Teachings: Bar And Bat Mitzvah

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.

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.

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

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.

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

Working with a Challenging Student: Bar Mitzvah Special Education

B-Mitzvah (R)evolution

In this narrative, Heftsi Assaf, an attention deficit disorder specialist with a great love and skill in bar/t mitzvah tutoring, shares her inner thoughts and ways of working with a challenging student.

When I first met Natan’s mother, she told me that he was a very special kid. I didn't think it was out of the ordinary, most parents think that their kids are special. Especially when I meet with them the first time (and after) they can become very protective when the student struggles between doing his or her homework and preparing for their Bar/t Mitzvah [b-mitzvah from here-on]. In addition, I deal with parents projecting their own "experience" growing up and having to go to Sunday or religious school onto what it will be like today. Furthermore, they also worry the experience will be like what they had during their own B’nei Mitzvah years. So, parents, at times, seem to already have the curriculum for their child even before they met me.

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.

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.

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.)

Example of Group Aliyah Themes for Parsha Toldot: Bar Mitzvah of Aaron Roffman

B-Mitzvah (R)evolution

Aaron Roffman's family wanted to give a gift to their synagogue on the occasion of his Bar Mitzvah. What a surprise when they called and asked me to be scholar-in-residence during his B-mitzvah weekend! Aaron and I led services together and after we met he decided to turn his B-mitzvah speech turned into group aliyot.

Sample Chapter: What is the Pardes Method of Torah Study and Dvar Torah Creation

Sample Chapter: The Four Dimensions of Torah Study and Dvar Torah Creation, the PaRDeS Model
from Make Your Own Bar/Bat Mitzvah: A Personal Approach to Creating a Meaningful Rite of Passage by Rabbi Goldie Milgram (Jossey-Bass Publishing)

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:

Guidelines for Setting a Date and Time for a Jewish Rite of Passage

Guidelines for Setting a Date and Time for a Jewish Rite of Passage

Finding Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah Tutors Who Can Be Real Mentors

The B-Mitzvah (R)evolution

For this to be a meaningful rite of passage, youth need something more than tutors who help with memorizing how to chant Torah and prayers; meaning-making mentors can be life-saving relationships. Mentors don’t have to be experts in the tradition, although your tutor might also be a perfect mentor, that's for you to say after reading this article. The best mentors love their lives and their connection to Judaism. A good mentor might be a great cook, artist, journalist, or doctor who is deeply, organically connected to living as a Jew in his or her own way. Who relates to Judaism and life in ways you truly admire? Might they be willing to mentor for your bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah process?

Three Types of Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah

Types of Bar/Bat Mitzvah: Options

There are a number of B-mitzvah rites and study settings:

Option#1: Congregational