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B Mitzvah

“For years my father-in-law, who is Conservative, would come up to our rabbi after the Sunday school class service every year, and he would say to the rabbi, “I don’t get how this is real Judaism.” But after my son’s Bar Mitzvah he came up to the rabbi and said, “I completely get it now. Thank you very much,” and gave him a handshake.”

— Marla D., Deerfield

"All three of our children celebrated B Mitzvahs at Kol Hadash. We loved that they each got to “own” their B Mitzvah by picking a Torah portion that they wanted to study and present, and that, as a family, we got to choose the music and readings from our Kol Hadash favorites. Each experience, from beginning to end, was so meaningful and personal. We couldn’t have been happier!"

— Andrea F., Deerfield


How is Kol Hadash B Mitzvah Different from All Other B Mitzvahs?

Learn about our B Mitzvah program.

The Kol Hadash B Mitzvah program (gender-neutral, non-binary term for “Bar Mitzvah” and/or “Bat Mitzvah”) is unique, meaningful, and personal to the student in many ways:

1.  Our B Mitzvah training fits into the busy lives of today’s middle-schoolers. Students attend Hebrew school, one hour a week conveniently following Sunday school in 6th and 7th grades.

2.  Our Hebrew curriculum balances the need for Hebrew reading skills with an understanding of Hebrew as a modern, living language.

3.  Rather than be automatically assigned the Torah or Haftorah portion coinciding with their B Mitzvah service date, our students choose their own Torah portion, whichever one they find to be most inspirational, or . . .

4.  Students have the choice to read from other Jewish literature or do a Jewish-related research project instead of reading from the Torah. A sampling of these inspiring speeches is below.

5.  All of the readings and music celebrate the milestone of becoming a B Mitzvah. The B Mitzvah is the only reason for the gathering.

6.  Every B Mitzvah service is devoted to only one student.

7.  Families can customize their B Mitzvah celebration service by choosing their favorite readings and music from an array of options.

8.  All parents of B Mitzvah students participate fully in our ceremonies. It’s not even a question. We are fully inclusive of modern families in all their diversity.

9.  Following the B Mitzvah presentation, the parents have the opportunity to share their feelings about the occasion in a short but meaningful address to their child.

10.  Families may honor other family members and friends by having them read selections from the service, hold the Torah, or light candles on our congregational menorah.

11.  Service readings are in English and sensitive to a diverse audience, enabling all family members (of all ethnic and religious backgrounds) to equally and meaningfully participate.

12.  Our families almost always get their first choice of date. Ceremonies can be held on a Friday evening, Saturday morning or Saturday evening.

Learn more about Kol Hadash B Mitzvahs:

Sample B Mitzvah Speeches

Jewish Humor:  One day, the special golden phone on the desk of the Orthodox Israeli Chief Rabbi rings for the first time. Amazed, the Chief Rabbi picks up the phone and asks in a halting voice, “Who is there?”  “This is God speaking. I have two very important messages to give you. Would you like the good news or the bad news first?”  Read entire speech

Rehoboam & Politics: By looking at the passage I read, what can we tell about who wrote it, and when, and why? It must have been written some time after the events took place; it couldn’t have been written before they happened, of course, and it doesn’t sound like it was written like a newspaper article right afterwards. It sounds much more like a later interpretation…Read entire speech.

Leviticus: An Eye for an Eye: In Humanistic Bar Mitzvahs, we are able to choose our Hebrew reading. When it was time to choose my passage, I was considering multiple options. Passages from Genesis, other parts of Leviticus or Deuteronomy, but “lex talonis,” or “the law of an eye for an eye,” caught MY eye. Read entire speech.

Jacob + Esau: One of the interesting details of the story is how Jacob sends his family to meet Esau –first he sends his servants…. Then he sends Leah and her children, and then Rachel and Joseph…He is putting who he likes the best in the back, so they will be the safest…If you had been in front, you wouldn’t have liked it, but in the story they don’t say anything. In Humanistic Judaism, it is important to say what you believe, even if others disagree with you. You have to stand up for what you think. Read entire speech.

Learn more about our B Mitzvah program by reading our B Mitzvah Guide. Learn more about a Humanistic B Mitzvah.

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Fri, October 18 2019 19 Tishrei 5780