Dear Parents and B’nei Mitzvah Candidates,
While talking with the B’nei Mitzvah (becoming of age) students, we have learned that many of our students view their Bar or Bat Mitzvah as a single event, the emergence into Jewish adulthood. Indeed, from a halachic perspective, the Bar Mitzvah marks the age in which a boy may assume the responsibilities of Jewish adulthood. Bat Mitzvah is only observed by the Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist movements. Yet, the B’nei Mitzvah is much more than a lifecycle doorway into adulthood.
Beit Luria synagogue encourages our students to continue in the Jewish tradition of establishing an ongoing dialogue with our sacred texts and our history while helping them to create a path for our collective future. Our students will have the opportunity to experience the joy and awe of leading our congregation in prayer and in the reading of Torah. We ask our students to develop a lesson from their Torah portion that will enlighten the congregation and give the student the opportunity to reflect on their own lives in a Jewish context.
We want to give our children a religious education within the Progressive tradition with an emphasis on our core values of ethics, tolerance and gender equality.
Bar/Bat Mitzvah is a Community Observance. It is not by coincidence that we choose to hold this initiation ceremony in public. To be a Jew means to live within a covenantal relationship-not only with G-d but with other Jews as well. Bar/bat mitzvah marks the transition from childhood to a fully- fledged member of the community.
The awarding of an aliyah, (“being called to the Torah”), is a gift of the Jewish people. We want our children to understand the values of inclusiveness and creativity, and the understanding that Judaism is dynamic including both tradition and innovation.
The course will encourage children to think of the true meaning of becoming Bar/ Bat Mitzvah.
- What are our responsibilities in Jewish Adulthood?
- What does it mean to be a Progressive Jew?
- We will learn about different movements in Judaism.
- What are secular Jews and religious Jews?
- What different streams of religious Jews are there?
· What do these groups share in common and what differentiates them?
- Students will study prayers that will allow them to take an active part in the Shabbat Evening and Morning Service. We are encouraging our children to lead parts of the services in the months before their ceremony in preparation for their bar/bat mitzvah service
- We will learn the Havdalah ceremony, the Kiddush for Friday night and Shabbat morning and some other core prayers and blessings
- Main Shabbat prayers, Shema and its blessings, Amidah, Aleinu and Kaddish.
- Blessings for the Torah and the Haftarah
- Students will learn to read the Hebrew text of their parashah and understand the content of this Torah portion. Practical Torah reading skills are important. Students will be offered the facility to practice reading from the Torah scroll which they will use for their ceremony.
- We will learn and discuss the key stories in the bible, for example Creation of the world, The Garden of Eden, the stories of the matriarchs and patriarchs, the narrative of Egypt and the receiving of the Torah at Sinai.
- Before each festival, we will look at the sources for a given holiday. We will look at the customs and practices of the holidays as well as the historical origins of the holiday. We will also tie in the holidays to our own lives making the ancient customs come alive through personal relevance and experience. At their ceremony, they will present a commentary on their portion.
- Bar/ Bat Mitzvah Project:
Having a Bar or Bat Mitzvah is not just about the day in shul, but about taking responsibility as a Jewish adult for all the mitzvot of Jewish life and for Tikkun Olam, repairing the world that we live in. We want to encourage your child to choose a Mitzvah that he/ she would like to do in the wider community, something that will make our community a better place for all. It could be volunteering, collecting money or goods, sharing time, energy or skills in any project that helps to fix our community. It can be a project of twinning with the Holocaust museum. There are many ideas that can be discussed with our Rabbi.
Progressive Judaism believes that men and women are regarded equally in the synagogue and as such we expect both Bar and Bat Mitzvah candidates to wear a tallit, as it says ‘God said to Moses as follows: Speak to the Israelite people and instruct them to make for themselves fringes on the corners of their garments throughout the ages; let them attach a cord of blue to the fringe at each corner. That shall be your fringe; look at it and recall all the commandments of God and observe them.’ Numbers 15:37 – 39