Since 2007, I’ve tutored children in preparation for their Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony. When I began this work, the students I mentored celebrated their simcha (translation: joyous celebratory occasion) in a synagogue. As the years have progressed, I’ve seen some pretty profound changes in the ways Jewish families practice and honor their Jewish heritage; now I work with families that are both affiliated with synagogues as well as those who are not synagogue members. These families may honor their children in a synagogue, or in a unique setting such as a park, the beach, or in the mountains. Our Jewish heritage has changed and transformed for over 3000 years, and the ways we impart our traditions changes and transforms, too.
If you are presently unaffiliated with a community but would like the celebration to occur in a “traditional” setting, please consider celebrating the Bar/Bat Mitzvah at Congregation Makom Ohr Shalom, the community I serve as a Cantorial Soloist and Worship Leader. If you’d rather, I will come to you and your unique Mishkan (the portable tent where G-d dwells). Makom’s Torah is available for rent.
When I work with B’nai Mitzvah students, I meet them “where they’re at”. Most kids that I work with have had some form of Hebrew training, but not all of them, and in that case, we really do begin with the basics of reading, pure and simple. If your child has friends that are also preparing for their Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremonies, I can work with small groups as well. My expertise lies in teaching children the trope markings and learning how to leyn (chant) Torah, as well as delving into the meanings and histories of the prayers that we chant. I encourage students to ponder, and verbalize what the prayers mean to them. There are no “right answers” to this process, just openness, exploration and curiosity. I also work with them extensively on their D’var Torah (many American Jews call this “the Bar Mitzvah Speech”). My belief is that it is crucial for people of any age, but especially young people, to discover how Torah stories relate to their lives, today. Families I’ve worked with are happy with my work, and references are available upon request.
Please feel free to contact me so I can get in touch with you, listen to your needs and answer your questions. The more I teach, the more I learn, and it is my joy to work with families as they prepare for this most exciting transitional time in their child’s life.