Re-Celebrate an Important Event


         

Let's Have Second, Third, and Later Bar/Bat Mitzvahs

 
 
 
 

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Let's Have Second, Third, and Later Bar/Bat Mitzvahs

By Zoltan Fischer

I am proposing to the Jewish community additional opportunities for an individual to reflect upon and celebrate his/her committment to our values and people. My idea is to have a bar or bat mitzvah every thirteen years, at 13, 26, 39, 52, 65, and so on.

Some might say that a person's examination of his/her Jewish ties should go on all the time and certainly occur more often than every thirteen years. Of course it should, but a recognized opportunity and special occasion would certainly help. As adults, we get busy with relationships/marriage, children, and careers. Jewish consciousness is crowded out by seemingly more urgent daily issues. I feel it would be very appropriate for the synagogues to offer this new program to their membership.

What would a person's second, third, or other bar/bat mizvah consist of? Here are some suggestions. I want to make it thought-provoking, refreshing in a spiritual sense, and happy, but not too materialistic.

Most important is the personal thought that occurs around the anniversary but I would suggest these four specific components:

  1. A weekly or bi-weekly discussion group at the synagogue for members approaching one of these later bar/bat mitzvahs. The group would deal with spirituality, the challenges of adult Jewishness, current events, etc. It would be suggested that a person take part for six months.

  2. Preparation of a personal statement, an essay on the person's Jewishness of the past thirteen years and the next thirteen years. This would be both a critique and a plan.

  3. A private discussion with a rabbi or other community leader about adult expressions of Judaism.

  4. Participation in a bar-mitzvah anniversary synagogue service that might include:

    1. An oral presentation of his/her personal statement

    2. Some liturgical activity including a call to the Torah reading

    3. A special prayer/blessing that has to do with renewal of the Jewish people's and the individual's Covenant.

  5. A modest celebration with family, friends, and congregation.

I am hoping that these renewal occasions celebrated at 13-year intervals by adults would bring about a greater consciousness of Jewish ethnic and religious identity and most importantly, a greater effort to incorporate Jewish values into all aspects of adult life (relationships, families, work places, and communal projects).

The addition of the bar/bat mitzvahs can be easily implemented at the synagogue level. As rabbis, please consider taking the following steps:

  1. After getting the synagogue leadership's approval, explaining this new possibility to the congregation, using sermons, newsletter, and in-person contacts.

  2. Publicizing the celebrations and the underlying ideas, using the city-wide papers or electronic media at your disposal.

  3. Spreading the new "custom" to the national level by taking advantage of the major forums of American Jewry.

    I believe we will be doing a good thing in the area of revitalization and taking another nice step toward thoughtful adult Judaism. These are my motivations.

Please send your questions and comments to me at my website's email address: moshe@backtobasicsjudaism.com

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from the March 2006 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

 

 

 

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