Soc.Culture.Jewish Newsgroups
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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< Q21.7.3 TOC Q21.7.5 >

Question 21.7.4:
B'nai Mitzvah: What are the characteristics of a good b'nai mitzvah program?


An ideal program would start when the child is born and extend well into early adulthood. Be cautious about any program that claims that to prepare a child completely to fulfill his or her entire responsibilities as a Jew in a limited period of time. A program that encourages the children to pursue a lifetime of Jewish learning is better than one that lets him or her "cram" for just a year. The program should emphasize that Bar/Bat Mitzvah is the beginning, not the end, of a child's religious education.

In any program a parent wants to have their child learn and be able to do the standard requirements of that program for their ceremony. At the very outset there should either be someone who will explain the entire process, or some written materials that will offer a guide to the congregation's program. Not every child is the same and not every bar/bat mitzvah is the same. Rather, due to a variety of variables (intermarriage, divorice, etc) some children are often facing more than just the task of Hebrew and leading the service.

A key characteristic is parental involvement. When parents are involved, even when they might not be able to help with Hebrew they send an important message. They tell the child that this is important to them the parents. A program needs to have a role that the parent plays and places some responsibility beyond the financial and the party. Our children need to feel our presence in the journey and struggle to accomplish their bar/bat mitzvah. As a parent, you need to understand the program, the Heberw and the expectations on both your child and you. This will insure that it will be a family experience and that Torah is truly passed from generation to generation.

Another factor is whether the program provides the motavation to continue Jewish education. Far too often, we lose our children to Jewish education after the Bar/Bat Mitzvah. The program must have characteristics that will keep the child motivated to stay in a Jewish learning environment. In general, look for programs that offer extra-curricular activities in addition to just "parsha" tutoring, to demonstrate that Judaism is something we live both in the synagogue and away from it, and to encourage lifelong religious involvement with peers.

The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

[Got Questions?]Hopefully, the FAQ will provide the answer to your questions. If it doesn't, please drop Email to The FAQ maintainer will endeavor to direct your query to an appropriate individual that can answer it. If you would like to be part of the group to which the maintainer directs questions, please drop a note to the FAQ maintainer at

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© (c) 1993-2004 Daniel P. Faigin <>