WES B'NAI MITZVAH PROGRAM
The b'nai mitzvah program consists of seven major elements:
I. B'nai Mitzvah Institute and Moving Traditions Curriculum
We kick off our b'nai mitzvah experience with our B'nai Mitzvah Institute. The institute will consist of 4 sessions:
Thursday, October 18, 2018 from 6:30 - 8:30pm: Session 1: Introductory session
Saturday, October 20th at 10am: Session 2: Shabbat morning service for parashat Lech Lecha. A central theme of this parsha is going forth on a spiritual journey full of unknowns and blessings. The service will include a special Aliyah for the entire cohort and their families as we celebrate the next step in the b'nai mitzvah experience.
Thursday, October 25th from 6:30 - 8:30pm: Session 3
Thursday, November 1st from 6:30 - 8:30pm: Session 4
Our Thursday sessions will allow students and families in the cohort to get to know one another, to offer concrete information regarding the logistics for planning a bar or bat mitzvah here at WES, to learn together utilizing the Moving Traditions B’nai Mitzvah curriculum, and to provide the opportunity to ask questions which may be bubbling up for you. Our Saturday morning Shabbat service will ritually mark the start of this sacred lifecycle and allow you to experience the support and care of the WES community.
II. JFLL Hebrew School Participation
Part of proper b'nai mitzvah preparation is having a firm foundation in Hebrew, Jewish history, culture, and peoplehood. Thus, continued JFLL Hebrew school engagement is a critical portion of the b'nai mitzvah program. The requirement to attend the JFLL Hebrew School may be waived, under special circumstances, at the discretion of the synagogue ritual committee. Please note that students are expected to complete the full year of Hebrew school, even after the completion of their bar or bat mitzvah.
III. Monthly B'nai Mitzvah Youth Engagement Sessions
Nov 20, Dec 18, 2018, and Jan 15, Feb 12, Mar 19, Apr 16, May 21, 2019
A new component of our b'nai mitzvah program is our monthly youth sessions. Meeting directly after Hebrew school on Tuesdays, when most of our youth are already in the building, we will begin with dinner together and then launch into a fun, interactive evening of learning. The sessions will be held every THIRD TUESDAY FROM 6-7:30 PM November 2018 through May 2019, and will incorporate the Moving Traditions B’nai Mitzvah curriculum. Understanding that myriad issues arise for adolescents regarding their growth, their life, and their b'nai mitzvah preparations, these sessions will offer engaging content and interaction for everyone in the cohort to grow individually and as a group. Our time together will allow the young people to share more deeply with one another and with the clergy on a monthly basis. We, as clergy, will be receiving specialized training in this curriculum and look forward to the fun and learning that will ensue.
IV. Cohort Based Tzedakah Project
We will engage in a cohort based tzedakah project this year. Incorporated into the calendar, it will allow the b’nai mitzvah students to work together, collaborate, and make a difference on a more consistent basis throughout their b’nai mitzvah journey. The nature and breadth of the project will be discussed during the B’nai Mitzvah Institute.
V. Personalized One on One Learning with Clergy
As part of the b'nai mitzvah preparation, our youth will meet individually with both the Cantor and Rabbi . Students will meet with the Cantor once a week for 30 minutes beginning at least eight months prior to the bar or bat mitzvah. They will meet with our Rabbi once a week for 30 minutes beginning 3 months prior to the bar or bat mitzvah. These individual learning times will be scheduled as part of the process for reserving and confirming b'nai mitzvah dates.
VI. Regular Attendance at Shabbat morning services
One of the best ways to enhance b'nai mitzvah preparation is to be well-versed in Shabbat services. This is most readily achieved through regular attendance at our services. We hope that you will attend both Friday and Saturday services, and that they will bring great joy and spiritual engagement to you.
Our synagogue policy is that b'nai mitzvah students are expected to attend a minimum of 12 services during the course of their bar or bat mitzvah program. While this will help prepare you ritually for your particular day, an additional blessing is that it allows you to know the WES congregation which you are part of and for them to know you. So when you stand on the bimah on your day, it will be that much sweeter to look out and know the faces who are beaming care and joy your way!
VII. Cohort Engagement
We believe strongly in the b'nai mitzvah experience being a cohort - based journey. Judaism does not happen in a vacuum. One of the blessings of our tradition is its emphasis on community and showing up for one another. Thus, we emphasize this value in our program. Three concrete ways in which we do this are:
1. Committing to attend one another's bar and bat mitzvah services. The comprehensive calendar will have the dates listed so you can plan for them in advance.
2. Our beautiful ritual of having the most recent bar or bat mitzvah lead the community for the first aliyah at the next bar or bat mitzvah. Again, you will be given plenty of time to plan for this honor.
3. Our cohort based tzedakah project.
B'nai Mitzvah Resources
Recorded by Cantor Ayelet Porzecanski