B’nai mitzvah is an important milestone in a family and young person’s life. It is in the public ritual of bar or bat mitzvah that a child expresses how his or her learning and experiences have shaped the young Jew who s/he is becoming. As we prepare our young people for this transition, we are guided by a vision of Jewish life that is inspiring, informed by knowledge of the Jewish tradition, responsible to individual needs, and enriched by community.
Har HaShem is on a journey to holistically rethink the education, preparation and ritual of b’nai mitzvah and beyond. As a pilot congregation in the URJ’s B’nai Mitzvah Revolution, we are working to revolutionize our approach to b’nai mitzvah to one in which the ritual emerges from the student’s learning rather than being guided by a list of prayers to master. We want our young people to have an experience with prayer, God wrestling, and tikkun olam, and for those experiences to guide a coming of age ritual in which the young person teaches his or her community about how Judaism can be a meaningful guide to his or her life. Out of 900 Reform congregations nationally, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, at the URJ Biennial in 2013 specifically mentioned our program: "Har Hashem in Boulder, CO, felt that b'nai mitzvah students spent too much time learning to decode and chant prayers, so they added a new curriculum that emphasizes God-wrestling and text studies that undergird hands-on projects of tikkun olam." (at 31:53 in the video)
Har HaShem also highly values the diverse learning needs of our students and works with students' strengths to design a ritual that will enable them to shine through a significant accomplishment. There are many paths to becoming a bar or bat mitzvah at Har HaShem, all of which enable our families to individualize their experience while celebrating together as part of a community that lasts beyond the ritual moment. We invite you to explore our many learning programs.
As we seek to instill in our students a deep and profound connection to the Jewish tradition and the Jewish people, we hope to:
- Inspire young people by helping them find a meaningful connection to Jewish spirituality, tradition and ritual.
- Guide young people to use Jewish values, rooted in Torah, to make significant decisions in their lives.
- Transmit to young people significant knowledge of the Jewish spiritual tradition and Jewish sacred texts.
- Foster each young person's discovery of his/her unique path for engaging with and expressing Jewish ideas and teachings.
- Help parents to deepen their own knowledge and practice of Judaism.
- Generate connections and community amongst both students and parents.
- Formally extend the Jewish learning journey beyond the bar/bat mitzvah year.