The New Bar Mitzvah: Read All About It!
Just before Rosh HaShanah, the New York Times ran a story titled “Bar Mitzvahs Get New Look to Build Faith.” The piece introduces readers to the Reform Movement’s new B’nai Mitzvah Revolution, an initiative to reinvent the bar and bat mitzvah that began with 13 pilot congregations.
The American bar mitzvah, facing derision for Las Vegas style excess, is about to get a full makeover, but for an entirely different reason.
Families have been treating this rite of passage not as an entry to Jewish life, but as a graduation ceremony: turn 13, read from the Torah, have a party and it’s over. Many leave synagogue until they have children of their own, and many never return at all — a cycle that Jewish leaders say has been undermining organized Judaism for generations.
As Jews celebrate the new year Wednesday night, leaders in the largest branch of Judaism, the Reform movement, are starting an initiative to stop the attrition by reinventing the entire bar and bat mitzvah process.