All b’nai mitzvah students begin their preparation for the service by first reading their Torah portion and coming up with 10 questions about what they read. The student brings the 10 questions to his or her first meeting with the rabbi, and together, they use these questions to select the verses that will guide the student’s learning and be read at the service. Through the course of studying with the rabbi, students are encouraged to ask some “big questions” on any topic of interest to the student, whether related or unrelated to the Torah portion. The rabbi responds to one of these “big questions” during the b’nai mitzvah service, after the student’s d’var Torah. By focusing on the child’s question, the rabbi personalize the teaching to the individual student while also offering learning with depth and meaning for the general congregation, including those who do not have a connection to the student.
Shabbat morning “regulars” now feel there is something important for them in the b’nai mitzvah service, where they might otherwise feel disconnected. The “Ask Me a Big Question” sermon, builds a bridge between the b’nai mitzvah and the larger community.
Grade levels: 7
Learners: Children (pre-B’nai Mitzvah), Parents
Everyone in the target audience is required to participate in the program.
Year Implemented: 2011
B’nai Mitzvah each year: 20