The BAS Executive Committee would like to take this opportunity to extend good wishes to you and your family on your child’s upcoming bar or bat mitzvah. We know that this is a time of excitement, expectation, and possibly a little bit of anxiety. We, along with the rest of the congregation, want to help make this special moment in your lives runs as smoothly as possible, without any unwanted or unexpected distractions.
This note is about our B’nai Mitzvah chaperone program, in which all our B’nai Mitzvah families participate. In the past, regrettably, we encountered a few difficult situations involving some of our children and their invited guests. In short, we grapple with the age-old issue of good kids making bad decisions – either disrespecting the sanctity of Shabbat and the Bet Am Shalom building and causing real (and costly) damage, or exhibiting questionable judgment and jeopardizing their own safety (such as climbing onto the roof or directing traffic in the middle of Soundview Avenue – yes, these did happen).
To address this situation, several years ago we instituted a chaperone system for Shabbat mornings when there are b’nai mitzvah. The chaperones are drawn from the group of parents who have a child becoming a bar/bat mitzvah in the same half of the calendar year, because we feel that this group will be particularly invested in insuring that our children and guests are safe and respectful during their simchas. We hope you will enjoy helping other families whom you have already gotten to know over the years or more recently in the Rabbi’s mitzvah class. If your assigned chaperoning date precedes your own simcha, you may find it helpful to understand the kinds of things that might arise and conversations that might be worthwhile having with your own children and/or friends.
Bar/bat mitzvah parents will be assigned to be chaperones on a morning when another family in their group has its simcha. On those Shabbat mornings, we will also assign two greeters so that there will be multiple adults to share the responsibilities of greeting and welcoming congregants and guests. It is our hope that this additional supervisory presence will enable you and your family to focus all of your attention and energy on the inherent beauty and joy of the Shabbat morning of your child’s bar/bat mitzvah when your day comes.
If you are unable to be there on your assigned date, we ask that you make arrangements to switch with another family and/or congregant, and let the office know of the change. It is critical that you make these alternative arrangements, as the bar/bat mitzvah family will be counting on you.
- Please arrive by 9:30 AM. Check in with the CSS security volunteers and greeters at the door to the sanctuary.
- Periodically patrol the hallways and bathrooms, upstairs and downstairs, to insure that an appropriate level of decorum is maintained. It’s perfectly acceptable, and encouraged, for older kids to hang around in the nooks and crannies of our building, using Shabbat to quietly socialize and catch up with one another, as long as their behavior is appropriate. Large groups of teens that can get loud, rowdy, and potentially destructive are not acceptable and should be dispersed.
- In nicer weather, walk around the building to make sure that kids are not congregating in the parking lot and/or going out onto the street. While we would like to keep the kids indoors, if they are going out, encourage them to stay in the backyard and out of the parking lot, and to refrain from behavior or excessive noise that would distract worshippers.
- Finally, please help maintain the atmosphere of Shabbat by courteously but firmly reminding teens (and anyone else) you see with a cell phone or other electronic device to turn it off and put it away while they are at Bet Am Shalom. We discourage the use of cell phones for photography, texting, phone calling, or any other purpose on our premises on Shabbat. It’s our custom, and we hope that our guests will respect our custom.
Thank you for your help and cooperation in making other families’ b’nai mitzvah experiences all they are hoping for. Your fellow congregants will be happy to do the same for you – and we all look forward to celebrating with you and your family.
The BAS Executive Committee