyable simcha!!

Yakov Horowitz

Assessing Your Son for Bar Mitzvah ‘Performances’

Academic success

Our son:

  1. does very well in school.

2. does well in school.

  1. is an average student.
  2. is a poor student, whose grades are dropping.
  3. failed many subjects throughout school.


Our son:

1) is eager to prepare for his bar mitzvah.

2) will do what we ask him to do, but is not self-motivated.

3) will reluctantly do what needs to be done – most of the time.

4) is uninterested in preparing for his Bar Mitzvah

5) strongly resents the preparation for his Bar Mitzvah – and says that we are pushing him to do this so we can “show off to the neighbors.”

Learning profile

Our son can best be described as:

  1. loves to learn – spends lots of after-school-hours learning
  2. studious and conscientious.
  3. having average studying habits.
  4. being uninterested in school.
  5. having significant learning disabilities.

Comfort Level in Public

Our son:

  1. loves the limelight.
  2. is OK in the limelight, but does not enjoy it.
  3. is quite shy
  4. is painfully shy


My child is:

  1. mature beyond his years.
  2. average in maturity.
  3. a bit irresponsible.
  4. very irresponsible.

© 2006 Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, all rights reserved

To sign up for Rabbi Horowitz’s weekly emails, please click here.

Reader's Comments:      Rating & Comments Policy      Rate & Write a Comment!
 Average Rating:       Not Rated Yet
Subscribe to this Article
(by subscribing you will receive email notification
when new comments are posted)
There are no comments yet. Click above to write the first comment.
Dear Readers:

Please visit our Parenting Resource listing to learn about agencies and services that you can make use of. If you know of an agency that can be of assistance to others, kindly drop an email to our site administrator at and pass along the information to him.

I ask that you please consider supporting the work we are doing to improve the lives of our children. Click on these links to learn more about our teen and parent mentoring program that serves hundreds of teens and their families, or our KESHER program, now in 20 schools in 4 states. Your financial support can allow us to expand these services and help more children.

If you believe in the governing principles of this website – to help effect positive change through the candid discussions of the real issues we collectively face, please consider becoming a daily, weekly or monthly sponsor of this website and help defray the costs of it’s maintenance.

Working with Families and Educators on Behalf of our Children

This site is managed by The Center for Jewish Family Life, Inc., 56 Briarcliff Drive, Monsey, NY 10952
Project Y.E.S. was founded by Agudath Israel of America
The Center for Jewish Family Life/Project YES - 56 Briarcliff Drive, Monsey, NY 10952 (845) 352-7100 ext. 114 Fax: (845) 352-9593