- Gender: Male
- Children: 3
Since making aliyah in 1993 and living in Israel, I have conducted non-traditional Bar and Bat Mitzvot ceremonies here and abroad. Initially it began with families from the liberal congregation where I had been the Director of Education and Youth before my move. These families requested ceremonies that were personalized and were conducted at places like the beautiful lookouts of Jerusalem or the sun-setting beaches at the Mediterranean, at historical sites such as in the Jerusalem Old City or at Masada, or at truly original Israeli locations like the Judean desert or on Kibbutzim or even at a Bedouin tent! I would put together a rather liberal ceremony, working with the family, empowering all who were interested in participating and ensuring that it had meaning for all members of the family and friends.
In the late '90's I began working with families with modern-day Eastern European backgrounds who had not been able to have a Bar or Bat Mitzvah during the Communist era or with the Orthodox dominated segment of their community. Whether it was here in Israel or in Eastern Europe, we found ways to conduct ceremonies for those that wanted to “officially” become a B’nai Mitzvah, a member of our people, at whatever age and with whatever background.
As a guide with Birthright in its initial years, I was asked several more times to conduct Bnai Mitzvot ceremonies for young adults who had also not had the opportunity to go through a ritual that in their minds solidified their position as a member of our tribe. It was truly a pleasure to see young people feel they were part of something much larger than themselves, a connection to a people, a land, and a past.
To this day, I continue to do ceremonies with families and Birthright groups who are touring Israel, and to be honest, I still find tears of joy and meaning in my eyes when doing these gatherings.