B’nai Mitzvah

Significance of the B’nai Mitzvah

Bar Mitzvah, Bat Mitzvah, or B’nai Mitzvah is a new beginning in the life of an emerging adult, as well as in the life of their family.

  • This moment affirms the decision to formally enter the Jewish community and, according to our tradition, is a time of choosing one’s group identity.
  • This experience functions as a springboard to further strengthen the Jewish experience of the family and the student and reinforce their engagement with the community.

Highlights of the Bolton Street Synagogue B’nai Mitzvah experience include:

  • a process which honors each individual as a person and accommodates their unique learning style
  • regular meetings with Rabbi Gordon
  • individual ceremonies (no “doubles”)
  • services that are inclusive of interfaith families.

Goals of B’nai Mitzvah at BSS

A period of preparation for “coming of age” is an ancient tradition among the Jewish people. For the sake of continuity with Jewish heritage, we categorize the Bolton Street goals of becoming a Bar Mitzvah, Bat Mitzvah, or B’nai Mitzvah as:

  • connection to Jewish spirituality
  • mastery of Jewish rituals, skills, and community leadership
  • engagement in tikkun olam (repairing the world).

The process is designed to build new peer relationships, to encourage community service, to encourage Torah study, and to strengthen the ties of family members to each other and the family’s commitment to the Jewish community.

Requirements for B’nai Mitzvah at BSS

  • Enrollment in religious school or Jewish day school.
  • Membership in the synagogue.
  • Mastery of selected Hebrew texts, including a Torah portion.
  • Preparing a lesson of Torah (d’var Torah/speech).
  • Completion of a mitzvah project.

Mitzvah Project

An important part of the journey is the mitzvah project for which the student picks a cause that they feel connects to their Jewish values. The following are examples of Mitzvah projects:

  • Collecting supplies for the animals at the SPCA or BARCS.
  • Tutoring at an elementary school.
  • Assisting in an after-school program for young children.
  • Collecting books for a public school library.
  • Collecting socks for homeless Baltimoreans.
  • Volunteering in a nursing home.
  • Raising awareness of racial injustice.