Today is July 15, 2020 -
Bar/Bat mitzvah is one of the most significant passages in our Jewish life. Rather than being a one-time observance or an examination to be passed, Bar/Bat Mitzvah is a legal status that every member of the Jewish people receives automatically on the occasion of his or her Hebrew thirteenth birthday. Our sages determined centuries ago that thirteen is the age when a person has the maturity to take responsibility for their own actions, especially as defined by the 613 Mitzvot or Commandments contained in the Torah. For that reason, when a Bar/Bat Mitzvah ascends the pulpit to lead part of the synagogue service, he or she is acknowledging his or her spiritual responsibilities and guaranteeing that our sacred cultural heritage will continue to flourish and grow for another generation.
Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation together with Jewish education gives the individual the rudimentary tools they need to begin forging their own link in the timeless chain of Jewish tradition. Because there are no set requirements for becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, no minimum or maximum criteria that must be met, each individual is empowered to define their own Bar/Bat Mitzvah experience by setting reasonable but challenging goals and working to accomplish these objectives. Throughout the process, the celebrant and his/her family are surrounded by a warm, supportive and nurturing synagogue community. Bar/Bat Mitzvah, then, affords the entire family a unique opportunity to expand their spiritual skills and level of awareness and to examine their own Jewish heritage – to formulate their own family traditions, values and customs that can also be passed on to future generations.
Here at Beth El, it is our goal to make Bar/Bat Mitzvah a positive, life changing experience, not only for the individual student but for the entire family. Perhaps the best advice I can give is to make sure that the concepts associated with Bar/Bat Mitzvah become important family values. Bring your Bar/Bat Mitzvah student to synagogue, don’t just drop them off; make sure that the entire family is a part of the wonderful Shabbat community that gathers for prayer and fellowship each week here at Beth El. Communicate by example, take advantage of the family educational opportunities that are offered.
It has been my honor to work with Bar/Bat Mitzvah students and their families for many years. For me the joy and “Nachas” of guiding a student as they take their first steps on the path to Jewish adulthood and to bask in the glow of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah as they shine on their special day is priceless.
Hazzan Michael Krausman