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My Mitzvah FAQs

Do we have to belong to a synagogue to join the My Mitzvah program?
No. My Mitzvah is a one-year program open to any Jewish-identifying teen (12 and up) and their family. Members of B’nai Havurah synagogue may be subject to a different set of expectations than those who are not members of the synagogue.
 
I’ve heard of Bar- and Bat Mitzvah, but what is “B’nai Mitzvah?”
We use the term “B’nai Mitzvah,” which is the plural of Bar Mitzvah, in the spirit of “they/them”--as a non-gendered reference to the Jewish coming of age process and/or event. The term can also refer to the person who is “doing” the B’nai Mitzvah. We also use the term “B. Mitzvah” in the same spirit.
 
Will my child have their own B’nai Mitzvah, or will it be a combined ceremony?
There will be an individual ceremony for each child, but combined ceremonies (with a sibling or friend enrolled in the same class) are allowed
and encouraged.
 
Will my child learn Hebrew at My Mitzvah?
Reading Hebrew is not part of the class curriculum, but it is definitely something your child can learn to do with a private tutor. My Mitzvah is open to students who already read Hebrew; those who will learn Hebrew (with a tutor) alongside (and simultaneous with) our curriculum; and those students who wish to have a B'nai Mitzvah without reading Hebrew. If you'd like more details on how this works, or if you’d like help getting set up with tutoring, please ask us.
 
Can my child really prepare for a B’nai Mitzvah in a year?
Yes, and the process and product will be different for each participant. A child who comes in with prior knowledge of Hebrew and prayer can learn and lead a modern Jewish prayer service. With tutoring, that child can chant a Torah and/or haftarah in Hebrew as well. A child with no prior experience with Judaism will also be able to lead a service, if they so choose, with the amount of Hebrew tailored to their level of skill and interest. You may want to start weekly lessons with a private tutor at some point during the year of study, but it is not a requirement for having a B’nai Mitzvah.
 
What if it takes longer than a year for my child to feel ready?
The formal program runs for the academic year, but a child and family could continue to study with a tutor and be in consultation with Rabbi/Mitzvah Mavens for as long as necessary. The ceremony should take place within a year of completing the program.
 
Does My Mitzvah require my child to have a traditional B’nai Mitzvah?
No. All participants will become comfortable with Jewish modes of prayer, but the year of study does not need to culminate in a traditional prayer service. We can help a student create a different sort of capstone experience if a normative B’nai Mitzvah doesn’t fit.
 
Is parent involvement required?
Yes. Occasional gatherings with parents or families are an important piece of My Mitzvah. Some of the best Jewish stuff happens in community with others, and in the home. When we light candles or sing a blessing, we create a sacred “space in time” for just being together in the moment. Our MM gatherings will provide a fun, safe chance to try out in-home practices, as well as a chance to socialize and share our experiences as we go through this process together.
 
Do we need to invite the whole class to our child’s B’nai Mitzvah?
Yes. Creating a community of Jewish friends among our students is a key value of My Mitzvah, and celebrating together and supporting each other are an important piece of creating that community. You may announce it to the class (up to 12 students) as a group if you wish, instead of sending out invitations. You need not invite the students’ families.
 
Do I need to announce my event within B’nai Havurah synagogue and/or include the community?
Members of B’nai Havurah synagogue are asked to invite the whole community to your ceremony through an announcement in “What’s Nu,” the weekly newsletter, though most folks will not show up if they don't receive a formal invitation. For non-B’nai Havurah members, we would like to let our community know about your joyful milestone, but inviting the community is not required.
 
Where can we have our B’nai  Mitzvah?
Any member of My Mitzvah may hold their ceremony in our building.  If you are not a member of B’nai Havurah synagogue, you may have your ceremony anywhere you like, as approved by our Mitzvah Mavens. If you are a B’nai Havurah member having a Shabbat morning service, we ask that it be within a reasonable distance from our synagogue’s “home base” so as to be accessible to our community.
 
Is a program booklet or siddur included in the cost?
Each child and family will have access to their own interactive siddur (prayerbook) Google Doc, which will be customized (by student, family and Rabbi or Mitzvah Mavens) for each child. You then have several options for a final product:  
1.  Print copies of that Google Doc (formatting, adding photos, etc. as you wish) to provide a complete program.
2. Compose and print a much shorter program and use B’nai Havurah’s siddurim (prayerbooks) so that you don’t need to include all the prayers and songs.
3. Hire a designer to create either of the above. The designer should be comfortable working with Hebrew text. (Hal Aqua does many of these.)
 
Does My Mitzvah provide a sound system?
If your service is in our building, then yes. If you choose a different venue, you will be responsible for getting a sound system and someone to run it. Experience has shown that most gatherings of more than a dozen people require sound amplification for everyone’s comfort.
 
What about Zooming the service?
Again, if your service is in our building, then yes, you will be able to access our cameras and microphones. We will ask you to provide a person who can run or help run the zoom.
 

What do you mean by “diverse levels of knowledge?”
Students can enter our program knowing a lot, or knowing little to nothing about Judaism and Hebrew. Students who have recently become B’nai Mitzvah at My Mitzvah have included:

1. Students  who had attended Hebrew school for years; who were good Hebrew readers; who recited both Torah and Haftarah; and led all the prayers at their service.
2. Students with learning differences who chanted from the Torah; led as many prayers as they felt comfortable with; and delivered strong, authentic Divrey Torah (speeches).
3. Students who could not or chose not to read the Hebrew alphabet, but learned and performed Torah and prayers using transliteration, beautifully and proudly.

 

 
Sat, September 24 2022 28 Elul 5782