A Bat Mitzvah (for a girl, at age 12) or a Bar Mitzvah (for a boy, at age 13) marks the moment they become obligated to participate in the religious community as full adults, and to contribute to passing the traditions of their community on to others. In other words, a Bat/Bar Mitzvah is the moment of their birthdays and the beginning of their obligations. How a child is prepared for this, how it's marked and celebrated, is more complex and has evolved over time. In a community and family where the synagogue and religious life are a daily and weekly part of the family's life, this naturally looks like preparing the child to lead prayer services, chant Torah and Haftorah (The Prophets) and deliver a sermon. In this context, the process serves as a powerful rite of passage - the child engages in a challenging preparation process to learn the skills required for adult participation in the community, demonstrates their mastery of these skills, and then becomes responsible to exercise these adult skills.
Your Personalized Bat/Bar Mitzvah with Rabbi Moshe
Today, families honor and celebrate their Judaism in a wide variety of ways. Therefore, the preparation and commemoration can look very different. The goal remains the same, that is, creating a ceremony which will be meaningful and powerful, challenging the youngster to build skills that will deepen their understanding of their Jewish heritage in the way that their family understands it, as well as equip them with practical skills to practice that tradition and to move closer to being a responsible adult.
I will work with the whole family to create a learning plan, commemoration, and celebration to mark this coming-of-age ritual in a way that will be most naturally engaging for your child, meaningful for everyone involved, and deepening of everyones relationship to Judaism. I will meet with all of you and we will create this process together. The following questions will help me understand what you are looking for and how we can create the most meaningful learning and celebration together.
What does Judaism mean to your family?
What is some Jewish knowledge and Jewish skills that you think it would be useful for your child to learn as they move closer to becoming an adult, at this time?
What might help your child move closer to becoming an adult at this age? What are some skills that would be useful for them to learn, some responsibilities they might take on, some freedoms they might earn?
For the Child:
What are some of your passions?
What are some of your strengths? (https://www.viacharacter.org/Account/Register#youth)
What are some things you are curious about, and curious to learn how to do, in Judaism?
What are some skills which you are interested in learning, which would help you feel like an adult? (Thing of something that would be a stretch, but that your parents might at least be open to letting you learn at this age)
What are some issues/causes in the world that you care about? In other words, what are some things that are broken in the world that you would like to help make better?
For Everyone Together with Rabbi Moshe
How can the preparation and celebration process most naturally and deeply honor Jewish Tradition?
How might we integrate the responses above, to create a plan for Bat/Bar Mitzvah preparation which integrates the child’s natural passions, strengths and interests, the family’s values, and Jewish tradition, to help them create a plan of preparation for their Bat/Bar Mitzvah that will be most naturally engaging, most meaningful, and most useful in the long term?