Spirituality & Questioning

Identifying and Addressing the Spiritual Needs of B'nei Mitzvah Students and Families

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Bar Mitzvah & Bat Mitzvah: Setting Spiritual Goals

It is helpful to ask questions when forming spiritual goals for the bar/bat mitzvah.

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

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.

Opening the Dialogue with God in B’nai Mitzvah Preparation

The B Mitzvah! (R)evolution

by Rabbi Hanna Tiferet Siegel

An anxious pre-teen enters tentatively into my home for the first day of b’nai mitzvah training. We begin by chatting to learn the basics about each other. Listed below are some of the questions I ask and some of the responses I receive.

For Parents: How Jewish Spirituality Can Help Your Intimate Relationship

We received a call from a leader of the Jewish community in Napa, California. "Could you come by to lead an evening for us? Something for couples, many are intermarried and trying we're integrate Judaism into our lives." What follows is a version of the worksheet we had emailed to them in preparation for the workshop.

Finding the Prayer of Your Heart

Many complain of having difficulty finding deep meaning in the traditional prayer service. Many of us were conditioned to accept that for Jews "praying" is accomplished by simply reciting or chanting all the words, preferably in Hebrew. It is helpful and interesting to note that in the Talmud our ancestors worried that writing down their prayers could lead to just such a deadening rote recitation by subsequent generations.

While there is some comfort in repeating that which is familiar, there is deep healing and joy possible from engaging in meaningful Jewish prayer. For example, at the core of each service is a lengthy set of prayers, said while standing, known as the "amidah." While each of the numerous amidah blessings is set in a careful sequence intended to help us find the prayer of our hearts, many find the traditional amidah impenetrable.


For me God expresses the oneness of the evolving Cosmos. God is that to which I cry out when I am in pain. God is a direction for my praise of the stunning creation of which we are a part. God is that which you and I resemble..........in our creative and destructive nature.

God is everything unfolding, seeking all possibilities, becoming what it is becoming. God is the encoded consciousness of the cosmos which is aware of Its needs and deploys every one of us as an important part of the present and future.

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.]

Healthy Friendships, a Jewish Value to Evolve During the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Process

Here's a meaningful family activity that also works well on retreats and in group gatherings: Write down up to ten people you would be sure to show up for if they asked for help and, who you know will also show up for you (not including parents, your siblings or your pets.)

Many people are startled to find they don't think they have ten true friends.