Ben and Bernice Fiterman B’nai Mitzvah Program
Beth El’s Fiterman B’nai Mitzvah program seeks to raise students, knowledgeable of, inspired by, and committed to, Jewish tradition, for that is truly what “bar/bat mitzvah” means. In the course of the program, students and their families become well versed in synagogue services and form deep ties to each other and to our community.
For further information and questions, please contact:
Mary Baumgarten, Education Director, at email@example.com or
Jill Blustin, Interim Ritual and B’nai Mitzvah Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or
In order to celebrate a bar/bat mitzvah at Beth El, a child must attend either Talmud Torah (our afternoon community Hebrew school) or the Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School (a full time Jewish day school) and continue these programs through the end of their bar/bat mitzvah school year. Students who choose the Talmud Torah track begin their studies in Beth El’s Shorashim program (K-1 Religious School) and continue at the Talmud Torah in 2nd grade.
Students develop a love of Torah and see it as a never ending source of wisdom to lead their lives. They feel a sense of ownership of “their” Torah portion.
- Students study “their” parashah (Torah portion), prepare and deliver a d’var Torah that is personal, relevant and meaningful. This process begins when families attend the Beit Midrash community study evening. There, parents and children study b’chevrutah (in study-pairs) as the first step to writing a d’var Torah (sermon) which will be shared with the congregation on the bar/bat mitzvah.
- Students acquire the skills to leyn (chant) any parasha or haftara. They learn the basic Torah trope in TaRBuT (see below) and refine their skills in Torah+ (Sunday Mornings). During the year before their bar or bat mitzvah, students meet for classes every Sunday from 9:00 am – 11:00 am. Students learn their individual Torah portions. They also participate in a “Mitzvah Program,” studying gemilat chesed (acts of kindness), daven with the daily minyan, learn to lay tefillin and meet with the rabbis for special study sessions.
Students master life-long synagogue and home skills that form the foundation of a rich, spiritual life. They understand the mechanics and the meaning of these rituals. Rather than “performing” for an “audience,” b’nai mitzvah use these spiritual tools to enrich their lives.
- At a minimum, students learn and retain the ability to lead shacharit services and home rituals.
- They are competent with the Hebrew, nusach (proper melody), choreography and ritual items unique to davening such as tallit and tefillin.
- These and other synagogue skills are mastered in TaRBuT. Meeting on most Shabbatot of the school year (9:30 am – Noon) beginning in the 5th grade, students move at their own pace learning the shacharit service, Torah and Haftarah trope. Advanced students study Kabbalat Shabbat, the Torah service, and Musaf. Those who have graduated from the program are eligible for Rimonim where they can prepare to be teachers in the program. TaRBuT (an acronym for Tefillot (prayers), Ruach (spirit), B’rakhot (blessings) and Torah).
Students understand that mitzvot are more than “good deeds” but rather the Jewish way of holiness. Following their bar/bat mitzvah ceremony, they take on new, additional responsibilities. Having “tried on” 13 (or better, 18 mitzvot), students are inspired to incorporate at least one new, substantial mitzvah into their lives. Students learn about mitzvot in the Sunday morning program (see above) and by visiting “Mitzvah Heroes” on Shabbat morning.
To be effective, b’nai mitzvah studies must involve the whole family. Therefore, regular parent education and family education programs are offered along with family Shabbat dinners, a retreat and Special Persons/Grandparent’s Day. In this way, students and their families feel closer to the Beth El community (fellow congregants and clergy) than before they began the program. They become “regulars” at Shabbat services and go on to participate in the life of Beth El and the broader Jewish community.