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 Home > Bar Mitzvah Guide > Conservative > Ideas and Alternative Celebrations    Search The Jewish Directory

Preparations for Bar Mitzvah: Ideas and Alternatives
A Conservative Perspective by Rivka C. Berman

Parents Make It Special
• At some synagogues, parents are included in the bar mitzvah curriculum. There may be classes offered for parents and bnei mitzvah to create a deeper, more meaningful experience for the whole family.

• Bnei mitzvah who are consulted before the planning begins tend to be more cooperative throughout the preparation stages. Parents dream of certain bar mitzvah celebrations and ceremonies. Kids do, too.

• Parents can reinforce the impact of the bat mitzvah by beginning to treat their child as the adult she will soon be. Teens want to be taken seriously. A little individual attention goes a long way. Parents can schedule a weekend away with the bar mitzvah boy. Discussing the meaning of the bat mitzvah can be one goal of the weekend, but so is doing grown up things together like dining out, attending the theater, browsing through museum collections. This is the dawn of ardent adolescence, and it’s a good time to touch on the tough, but important topics like love, sexuality, morality. Then listen. Really listen.

• If the bar mitzvah boy is a reader, choose a book with a Jewish theme to read together. Go out for coffee and discuss your reading.

• Design a tallit bag together. Or build an outing around choosing the tallit and tallit bag. A mom, dad, and bat mitzvah event complete with lunch, shopping, and a commemorative picture “my first tallit.” Once you’re in the Judaica store, hunt around for what’s newish and Jewish. Jewish publishers and products have gone savvy in recent years.

• Throughout the party planning craziness, long walks can be a way to refocus on the meaning of the bat mitzvah instead of the hype. Talk about the meaning of the milestone: how does the bat mitzvah girl see herself as a Jew? Share memories of your bar mitzvah. (Remember how embarrassed you were of your parents on the dance floor?)

• Create a guide to the service as a joint effort. Include favorite, meaningful passages from Jewish books. Write a brief biography of the new adult and feature his commentary on the Torah portion.

Bat Mitzvah Clubs
Some cities have Bat Mitzvah Clubs which expand the ceremony from a one-day event to a year-long thoughtful, challenging process where information about becoming a Jewish woman is explored through discussions and events. Hebrew reading lessons are not part of the club structure, but leaders vary their club content. Your local club may have a Hebrew focus. It’s not a school. Information is passed along in a social setting. In time each girl develops a personal answer to the question: “What does a bat mitzvah really mean?”

The Bat Mitzvah Club may be the best choice right for girls who don’t feel comfortable at their religious school or a way to supplement Hebrew reading lessons.

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Why are the Bat and Bar Mitzvah Celebrated at Ages Twelve and Thirteen
• Biblical Thirteen Year Olds
• Evolution of the Bar Mitzvah over the years
Evolution of the Bat Mitzvah over the years
• Is a formal celebration of a Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah required by Jewish law?
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• Bar Mitzvah Services and Ceremonial Rituals at the Synagogue
• Getting Ready for the Bar Mitzvah - The Tallit: Prayer Shawl
• Getting Ready for the Bar Mitzvah - The Tefillin, Phylacteries
• What a Bar and Bat Mitzvah Need to Know
Getting Ready for the Bar Mitzvah - Reading Hebrew & Torah Reading
Preparation for the Bar Mitzvah Celebrations: Ideas and Alternatives
• Beyond Party Plans: Meaningful Projects for the Bar and Bat Mitzvah
• The Bar and Bat Mitzvah Service: Instructional Booklets and Schedules
• The Bar Mitzvah: Roles for Parents
• Memorial Prayers during the Bar and Bat Mitzvah Celebrations
• Videography and Photography during Bar Mitzvah Services at the Synagogue
• Bar Mitzvah boy and Bat Mitzvah Girl of Divorced Parents.  What to do?
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