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B'nai Mitzvah Revolution Materials

Bar/Bat Mitzvah

You may be surprised to learn that bar mitzvah observances we think of as very traditional are actually quite recent. The most comprehensive piece on this topic is:

More than 70 years ago synagogues and Jewish educational organizations banded together to require several years of religious school before boys could celebrate their b’nai mitzvah (there were no b’not mitzvah in those days). The purpose of this policy was to increase involvement in the synagogue. But, it has had the opposite effect. Treating bar/bat mitzvah as the goal and end point of Jewish education has degraded Hebrew learning, stifled efforts to expose students to the depth and meaning of communal worship, and led to high numbers of students dropping out of religious school immediately after the “big day.”

For a thorough exploration of this phenomenon and how it came to be the status quo, see:


Understanding Adolescents

Learning Units for Congregational Teams

The learning units below were developed for congregations in the Active Learning Network and are now available to all congregations interested in revolutionizing b’nai mitzvah. Each unit includes a recorded webinar, an assignment/protocol for your team, and a peer feedback protocol which can be used with another congregation or other stakeholders in your congregation.

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