Differentiated Bnai Mitzvah

by Eitan Gutin

At times I feel as if, instead of being in the Jewish education business, or even the God business, I am in the B’nai Mitzvah business.

I am responsible for “lifelong learning” at the congregation where I work. If something educational is happening in the synagogue involving anyone from birth to death, I have a hand in it. Given the range of ages and venues in which I work, including weekly parasha classes, the Hebrew school, youth groups, and cultural arts, it is amazing how often a child’s preparation for her Bat Mitzvah is the center of the conversation. It comes out in conversations with 7th graders who cannot wait for their journey to end and in the anxiety I hear from parents of four–year-olds, nine years before the event will take place.

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