To create a greater sense of comfort in the sanctuary space, to find opportunities to create holy moments, and to frame b’nai mitzvah as one holy moment in a lifelong journey, rather than an isolated one, ritual moments have been added to several steps in the b’nai mitzvah process. These moments include: (a) a cohort blessing on the bima on the Shabbat before bar/bat mitzvah dates are mailed out; (b) a cohort ritual for receiving one’s Torah portion; (c) a personal blessing with the rabbi prior to beginning intensive Torah study with him/her; (d) a ritual before receiving one’s siddur; (e) ritual for receiving one’s tallit immediately prior to the bar/bat mitzvah service; (f) the bar/bat mitzvah service itself, and (g) a b’nai mitzvah-versary, the year after one’s bar/bat mitzvah in which a special honor is given at services on the anniversary of the child’s parsha. This constellation of rituals creates sacred moments for both the individual child and his/her family as well as for each cohort of families travelling on this journey together.
Parents, and therefore their children, feel like they’re not equipped to be comfortable on the bima. Families benefit from spending time in sacred moments in that space. These various rituals build a sense of appreciation for the experience of the b’nai mitzvah journey. They are surprised at how special these liminal moments make them feel.
Grade levels: 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th
Learners: Children (pre-B’nai Mitzvah), Parents
Year Implemented: 2016
Congregation Beth Am
Los Altos Hills, CA
B’nai Mitzvah each year: 60