January 9, 2016

Adult Bar and Bat MItzvah Preparation

Adult B’nai Mitzvah

From time to time, a group of adult Brith Sholomers who have not yet experienced a bar or bat mitzvah ceremony form a class that comes together for study and preparation, culminating in a special bnai mitzvah service and celebration. Speak with Rabbi Singer to find out more.

“You can succeed and improve your Hebrew under the Rabbi’s encouragement and with your own effort. We all did.” — Excerpted from Remarks of class of 2010

Additional excerpts:

“We are a group of six adults: a new great grandmother and a grandmother; a husband and wife looking forward to the marriage of the eldest of their three children this summer ; and two mothers, one with three young sons and one with three daughters …

… The two senior women [said] ‘we never had the opportunity our children had so why not now?’

The mothers of the younger children wanted to be a role model to their children and to help them prepare for becoming a bar and bat mitzvah.

Some of us had formal religious school training and one had become a bat mitzvah at thirteen, but we lost much of what we learned. We needed to revisit the process in order to participate in services more fully.

What it really comes down to, as a member said, is that this group wanted to further their knowledge of Judaism, including the reading of Hebrew.

One benefit of taking this course is the friendship and bonding that has taken place between the students and with the rabbi. The added benefit is the pleasure we experience when we see each other at Shabbat services.”


Remarks to the Class of 2010:

by Ardeth Smackey, Adult Bnot Mitzvah Class of 1979

Bar Mitzvah — Bat Mitzvah — what do they mean? If you look up a definition, you will find “son of the Commandment” or “daughter of the Commandment.” You have reached a stage of your life when you take on the privileges, obligations, responsibilities, laws, and traditions of the Jewish people. You can now participate in all areas of Jewish community life.

But this B’nai Mitzvah Class has already done this. What else can they find to pursue after today? I will speak from my past experiences as a member of Rabbi Juda’s first Bat Mitzvah Class of October 14, 1979 — almost 31 years ago.

We were a class of ten women coming from different backgrounds to study with Rabbi Juda. As a convert to Judaism in 1966 (so this truly was my Bat Mitzvah), I had studied under two rabbis before moving to Bethlehem. But Rabbi Juda’s class was very comprehensive and filled the holes missing in my Jewish education. It was like a seven-year Hebrew School curriculum compressed into two years!

We really delved into Judaism: We read books and discussed the themes; we went through the holidays and festivals of the year; we studied life cycle events and how they are observed and celebrated; we learned trope and learned to chant a Haftarah; we learned Birkat Hamazon; and we had road trips and field trips. We did it all.

So what came after that big day? In our class of ten women, we had six members who served as Sisterhood President; all served on the Sisterhood board; one as Hadassah president; two as Leisure Group president; one as president of our congregation; many served on the synagogue board; one as a Hebrew School teacher; six have served with Chevra Kaddisha; some have served on the JFLV board; and some chanted a different Haftarah.

We learned we had a responsibility to our Jewish Community, a commitment to rituals and customs of a Jewish life (four members of the Class kashered their kitchens and have continued a kosher home for 31 years — leaving a daily impact on our lives). Many of us had children in Hebrew School and the Jewish Day School at that time. We were examples and, by doing, showed them the value that we placed on Jewish education.

So — what did the experience of the 1979 Bat Mitzvah Class mean to us? It was a call to commitment, to responsibility and to leadership in the Jewish Community, but especially to Brith Sholom. We experienced a sense of accomplishment; we were molded, refined and changed in our commitment to Judaism.

What can the Class of 1979 say to this class? Today is not the end of your meeting and your studying with Rabbi Juda. “Today is the first day of the rest of your life,” is a common saying, but so true. It is the beginning of renewed commitment; of taking more responsibility; of being a worker, a supporter, and a leader in our community and the extended Jewish community. This is your commencement, your new beginning.

May your study of the laws and rituals of Torah and Hebrew be a gift which continues to bring you blessings and joy throughout your life. Mazel Tov to this B’nai Mitzvah Class.