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 its 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 youre in the Judaica store,
hunt around for whats 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. Its 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 dont feel
comfortable at their religious school or a way to supplement Hebrew reading
Here to Search For
Bar & Bat Mitzvah Service