Helpful Approaches & New Ideas

Thirteen Sacred Shifts Possible Through a Meaningful Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah Process B Mitzvah! The Bar and Bat Mitzvah (R)evolution continues here

Well-conceived bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah preparation processes, rituals and celebrations lead to wonderful developmental outcomes such as these that we have identified through exit interviews with our program participants. 

1. Parents shift from stressed taskmasters to empowered family bar/bat mitzvah team members.

2. Youth go from being cared for like children to becoming young adults caring for others by learning to recognize, respect and consider the needs of others and acting accordingly.

3. Youth go from being entertained as guests at birthday parties to taking on the mitzvah of helping one another by carrying out assigned hosting tasks at the bar/bat mitzvah services and celebrations of family and friends.

Reclaiming Bar/Bat Mitzvah as a Spiritual Rite of Passage

Featured at the Jewish Futures Conference

Provides the tools and understanding necessary to create a conscious Bar/Bat Mitzvah experience infused with spirituality and meaning. The original purpose of this important rite of passage is carefully reclaimed: Ensuring a healthy Jewish lens for living is conveyed to each student; a lens that supports love of life and respect for life.

The Story of Pachi and How the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Revolution Got Started B Mitzvah! The Bar and Bat Mitzvah (R)evolution

"The Story of Pachi"

The easiest way to learn why staff at collect and create exciting new approaches to bar/bat mitzvah is through the story of Pachi, who taught Rabbi Milgram, this site's author and founder, the importance of mentoring meaningful bar/bat mitzvah processes.

During my son Mark’s bar-mitzvah preparatory year, since his Torah portion was Noah [and the ark], I felt fortunate to be serving for as rabbi on a Universe Explorer cruise up the coast of Alaska. We helicoptered onto glaciers, whale watched, visited tribes. The big "Ah Ha!" moment happened in Victoria, British Columbia at the Natural History Museum.

BMAP: Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah Planning, Logistical Emotional Intellectual Spiritual B Mitzvah! The Bar and Bat Mitzvah (R)evolution continues here

A physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually satisfying Bat or Bar Mitzvah can best emerge when you begin by creating a BMAP – a Bar/Bat Mitzvah Action Plan. This involves pausing with the likely stressful array of logistical decisions that are on your plate, and reclaiming the joy of this process by taking some time to focus on building a healthy planning team and considering the feelings and needs of each member of your team.

If you are parent, the BMAP process will transform you from a taskmaster into a team member; if you are an adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah student the BMAP will awaken more spiritual possibilities than you might ever have imagined; if you are an adolescent student, the BMAP will empower you in numerous healthy ways.

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

Four Cross Cultural Examples of Adolescent Rites of Passage

To what end bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah? Across cultural look at adolescent rites of passage along with the Story of Pachi help us take a look at our own rite with new eyes.

The Mescalero Girls’ Puberty Ceremony.

The ceremony is conducted by men determined to be holy by the tribe, beyond reproach. Each Holy Man/Singer must be intelligent and able to memorize and interpret songs in a special form of Mescalero Apache. Each must sing 64 different songs on each of the four nights of the Ceremony Additionally, the Singer must memorize long stories of the people, their travels, and accounts of tribal interacts from the beginning to the present. The Ceremony is thus a re-enactment of events from the beginning of cosmological time and a recitation of ethno-history.

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.

Four Inspiring Approaches to Bar/Bat Mitzvah 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.

Creating a Personal Community

A personal kehillah, "community" is a small group of mentors/advisors that the student and family create to meeting monthly and contemplate the roles and issues of adulthood, to help the student emerge with dignity and awareness into adult life. Besides, it's terrible to be isolated and this can happy in suburbia, small towns, and some families - here's how to get past all that to meaningful connections. [Credit for the basis of this idea is due to Rabbi Geelah Rayzl and Dr. Simcha Raphael.]

The Bat Mitzvah Girl Who Loved Horses

Are there tasteful limits for B'nei Mitzvah? B Mitzvah! The Bar/Bat Mitzvah (R)evolution

There was a twelve-year-old girl who loved horses. She was preparing to become bat mitzvah and insisted on horseback rides for her friends in the synagogue parking lot as well as centerpieces with famous horses depicted upon them. She also wanted to wear her riding hat when she read Torah. What to do? What’s a parent or rabbi to say?

Reb Goldie: “Ashley, I’m so impressed by your love of animals, especially horses, that I’ve brought you some information from Judaism about animals and horses.”