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.

Read more from the New York Times.

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Kate Bigam

About Kate Bigam

Kate Bigam is the URJ's Social Media and Community Manager. Prior to this, she served as a Congregational Representative for the URJ's East District and at the Religious Action Center as Press Secretary and as an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. Kate resides in Northeast Ohio.

One Response to “The New Bar Mitzvah: Read All About It!”

  1. avatar

    Now, there are some teens who absolutely thrive on temple life and can’t imagine not having a defined connection to Things Jewish. Unfortunately, after the BMitzvah, there is not much to attract kids. Our temple has a Confirmation program but the course offerings (Israeli history and politics, social justice work, conversational Hebrew, and folk dancing) etc. just don’t appeal to a lot of teens. In addition, most parents suddenly realize that Junior is leaving for college in six years and couldn’t that three to four grand a year do more good in a 529 Plan? As Michael Corleone said “It’s not personal, its just business.”

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