Blessed are You, Source of Life, who has given me the opportunity to see this child to the first threshold of adulthood . . .
We understand human development in the most naturally evolving sense. Our kids are “becoming b-mitzvah*” from the time they enter formal Jewish education in our religious school program or in Jewish day school. Likewise, Jewish identity formation and learning are a continual process that must continue beyond the 13th birthday, even when that is a very special personal and communal milestone.
This traditional Jewish rite of passage is a big moment of celebration for our emerging teens and their families. We support our b-mitzvah participants in all the more conventional ways: learning basic synagogue skills, learning Torah and, optionally, haftarah reading and developing a teaching to share with the whole community. We ask our participants to engage in some kind of mitzvah work, contributing to the world and learning about its many needs. We learn together as a group and also expect families to build a relationship with a private tutor, either from our recommended and vetted list or someone special in the family’s own circle of friends and teachers. But we also understand the b-mitzvah process as a powerful container for self-discovery, for family growth (and, sometimes, healing) and for building their own Jewish identity.
Most importantly, following Jewish tradition’s wise approach to education, we try to meet participants where they are and encourage them to learn and grow from there, honoring that personal advancement as most valuable, regardless of external benchmarks.
At the end of the day, like Lake Wobegone, all of our kids are above average and we delight in celebrating with each and every one.
For more information, please contact Sarah Wesson, Clergy Assistant via email or by phone at 301-767-3333 ext. 106.
*We honor our young people’s gender identity and choose this formula rather than the more binary “bar or bat” language.