Mitzvah

How to Create a "Green" Bar/Bat Mitzvah and Ensure All Rites of Passage Are Kind to the Environment

Spirituality is When Learning Leads to Meaningful Action

The environmental impact of your rite of passage, celebration and even your thank you notes is worthy of serious consideration since there are lots of ways to have a wonderful bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah while also being gentle on the environment. Here's how:

What Is Torah Trope?

Trope is the term for the notation system for chanting Torah. Trope are symbols for when to pause and where to stop in the Torah reading. They each have a different set of associated notes and when strung together become the chant for a given portion. The technical term for trope is Ta'amei haMikra, "the flavor of the reading."

Jewish Death and Dying: Prayer for Hearing of a Death

When we hear someone has died, we need a way to express ourselves. Jewish tradition provides a very powerful and brief sacred phrase: baruch dayan ha'emet (pronounced bah-rukh, dah-yahn, hah'eh-meht). This phrase seems to be the bare minimum of a blessing, truncated from our usual blessing form, as many as twelve terms short*; cut down, as has been a life.

What does this phrase mean?

Links to Mitzvah Project Opportunities

Bmitzvah.org: B Mitzvah! The Bar and Bat Mitzvah (R)evolution continues

The following organizations offer solid mitzvah project opportunities:

Jewish Coalition for Service: Umbrella agency for social action volunteer service opportunities around the world. http://werepair.org/

Areyvut.
Trains and partners teachers and schools in how to do social action, also lists many ideas and methods for mitzvah projects. Areyvut.org


Ziv Tzedekah Fund: Danny Siegel’s many mitzvah ideas, books efforts and the Stick Your Neck Out! Curriculum for schools are highlighted here. Ziv.org

Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger is dedicated to supporting soup kitchens and food pantries; many families give about 3% of B-Mitzvah party costs to this effort. Mazon.org

Creating a Family Learning Trip During the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Year

Mark:  "It seems my mother thought that the best way for me to experience my pre-Bar Mitzvah was by being stranded on a boat, floating away from civilization while practicing for the big day.

And although surviving without an internet connection, phone communication, cable television, and other necessities, all in all it was the motivation I needed to sit down and learn my Bar Mitzvah readings.

The Gift of Hevruta: Studying Your Torah Portion with a Friend

Bmitzvah.org: B Mitzvah! The Bar and Bat Mitzvah (R)evolution continues

One of the greatest joys of life is the experience called hevruta. The root of hevruta is the word haver "friend." Our sages said: "Take yourself a friend, go and study." Simple  yes, and there are a few guidelines that make the experience safe and a bit more profound.

The "And" method. This kind of study is collaborate, additive and non-competitive. Each person’s insights are honored, supported and treasured by the other. You are going on a Torah adventure together. When you have a different insight from your friend you express this by first empathizing with what s/he said.

Meaningful Bar/Bat Mitzvah Themes

Bmitzvah.org: B Mitzvah! The Bar and Bat Mitzvah (R)evolution continues

We’re not talking about the fabled (we hope) family who had each table and food station designated as a different department store chain as though a B-Mitzvah were some kind of celebration of North American retail business. There’s a powerful world of stimulating themes right inside of your planning, self-assessment and d’var Torah preparation processes. Your selection of themes necessarily precedes the ordering of invitations, selection of music, design for centerpieces and the like. Here are some examples:

What is Torah? How is a Torah Made?

Bmitzvah.org: B Mitzvah! The Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah (R)evolution continues

The Torah is not what it seems to be. It is much more than a collection of bible stories. Torah is the foundation text of Judaism, one of the most ancient of wisdom traditions. Torah is the sacred meeting place of the generations. It is where we dialogue, dance and wrestle with our ancestors’ visions and formulate our own. Yes, Torah is a place to find and make meaning. The meaning is often hidden, buried inside the text and inside of you.

Torah technically means the scroll, which contains the first five books of the bible, also called a Humash, from the Hebrew word for five. Jews do not appreciate the term Old Testament and consider it a put down. We more often use the word Torah, from a Hebrew root from archery instruction meaning "giving direction." Torah can also to refer to the entire Jewish bible which is also called Tanakh (T= Torah, N= Neviim, prophets, KH= ketuvim which includes books such as Job, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, Psalms and many more) and Torah study also refers to the whole body of Jewish law and teachings (Talmud, Mishna, Midrash, Zohar, Codes, Responsa, etc.)

Parent Bar/Bat Mitzvah Preparation Rituals

As the parent(s)/guardian(s) of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah student become known to their peers in religious school, or through another context, it becomes clear that this experience is an initiation for them too, into being parents of a(nother) teenager, an evolving adult. This is a season of new parenting skills and perspectives.

One community of which I am aware holds a session of Bar/Bat Mitzvah prep where the parent(s) aren’t present so that the youth can outline any concerns that have been repressed. At such a session an assignment is planned for the parent(s)/guardian(s) that will help them prepare for the B-mitzvah day.

A Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah Student Pre-Initiation Ritual

B-Mitzvah (R)evolution

Beginning to face life as a Jewish adult requires life skills, as well as ritual capabilities. The ability to face the darkness and listen for meaning while being supported and trusted by your elders to be able to make it, does lurk in the B-mitzvah process, in so far as our children are learning how to listen for the Torah as it applies to life.

It also helps to create something that helps frame the transition in stage of life. This might be a pre-b-mitzvah gathering to be held outdoors, perhaps with a bonfire.