For over six decades, the CHJ’s bar and bat mitzvah program has offered highly meaningful opportunities for secular Jewish families to celebrate a traditional milestone in their children’s lives while remaining faithful to their humanistic beliefs and values. Uniquely tailored to the interests of the student and family, the mitzvah program allows each young participant an opportunity to engage in this historical rite of passage in a way that is personally meaningful and provides a lasting link to their Jewish heritage.
How do we prepare candidates for the bar and bat mitzvah?
Our two-year mitzvah plan of study is comprised of monthly live classes and activities facilitated by our mitzvah coordinator and teachers. Students may begin the process as early as eleven years of age, or even enter as adults. Conducted in a warm and supportive environment, each student engages in an exploration of historical and contemporary iterations of Jewish history, ethics, and culture from a humanistic perspective. Students discuss a variety of topics, share their experiences, and participate in community service with the support of a caring group of adults and peers.
ln the second year of study, each candidate is assigned a mentor who supervises the creation of a culminating project on a Jewish topic of the student’s choice that will eventually be presented to the congregation. Past mitzvah candidates have explored historical events of interest including the Kindertransport and female WWII resistance fighters, as well as personal issues such as mixed marriage and adoption. Others have studied their families’ genealogies, Jewish art, athletes, music, and dance, in order to broaden their understanding and appreciation for their personal histories and for the rich contributions of Jewry around the world. Each student presentation has been unique; many share their research orally, while others have used performance art such as acting, dance or video to tell their story.
Additionally, each student is assigned a CHJ ceremonial leader whose role it is to assist the family in creating a mitzvah ceremony that reflects their unique interests and values, as well as those of our humanistic congregation. The ultimate goal of our program is to facilitate a journey for the mitzvah candidate that is meaningful, personal, and validating of their heritage, and to offer an opportunity for our congregation to recognize and appreciate the wealth of interests and experience of our young adults.
To find out more about our Mitzvah program, contact Ellie Shafer email@example.com.