This time in your child’s life can be socially and spiritually confusing, intense, scary, and exciting. The experience your child has through the process of preparing for his/her bar/bat mitzvah will color the way he/she feels about Jewish community life and ritual for the rest of his/her life. In the process of preparing for bar/bat mitzvah there are many opportunities to accomplish tangible, positive results for your child in many facets of his/her life/development. There are also wonderful opportunities to renew your own family’s connection with your synagogue and community life. Our hope is that the process of bar/bat mitzvah preparation will enhance these aspects of your child's Jewish life:
- Relationships: Positive interactions with Jewish professionals and the Jewish community which create a lasting impression, and increase the chance that your child, as an adult, will choose to be active in a Jewish community.
- Ritual Skills: Learning proficiency reading Hebrew and our traditional texts will allow your child to feel comfortable navigating prayer services, so that, when s/he chooses to enter a synagogue, s/he will not feel like an outsider, but rather, like the member of the larger Jewish community to which s/he belongs.
- Self-Esteem: Increased self-esteem gained by rising to the challenges his/her tutor gives her. Many students enter this process overwhelmed by the apparent enormity of the task. As your child learns, usually through the small steps of progress through the texts s/he is expected to master, s/he sees that s/he was able to master this task that seemed completely insurmountable just weeks or months ago! Students often surprise themselves and accomplish much more than they ever felt they would be able to, and the boost to their self-esteem is truly amazing!
- Empowerment and Ownership: Sitting in services on a Shabbat morning, seeing the Torah taken out of the ark, and all the rituals around its public reading, can make the Torah, and all it symbolizes in our tradition, seem distant and strange. The process of learning to read from the Torah, and having the opportunity to have direct access to it, is a wonderful way of bringing our children closer to our traditions and making them seem like these traditions belong to them, and not just to those other people up on the bimah every Shabbat. Demystifying the Torah and our rituals and traditions creates a tangible connection for our children to Jewish life.
Our goal at Congregation Beth Shalom is to create a Bar/Bat Mitzvah experience that connects your child to our rich heritage by teaching your child the skills necessary to feel competent and at home in any synagogue. We strive, daily, to provide a nurturing environment for your child, and a compassionate environment for your family, through the entire process. Our hope is that by learning Jewish ritual skills, your child - and your family, will have the tools necessary to express your own Jewish practice in a meaningful and spiritual way. As parents, your involvement is key to the success of our program and your child’s entire bar/bat mitzvah experience. We encourage parents to be involved every step of the way in their child’s preparation.
If you have any questions about this process, please do not hesitate to call us.
Ritual Director Cantor Raquel P. Gershon 847.498.4100 x23
Cantor Steve Stoehr 847.498.4100 x14