A great way for Jewish professionals and volunteers who work with and provide programming for people in interfaith relationships to locate resources and trainings to build more welcome into their Jewish communities; connect with and learn from each other; and publicize and enhance their programs and services.
Sponsored by a grant from The Combined Jewish Philanthropies, in this informal workshop, Rabbi David Kudan will explore the meaning of Jewish customs related to the birth of a child through the rite of Bar and Bat Mitzvah.
When a child is born, parents are given an opportunity to welcome their child into a family and community who will help to raise their child, transmit values and traditions. The arrival of a child is an occasion to link the generations by recounting family stories. It is a time to reflect on what it means to bring the child into a web of nurturing relationships that will enrich his or her life and bring hope and joy to others. Parents confer a cultural and religious identity on the child, in keeping with the parents' beliefs and affiliations. In interfaith families, special attention must be given to including both families in a way that is authentic and respectful; that honors both the parents' commitments and the essential and continuing role of relatives in imparting the dual heritage to the new family member.
Bar and Bat Mitzvah is a coming of age ceremony -- which is the Jewish expression of the universal impulse to acknowledge a young person's transition from childhood to the beginning of the path to adulthood. It is an opportunity for parents to reflect on the meaning of their role as parents, and to honor the young person's achievements and increasing independence. It is a celebration of identity -- both that which is bequeathed by parents, and that which is discovered and embraced by the adolescent. In becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, we emphasize the importance of "Mitzvah" which is both a commandment and a good deed. The Bar/Bat mitzvah becomes subject to the demands of Mitzvah -- of being responsible for his/her own spiritual and ethical direction. Keeping the focus on this aspect of the preparation, helping the young person become a leader and example to others, adds deep significance to this process and takes pressure off the "performance" aspect of the day of the ceremony.
We will discuss the customs and traditions relating to these key steps on the path of a Jewish life, with a special focus on ways to personalize these ceremonies and make the process of preparation express the uniqueness of one's family, experiences, and understanding of the meaning of Judaism.