Teachings: Bar And Bat Mitzvah

How to Write a Note for a Gift

The B-Mitzvah (R)evolution

The following is a sample gift letter we sent to a cousin who happened to be inter-marrying so it also feels good to give in honor of the wedding to a Jewish cause which is doing non-sectarian relief work....global tikkun olam!

Dear Ones:

We welcome you as a new couple to our family!

It is a Jewish tradition to add blessing to a couples life, on the event of their marriage, by giving a gift of tzedakah (a donation which consciously changes someone else's situation) in their honor.

What Age for Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah?

B-Mitzvah (R)evolution

Parenting Today

What Age Bar Mitzvah? What Age Bat Mitzvah?

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

Please don’t undertake a Bar/bat mitzvah process of learning and planning a ritual and celebration just because everyone else is doing it, or because of parental or communal pressure. It is right to undertake Bar/bat mitzvah when one is developmentally willing, curious, and has the time to learn new things about being Jewish and about oneself.

Creating a Meaningful Dvar Torah

Giving over meaningful guidance on the Torah portion during a religious service is not so much a speech as it is a mitzvah, a sacred act called “giving a d’var Torah.” A d’var, “a word” of Torah, is a brief teaching where you connect your Torah portion with the heart, mind and spirit of those present. Israelis often refer to this practice as a derasha, or drash, an “explanation” of the Torah portion.

Interview Method of Dv'ar Torah Preparation with a Student

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

Interview of Bar Mitzvah student as a Torah study process. Note: With an exceptionally anxious student this can be a helpful way to actually give a scripted Torah teaching on the day of Bar/Bat Mitzvah, both of you up there doing this dialogue together.

Rabbi: What did you learn in this portion that surprised you?

Kevin:  First, Noah didn't even challenge God's decision to destroy civilization.

What Can We Learn from B'nei Mitzvah Past?

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

A Jew from Yemen once told me how he celebrated his Bar Mitzvah back in the land of his birth. What left an indelible impression on him was staying up all the previous night with his grandfather, and together reciting the entire Book of Psalms. Submitted by Rabbi Monty Eliasov, Austin, TX

Beth Ornstein was bat mitzvah in 2002. "This has been the best year of my life. I really worked hard, and everyone had a great time. My grandmother came from England, she’s 84. I was so happy to see her." Beth has a book of pictures and memorabilia she’d created from the event, it was bursting with masks and every note sent back to indicate attendance had a blessing on it. That it seems, was her teacher’s idea. "She taught us to make the return cards a spiritual message to lift each other’s spirits on the path to bat mitzvah. That works, you know!" What about the masks? "My bat mitzvah as around Purim time. I researched every midrash I could find about Queen Esther and wrote one of my own. I asked my friends to write midrashim (story commentaries) as presents for me, a few really did! They read their at the party and then they surprised me with a skit about Queen Vashti. Then everyone sang the Esther song, even the stodgiest people in our family got into the spirit of it. It was a day to remember!"

The Flame: Why Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah Is Not about Your Birthday

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

    The flame is a primary Jewish metaphor for the soul. Judaism enjoins us to be careful lest we put out the flame of someone's soul through careless or deliberate words or acts. So a few decades back, when, unfortunately, a Christian caterer started the idea of a candle-lighting ceremony for bar/bat mitzvah parties,

Grandpa Sam's Miserable Bar Mitzvah: A Cautionary Tale

The B-Mitzvah (R)evolution

Reb Goldie here. My dad called today, he’s 82 years old and one of my greatest sources of inspiration and wisdom. "So, Goldie. I hear you are working on a bar mitzvah revolution. Did I ever tell you about my bar mitzvah?"

Oddly, he hadn’t. In fact none of the elders in the family ever had. I bade him go on.

"I used to go to Talmud Torah, (religious instruction) between 3rd and 4th on Catherine Street in South Philadelphia. Mr Zentner was the principal of the school. It was an after school thing during Junior High.

Understanding & Appreciating the Jewish Calendar

What are the blackout dates for Jewish rites of passage?

For those scheduling Jewish life cycle ceremonies there are hundreds of available dates as well as a number of black-out dates when rites cannot be held.

Four Approaches to Bar/Bat Mitzvah

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

Option #1: Congregational

Today, a classic B-mitzvah ritual is one at which the student symbolically reveals Jewish life skills by chanting from the Torah scroll and then offering an inspiring interpretation of the weekly Torah portion during a religious service. Congregations often have additional expectations of the B-mitzvah student, such as chanting from the prophets, wearing of a kippah (scull cap), tallit (prayer shawl) and, on weekdays, tefillin (meditation boxes with straps), as well as lighting Shabbat candles, leading parts of a Shabbat, Monday or Thursday service, regular service attendance, and organizing a social action initiative to help others materially or physically. Some communities reserve some of these elements for males only. Many congregations welcome innovation and creativity by the student in formulating the ritual. Be sure not to assume local norms; bring your questions to the presiding rabbi or cantor.

Healthy Integration of the Sad with the Glad

How to include the memory of loved ones during happy rites of passage

A challenging point in weddings, b'nei mitzvah and baby namings can be the absence of loved ones recently deceased, who are too far off to be able to attend, who are doing military service, or who can’t be present for other reasons. What to do?

• You can have the person leading the rite invoke the absent one’s memory/honor early on, if you wish; immediately after the opening verses of song, psalm or prayer is generally a good spot for this.

What is a Tallit? What do the Fringes Mean? And a Ritual for Tying the Knots

The B-Mitzvah (R)evolution

Tallit as a Jewish spiritual practice is derived from a verse in the Torah: “God told Moses ‘Speak to the children of Israel, and guided them throughout their generations to make fringes on the corners of their garments.'" [Numbers 15:37-40]

Finding Meaning in Your Torah Portion

FINDING MEANING IN YOUR TORAH PORTION from Make Your Own Bar/Bat Mitzvah: A Personal Approach to Creating a Meaningful Rite of Passage (Jossey-Bass Publishing) by Rabbi Goldie Milgram

Pre-Bar/Bat Mitzvah Rituals: The Educators' Blessing

The B-Mitzvah (R)evolution

"There’s one week to go before your bat mitzvah. Let’s do something when I come over, can I surprise you? Pack some sun screen and a bottle of water, we’ll have a little adventure together."

The bat mitzvah girl was very psyched by the idea, her folks didn’t let on that I’d cleared the mystery trip with them in advance.

We found a spot beside a river dotted with butterfly bushes. Perfect. She helped me neatly set out a colorful tarp and I placed upon it a Miriam’s cup into which we poured a small flask of spring water and a hamsa, a middle eastern symbol for good fortune.

While she watched, with ceremonial consciousness, I traded my every day kippah for the embroidered white one she saw me wearing often at high holiday services, weddings and B-mitzvahs.

Introduction to Tefillin and How to Put Them On

How are Tefiillin made?

Tefillin are a set of two leather boxes filled with parchments on which a scribe has written specific verses from the Torah, then attached the boxes to leather straps, each knotted so that one can go around your head and one around your weaker [non-dominant] arm. It is quite complex to make Tefiillin, and one is best served by buying good quality ones made by a scribe. The term tefillin (Aramaic) shares the root of tefillah, prayer.

Sample Chapter: Characteristics of a Memorable Dvar Torah

Characteristics of a Memorable B-Mitzvah D’var Torah (From Make Your Own Bar/Bat Mitzvah: A Personal Approach to Creating a Meaningful Rite of Passage by Rabbi Goldie Milgram)

A memorable B-Mitzvah d’var Torah

•     Helps those present to connect some aspect(s) of the Torah portion to their own lives

•    Touches on something in your life that is likely to have happened in the lives of others in the room

The Importance of Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah Students Knowing Themselves

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

B-mitzvah is a time to let your talents shine. ALL of your talents and skills will likely be relevant to this phase of your life in some way. On the day of the B-mitzvah, the guests are coming to experience Shabbat, Torah, family and celebration through the lens of WHO the student is. So since B-Mitzvah includes a substantial period of being “in training,” it is a good time to do a self assessment. The information gleaned will help with setting up goals and challenges for yourself so that you will stretch toward your potential in some areas, and best utilize your superior talents in others.

What Age B-mitzvah?

B-Mitzvah (R)evolution: Age considerations for bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah

Technically, one becomes B-mitzvah simply by turning thirteen, even if no formal ritual or celebration or celebration is involved. Accordingly, it is neither an obligation nor an emergency to hold an official rite of passage in adolescence. While many do so starting at age twelve for girls, and thirteen for boys, a public B-mitzvah rite is viable at any age.