Sundays 10:00 am – 11:45 pm
Wednesdays 4:00 – 5:30 pm
Our Kavannah (Intention)
B’nai Mitzvah is an ancient rite of passage. At JCA, we seek to provide a vibrant and multi-dimensional experience for Jewish adolescents that requires them to do more than go through the motions. It requires them to engage with themselves, Torah and the world in a way that transforms them. Parents are involved in every step of this process and are also counseled on ways they can support their children before, during and after this momentous rite of passage. We employ diverse program elements such as text study, outdoor education, arts, research, discussion, writing, public speaking, and field trips. Our hope is that this two-year program helps our students to step into their Jewish adulthood with a sense of purpose, agency and joy.
Our Pedagogical Foundation
- Emergent learning – Our program supports students in examining their areas of interest through a Jewish lens. For example, what does Jewish tradition say about the themes of your favorite book or about immigrant refugees? World events and the student’s personal interests and issues help inform our curriculum and trajectory.
- Leadership – Our program gives students leadership in our school, in their classrooms, and on the bima. For example, B’nai Mitzvah teens can choose to tutor younger students in Hebrew or serve on the junior youth group planning board.
- Community – Our program nurtures peer-based identity and friendships through group building initiatives, an overnight retreat, the junior youth group, and day-long and multi-day field trips to local, regional (i.e. Washington D.C.) and perhaps international (i.e. Israel) sites of import.
- Spirituality – Our program encourages participants to explore their relationship with Judaism and with God through personalizing traditional ritual objects, examining God language, and understanding the context of Reconstructionist Judaism within the wider scope of Jewish tradition.
Our Tradition: Torah, Avodah, Gemilut Hasadim
Simon the Justice, the high priest in fourth century BCE, says in Pirkei Avot (Teaching of the Sages) that the world stands on Torah (study and mizvot), Avodah (worship), and Gemilut Hasadim (acts of loving kindness).
The requirements of the B’nai Mitzvah program align with these traditional tenets:
- Study the meaning of your Torah portion and Haftarah with your family and the rabbi and write a D’var Torah which you will read during your bar or bat mitzvah
- Participate in relevant classes and field trips at JCA Kesher – at least 75% attendance required
- Attend Saturday morning services with your parents – 10 per year in both 6th and 7th grades
- Compose and complete britot and reflections for each unit of study throughout the year.
- Compose your own prayer to recite before the congregation
- Study with your tutor to prepare and ultimately lead: your Torah portion and blessings; your Haftarah portion and blessings (Shabbat mornings only); Friday night kiddush; prayers for the service as recommended by the rabbi and your tutor
- Participate in JV Corps
- Create your own Tikkun Olam Project (TOP) over the course of your two-year program, participating in our Tikkun Olam Fair at the end of your 7th grade year and presenting the results of your project to the community
We honor differences in learning styles and capabilities by structuring our programs to be conducive to learning differences. We work directly with families and individuals to create learning plans that meet the needs of both the learner and the JCA. Periodic workshops provide resources for raising and educating people of varying abilities and backgrounds.
If you would like to discuss alternative paths towards becoming B’nai Mitzvah, please contact us. We would be more than happy to work with you to make this important experience accessible and joyful for your family.