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Help! I need a Rent-a-Rabbi!

Updated: Mar 12, 2020

Oy - I am not a fan of the term "Rent-a-Rabbi". But I do want to help you.

So tell me, is this you?

“I don’t belong to a Temple but we'd like him to have a Bar Mitzvah.”

“My kid has never been to Hebrew School.”

“She went to Religious School through Kindergarten.”

“We tried lots of Temples – none were a good fit.”

“We’d like to have the Bar Mitzvah service in the same place as the party.”

“We’re not very religious.”

“How do I do a Bat Mitzvah without a Temple?”

I hear you. I know you. I can help you.

But first, here are the questions you need to ask.

1. References: Oy, oy, oy! Of course you need to find out about your Bar Mitzvah Rabbi! In my opinion you really should ask for references before hiring a cantor or rabbi for your child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah.

But what should I ask?

Start here....

· Was the clergy person organized?

· Did she/he respond quickly to calls or texts?

· Was the clergy person’s schedule flexible?

· Was the service joyous? Serious? Long? Short? Beautiful? Spiritual?

2. Torah: I imagine most people don't have access to a Torah. So ask - does the Bat Mitzvah cantor or rabbi have access to a full-size Torah for the service? Believe me - you don't want your child reading from one of those mini-Torahs! And one more thing - Does the Torah come with an ark? What does it look like? How much does it cost?

3. Prayerbooks: Do you know that it is illegal to make copies from a published prayer book? Does the cantor or rabbi own prayer books or work with a printer to provide legal copies of prayer books for the service?

4. Flexibility: Does the Bar Mitzvah cantor or rabbi have strict rules about what your child will do at the Bar or Bat Mitzvah service or is the learning centered around the child? Finding out the clergy person’s parameters ahead of time will make for smoother preparation.

5. Experience and Expertise: Is the person even Ordained? How much experience does the clergy person have with private Bar and Bat Mitzvah?

6. THE SERVICE: How long is the service? Does the cantor or rabbi sing and play the guitar? Can the cantor/rabbi bring other musicians to the service like keyboard and percussion?

7. And last but not least - COST: Like anything else, there are some clergy who charge less and some more, and you always get what you pay for. So you will need to decided whether all the above questions are important to you and how much getting the right person is worth. If your child is receiving the very best guidance and support, if the service will be everything you ever dreamed, if having someone with years of experience who brings joy and love to your family celebration, then it's so worth paying more.

Finding the right clergy person for your child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah is so very important. It can make the difference between a having a stressful experience and a truly joyous and spiritual experience.

When you’re ready, write me an email ( or shoot me a text (917-837-0925). But most important – ask me the questions! I’m ready to say yes to you and be your Rabbi as your child becomes a Bar or Bat Mitzvah.

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