At Old York Road Temple-Beth Am we pride ourselves in our ability to make the b. mitzvah experience a positive learning experience for each child and his/her family. Beginning with the child’s education in our Mensch Lab, the family is involved in a variety of educational activities that encourage learning and doing “Jewish” together. Our pre-b. mitzvah family education programs include learning about the prayer book in 3rd grade, learning about g’milut chasadim (acts of living kindness) in grades 4-6, and an in depth look at the meaning of Jewish “adulthood” and commandedness in the 5th and 6th grades.
Our students also participate in a rigorous Hebrew program which prepares them for their participation in the Shabbat morning service when they are called to the Torah as a b. mitzvah.
Every child at Old York Road Temple-Beth Am receives a Jewish education according to his/her ability. This is the case for the b. mitzvah as well. All students begin their formal training with a b. mitzvah teacher about 11-12 months before the actual service. These are individual lessons for preparation of chanting the Torah and Haftarah as well as for review of the prayers.
Our clergy and leadership work with every family to adapt the b. mitzvah service to special circumstances and necessary accommodations. We want students to feel as though they push themselves in this process; we want them to feel that they have achieved something; but we do not want them to feel that the experience of reaching Jewish meaning in this life cycle moment is beyond their grasp. Through close coordination with the Rabbis, Cantor, teachers and parents, the Shabbat morning service is tailored to enable each child to successfully participate in becoming a b. mitzvah.