Click on the topics below to view all resources in that category.
- BMR Theory of Change: an explanation of what we believe will lead to new ideas and models of b’nai mitzvah. The Theory of Change is also available as an interactive graphic.
- What are Value Tensions and why are they so useful?
- Visioning Exercises: exercises to do in congregational teams to come to shared vision around b’nai mitzvah.
- Adolescents and Adolescence: a recorded webinar presentation by Rabbi Bradley Solmsen.
- Parent Discussion Guide: a discussion guide for reflecting with parents in the year after b’nai mitzvah. This guide has been adapted from Rabbi Nicki Greninger of Temple Isaiah in Lafayette, CA.
- Adaptation Continuum: First presented at the 2nd gathering of the LA gathering.
- Questions to Guide Discussion of B’nai Mitzvah Innovations
- Action Research: Understanding what Action Research is and how it is used in the Pilot Cohort.
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:
- Ivan G. Marcus, Bar Mitzvah, Bat Mitzvah, Confirmation, The Jewish Life Cycle: Rites Of Passage From Biblical To Modern Times, page 82
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:
- Lisa Schachter, “Why Bonnie and Ronnie Can’t ‘Read’ (the Siddur)”
- Let’s Turn Hebrew Learning on its Head (video)
- Lifsa Schachter, “Hebrew Through Movement for Part-Time Jewish Educational Programs” (Nachama Skolnik Moskowitz and Paula Sass, Eds.)
- HebrewThroughMovement.org A website from the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland (JECC) that supports the implementation of Hebrew Through Movement (TPR) in part–time Jewish educational settings.
- What is Hebrew Through Movement? An Overview (video)
- “The Hebrew Project: As We Enter 5772” A summary of the key ideas learned through “The Hebrew Project.“ This list is useful for considering changes that could better shape Hebrew and t’fillah curriculum in the pre-b’nai mitzvah years.
- Let’s Learn Hebrew Side-by-Side A website from the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland (JECC) that supports a major shift in the way we teach Hebrew decoding in our part-time settings.
- Daryl Messinger, Creating a Culture of Change – A Change Agent’s Perspective
- Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Ten Reasons People Resist Change
- Peter M. Senge, The Leader’s New Work: Building Learning Organizations
- Michael G. Fullan and Matthew B. Miles, Getting Reform Right: What Works and What Doesn’t
- William Bridges, “It Isn’t the Changes that Do You In,” Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change, page 3
- Fine, Allison, “The Networked Nonprofit Prequel.”
- Micki M. Caskey and Vincent A. Anfara, Jr., Developmental Characteristics of Young Adolescents
- Rabbi Bradley Solmsen, Adolescents and Adolescence, recorded webinar presentation.
- Engaging Jewish Teens: A Study of New York Teens, Parents and Practitioners, from The Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University, funded by UJA-Federation of New York (2011)
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.
- Learning Unit #1: Adolescents and Adolescence
- Recorded Webinar 1
- Assignment 1 Meeting Outline
- Assignment 1 Template
- Peer Feedback Protocol for Assignment 1
- Suggested reading: Research from the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE): Young Adolescents’ Developmental Characteristics
- Learning Unit #2: Value Tensions
- Recorded Webinar 2
- Assignment 2 Meeting Outline
- Assignment 2 Template
- Peer Feedback Protocol Assignment #2
- Learning Unit #3: Community Engagement
- Learning Unit #4: B’nai Mitzvah Innovations