Temple Emanuel created a series of 8 family education programs – 2 each year for 4th-7th grades – with the desire to build a sense of community and provide occasions for families to get to know each other. What they soon learned from these programs is that parents very much want to infuse the b’nai mitzvah process with meaning, yet they don’t necessarily have the tools to do so on their own. Temple Emanuel’s family education programs provide opportunities and tools to meet both these goals. Topics of the programs include: in 4th grade, “What is a Bar/Bat Mitzvah” and “A Visual Tour of the Torah;” in 5th grade, “Judaism and Social Justice” and “Integrating Jewish Values into the Day”; in 6th grade, “Up Close with the Torah” and “Judaism in our Lives;” and in 7th grade, “Parenting Teens” and a community Siyyum (closing ritual).
When given the opportunity to dig deeper into what b’nai mitzvah means to them as a family, they will appreciate it and engage in it. They key is to start early, in the 4th grade. By 6th grade families are already getting too stressed out about the details of the bar mitzvah celebration to begin these conversations. Emanuel also now encourages students to start their mitzvah projects in the 5th grade and to keep doing them through the bar/bat mitzvah.
Grade levels: 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th
Learners: Children, Parents
Year Implemented: 2016
Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills
Beverly Hills, CA
720 family units
B’nai Mitzvah each year: 27