Bar Mitzvah

Masorti Movement In Israel Speaks Out To President Rivlin

Yesterday, the Masorti Movement for Conservative Judaism in Israel sent a letter to Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, signed by the leaders of every major Conservative Jewish organization, urging him to reconsider the cancellation of a bar and bat mitzvah ceremony for children with disabilities.

The mayor of Rehovot, Israel had cancelled the bar mitzvah last month because it was taking place in a Conservative, not Orthodox, synagogue. That move sparked outrage on social media from the progressive Jewish community in Israel and around the world. In response, representatives of the Masorti Movement for Conservative Judaism and officials from the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs worked on a compromise with members of the President of Israel's office. The parents and children were happy with the outcome and it seemed like the ceremony was set to take place.

Not So Special: My Bar Mitzvah Year, 50 Years Later

In 1965, the phrase “special needs” hadn’t yet been coined. I felt just like the other 15 students — excited about our Bar Mitzvahs, but bored by the four hours of preparation each week.

Bar Mitzvah Singer Nicki Minaj Tries To Make It Right With The Jews

04/28/2015
Web Editor

Is Nicki Minaj trying to make it right with the Jews? Probably not, but she sure did make a lot of young Jews very happy when she performed at a Bar Mitzvah in New York City over the weekend.

"Get a load of these little hunks I met last night @ the Bar Mitzvah

A Camp, A Bar Mitzvah And A Family's Respite

They say that it takes a village to raise a child.  I say that it takes a village… and a synagogue or three, an edah (Amitzim) and a family camp (Ohr Lanu) at Machaneh Ramah and a loving, supportive family.

On Sunday, October 12, 2014, my son, Jacob Gruen, became a Bar Mitzvah at age 13 at Adat Ari El in Valley Village, CA.  He led the Sh’ma, received his talit and blessed it, carried the torah, had an aliyah and read the torah, marched with a lulav and an etrog and said the Kiddush. He also sang a number of songs, including a solo of Adamah B'Shamayim (which he first learned at Camp Ramah) with his Kolot Tikvah choir led by Cantor Michael Stein of Temple Aliyah.  To many, this would not seem extraordinary.  However, Jacob has autism, which manifests in him as moderate speech and social deficits and academic delays.

Bar Mitzvah Twins: Roi And Zachary

When I was little I thought that becoming a bar mitzvah was about learning to read the Torah and putting on tefillin. But as it gets closer I realize it is also about taking on some important adult responsibilities, like thinking of others. So in preparation for my upcoming bar mitzvah this spring I decided to "twin" with a child with disabilities from Beit Issie Shapiro in Ra’anana, Israel.

I know a lot about Beit Issie because my parents have been involved there since before I was born. It’s not only a school for children with developmental disabilities, but also a place where they teach therapists from all over the world new things.

Post Bar Mitzvah, Communal Role Grows For Boy With Disability

So, Jewish life after Bar Mitzvah… It is hard to believe that there is life after Bar Mitzvah!  Since our son Avi was diagnosed with autism as a toddler, we have been very goal-driven.  What did he need to achieve his goals?  How can we maximize his potential?  What will his role be in the Jewish community, if any?  Until quite recently, this was very much a blur.  Some days the answers seemed clear; other days, we had no idea.  

As I wrote in a blog a few months back, Avi’s Bar Mitzvah was more than we could have ever imagined. 

Avi puts on tefillin with his father. Courtesy of Michelle Steinhart

Drake's SNL Bar Mitzvah Flashback

We knew Canada-born rap star Drake was Jewish, but he went full-blown MOT during his turn as host of Saturday Night Live this weekend, offering a comic look at how his African American and Jewish relatives came together to celebrate his bar mitzvah. 

Please see our Culture View blog post about Drake's earlier "HYFR" bar mitzvah-themed video.

What A Bar Mitzvah Taught Us, and Our Son

Ever since our son was diagnosed with autism, at age two and a half, I'd been wondering about his bar mitzvah.  I come from a family of shulgoers who lead services, read from the Torah, and sing. My husband does, too. He and I have been teaching b’nei mitzvah for decades, and the question of our son’s bar mitzvah loomed large for 10 years.

Avi and his uncle, rejoicing at Avi's Bar Mitzvah. Photo courtesy Michelle Steinhart

Brooklyn Boy Killed By Van One Month Before Bar Mitzvah

10/10/2013

NEW YORK  — A Brooklyn boy was struck and killed by a van one month before his bar mitzvah.

At His Untraditional Bar Mitzvah, A Son With Autism Leads The Congregation

A piece of my soul died when we decided that Ben’s autism would necessitate a reexamination of a conventional Bar Mitzvah service. Having guided so many young people through their studies towards becoming Bar or Bat Mitzvah, I yearned to have the unique privilege of preparing my own son, my firstborn, the way my father, also a rabbi, had long ago prepared me.

Mom and Ben at the Walk for Autism. Ben cut the ribbon to start everybody off. Photo courtesy Rabbi Rebecca Schorr
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