We are thrilled that you have been asked to receive a Torah Aliyah in honor of one of our students becoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah. We ask that you read this brief set of instructions, and hope they will be helpful to you in preparing to participate with us. If you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call.
WHAT IS AN ALIYAH ? Aliyah means "going up." It refers to the honor of going up to the sanctuary bimah (the space from which a service is led) to participate in one of our worship rituals. A Torah aliyah is different from most other bimah opportunities because there are requirements regarding who may participate, and there is some preparation as well.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN THAT I AM BEING GIVEN A TORAH ALIYAH ? Quite simply, it means you have been asked to recite the blessings before and after the reading of the Torah. You may be doing this alone, or with one or more additional people; ask if you’re not sure.
WHO MAY RECEIVE A TORAH ALIYAH ? Just as with one who reads from the Torah, the person who recites the Torah blessings must be Jewish and at least 13 years of age.
WHAT DO I NEED TO PREPARE IN ADVANCE? It is an honor to be asked to recite these blessings, and their recitation should be done with respect and with care. We have provided you with the text of the blessings, both in Hebrew and in transliteration. You would do well to ask the Bar/Bat Mitzvah to listen to you practice; this will provide you with excellent feedback on how to do the blessings properly.
WHAT DO I DO DURING THE SERVICE? For the most part, sit and enjoy. Participate by reading and singing. After all, it’s Shabbat ... time to celebrate the creation of the world! When the Torah Service begins, those who have been asked to receive a Torah aliyah will be called at the appropriate time. When your name has been called, move immediately to the bimah . Recite the first blessing (we will have a copy of the Hebrew and transliteration waiting for you), and stay close to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah to enjoy the Torah reading. Then recite the second blessing, give the Bar/Bat Mitzvah a hug and a kiss, then you may return to your seat.
DO I NEED A KIPAH OR TALLIT ? At Kol Ami, each of us is free to decide what ritual clothing we wish to wear or not wear. While we certainly encourage you to wear a kipah (headcovering) or tallit (prayershawl), we absolutely support your right to decide for yourself.
WHAT IF TWO OR MORE OF US WILL RECEIVE A TORAH ALIYAH ? It is a joyful gathering when two or more people join together for Torah blessings. Please remember to practice together before the service begins; this will help you avoid any group awkwardness during the recitation from the bimah . It is also important to remember that this is a significant ritual moment; please refrain from unnecessary conversation, both as you gather on the bimah and especially while the Bar/Bat Mitzvah is reading from the Torah. (Adapted from text of Woodlands Community Temple web site.)
THE FIRST BLESSING You recite: Bar-khu et Adonai ham-vo-rakh. Congregation responds: Ba-rukh Adonai ham-vo-rakh l’o-lam va-ed. You recite: Ba-rukh Adonai ham-vo-rakh l’o-lam va-ed. Ba-rukh a-ta Adonai, e-lo-hey-nu me-lekh ha-o-lam, a-sher ba-khar ba-nu mee-kol ha-a-meem v’na-tan la-nu et To-ra-to. Ba-rukh a-ta Adonai no-tayn ha-To-rah.
[Translation: Let us praise God, the Blessed One. Praised is God, the eternally Blessed One. Praised are You, O God, Creator of the Universe, who has chosen us from among the peoples to receive Your Torah. Praised are You, O God, Giver of the Torah.]
THE SECOND BLESSING You recite: Barukh ata Adonai, elohaynu melekh haolam, asher natan lanu Torat emet v’khayay olam nata b’tokhaynu. Barukh ata Adonai notayn haTorah.
[Translation: Praised are You, O God, Creator of the Universe, Who has given us a Torah of truth and has implanted within us eternal life. Praise are You, O God, Giver of the Torah.]