Today, when you hear about Bar and Bat Mitzvot, what you really learn is all about the parties. Very few students discuss how accurately they read their Torah portions or chant their haftarot. Can you blame them? Teens are deeply involved with their social lives and our present generation has so many social media tools available to share their party experiences with each other and keep the memories of these events alive forever on the internet.
The goal of our B’nai Mitzvah Program is to acknowledge this reality and to add a vital layer of engagement tailored to our student’s interests. At Adath Israel, we have formed a B’nai Mitzvah Club [AIC BMC] which meets weekly from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and includes dinner. This is followed by two 40 minutes sessions with a 10-minute break in between.
We have developed sessions that are experientially based using videos and speakers to prompt an interactive discussion. In addition to having students find their Torah portions in the scroll itself and write the opening paragraphs of their Divrei Torah, students learn about Jewish poverty in Toronto with representatives from Ve’ahavta, debate how to use some of their gift money for tzedakah and learn how Shabbat solves many problems of an over-wired world and a great deal more. The young men and women also learn how Jews throughout the world celebrate Bar and Bat Mitzvot, some of the history of each ceremony and where the idea of a party came from and why.
Parents are invited to selected sessions and everyone participates in a final Friday night Shabbat dinner. This final event features an authentic traditional Shabbat experience and is used as an opportunity for discussing Shabbat’s key role in home life.
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