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B'nei Mitzvah Protocols

Dear B Mitzvah families,

We hope you are all safe and well, and we appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate these uncertain times. Our hearts are with you during this incredibly challenging time. Just as you were preparing to celebrate a family simcha, everything has been turned upside down. As the Yiddish phrase says, “Man plans and God laughs.” We understand how many of your hopes and dreams for your celebrations have been put on hold. We are with you in the sadness that this moment brings, and we are prayerful that we may return to our campus safely at a future date and celebrate together!

In the meantime, we have put together options, FAQs, and protocols for holding B Mitzvah services at University Synagogue. These guidelines are not only informed by the standards and protocols established by the CDC, the California and Los Angeles Departments of Health, but also, by the ethical guidelines of our Jewish tradition that place the preservation of human life (pikuach nefesh) as the most essential of values.

As you are well aware the circumstances surrounding the COVID pandemic are continually evolving.  Health department protocols often change from one day to the next.  It is, therefore, important to note that the UniSyn protocols noted below may also change in order to comply with the current mandates of the California and Los Angeles Departments of Health.


The Reopening Task Force, University Synagogue

Service Options

*These protocols will resume if and when we are able to reconvene in-person services.  In recognition of the current health emergency in Los Angeles county we are currently not holding any in-person b or mitzvah services. Until further notice all b mitzvah observances will be held online. When the health emergency eases we will consider reconvening small outdoor gatherings.

  1. In-person attendance will be limited to only people living full time under the same roof of the B mitzvah child. No exceptions


  1. All attendees must sign University Synagogue COVID 19 Waiver. (See addendum).
  2. We require all attendees to have a COVID test 72 hours previous to the service. If an attendee receives a positive result they may not attend. Negative test results should be shared with clergy previous to the service.
  3. All attendees are asked to conduct a self-check before departing for University Synagogue.
    1. If you have a fever you will not be permitted on the University Synagogue property.
    2. If you are not feeling well, you are asked to remain home.
  4. We strongly urge those who fall into high-risk categories (over the age of 60, with pre-existing health conditions) to protect themselves by staying home.
  5. Attendees are to arrive at University Synagogue at their designated time.
  6. The temperature will be taken of all individuals upon entering the University Synagogue property.
    1. Those with a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or above will be asked to leave immediately.
  7. N-95 masks must be worn at all times upon entering University Synagogue grounds for the b mitzvah services.
    1. Any person who does not comply with wearing an N-95 face mask on University Synagogue property will be asked to leave immediately.
  8. All attendees must sanitize hands upon entry.
  9. All attendees must follow marked directional paths entering and leaving the premises.


  1. Seating: Attendees are to go directly to their assigned seating location and remain in that seating location unless using the restroom.
    1. Attendees must not move chairs from their allotted spaces.
  2. All attendees are required to observe physical distancing guidelines
    1. remaining at least 6 feet away from all individuals not of their household.
    2. Hugging and shaking hands are not permitted.
  3.  Current health guidelines do not permit out loud congregational singing or reading indoors. 
  4. Restrooms
    1. Signs and marked pathways will lead attendees to and from the designated, single-use, adult bathroom in the Early Childhood Learning Center.
    2. Attendees are asked not to wait at the restroom if it is occupied.
    3. Before leaving the restroom attendees must use sanitizers to wipe down the toilet seat and sink.
    4. Attendees must wash hands before and after using the facilities.
    5. The bathroom attendant will make sure that an appropriate amount of time has passed between each use and will ensure that there is an appropriate amount of time between each use.
  5.  As of 1/13/21, photography will not be permitted on site. We hope to return to the previous guidelines as noted below once our LA County numbers drop.

(previous Photography guidelines A. The family may meet on the synagogue bimah in the Kopelson Family Sanctuary with only the members of the family who reside together in one family dwelling, i.e. parent(s) and siblings in most cases. B. All family members must wear a mask during indoor photography at all times, including while photographs are taken, and the photographer must always wear a mask. C. The time for the photography shoot is limited to 30 minutes and must take place one hour prior to the service start time to allow for adequate time for the family members to be in their seats before the service. D. A photography session will be allowed to occur on an alternate day during regular business hours if an appointment is made with the clergy assistant. E. All photography sessions will be monitored by either a security guard or an administrative staff person. F. The family is permitted to take outdoor pictures only on the side patio which is connected to the Sanctuary and accessed by the exit doors closest to the bimah.  In this space only, Family members who reside together in one family dwelling, i.e. parent(s) and siblings may remove masks for the photos (outdoor photographs only), adhering to the same time frame as mentioned above. (Photographer must always wear a mask) G. In Ruby Garden, if a photographer is hired, they must remain at a tripod set up at the back of Ruby Garden and distanced from the Sound Professionals, guests, and staff and must always wear a mask.  This person must be included in the final allowable guest count. H. If a photographer is hired they must also sign the COVID waiver found at the end of the bar/bat mitzvah protocols document.)


  1.  At the conclusion of the service, attendees are to remain in their assigned areas until dismissed to their vehicles.
  2.  Upon dismissal, attendees must return to cars and exit the University Synagogue property.
    1. There will be no formal or informal social gatherings on the University Synagogue property.
  3.  Failure to comply with any of these guidelines may lead to the discontinuance of the service.


Again, we understand how incredibly difficult and challenging this moment is for you.  It is a moment that you have been thinking about and planning for, for many years.  Our hearts ache with yours.  We, too, want nothing more than to be able to safely celebrate with you in our beautiful sanctuary.  We pray that day may come soon!


The Reopening Task Force, University Synagogue 




Every Shabbat has a different Torah portion. However, no student will be required to learn a new portion when changing a date. Rescheduled dates will have their own memorable narrative but children will keep their original assigned Torah portions once they have learned them.


What happens when my child finishes tutoring and there are many weeks/months between now and the big day?

Students should continue to practice periodically, to maintain mastery of what has been learned. Cantor Shapiro will circle back to your child a month before the service to review.


Will the clergy lead a Shabbat Morning service outside of University Synagogue?

The clergy and professional team are following guidelines in support of public health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Just as soon as we can safely gather the community back in groups and sing and pray together, we will join together in University Synagogue’s Kopelson Family Sanctuary and Gray Family Chapel for prayer services. The clergy are not able to offer private services during the time we are asked to practice social distancing. 


Will we be serving food at University Synagogue when the synagogue opens?

At the current time, no food or beverages will be served at University Synagogue. Guidelines around foodservice and receptions will be formed as soon as we understand the trajectory of COVID-19 public health precautions. We are very eager to resume our joyous celebrations. We will know more about those guidelines as time goes on, and we can keep you posted when we learn.


Will I still be able to have a celebration, Shabbat Dinner, or Kiddush Luncheon at University Synagogue?

Once we know more about the guidelines for celebrations and foodservice, Bonnie Kebre, our Facilities Coordinator, will be ready to help you make your new event amazing. When we are open again, Bonnie will be your point person for ideas, plans, and questions about your celebration. You can reach her at

Wed, January 20 2021 7 Shevat 5781