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soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Jewish Childrearing Related Questions (12/12)
Section - Question 21.7.4: B'nai Mitzvah: What are the characteristics of a good b'nai mitzvah program?

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   An ideal program would start when the child is born and extend well
   into early adulthood. Be cautious about any program that claims that
   to prepare a child completely to fulfill his or her entire
   responsibilities as a Jew in a limited period of time. A program that
   encourages the children to pursue a lifetime of Jewish learning is
   better than one that lets him or her "cram" for just a year. The
   program should emphasize that Bar/Bat Mitzvah is the beginning, not
   the end, of a child's religious education.
   In any program a parent wants to have their child learn and be able to
   do the standard requirements of that program for their ceremony. At
   the very outset there should either be someone who will explain the
   entire process, or some written materials that will offer a guide to
   the congregation's program. Not every child is the same and not every
   bar/bat mitzvah is the same. Rather, due to a variety of variables
   (intermarriage, divorice, etc) some children are often facing more
   than just the task of Hebrew and leading the service.
   A key characteristic is parental involvement. When parents are
   involved, even when they might not be able to help with Hebrew they
   send an important message. They tell the child that this is important
   to them the parents. A program needs to have a role that the parent
   plays and places some responsibility beyond the financial and the
   party. Our children need to feel our presence in the journey and
   struggle to accomplish their bar/bat mitzvah. As a parent, you need to
   understand the program, the Heberw and the expectations on both your
   child and you. This will insure that it will be a family experience
   and that Torah is truly passed from generation to generation.
   Another factor is whether the program provides the motavation to
   continue Jewish education. Far too often, we lose our children to
   Jewish education after the Bar/Bat Mitzvah. The program must have
   characteristics that will keep the child motivated to stay in a Jewish
   learning environment. In general, look for programs that offer
   extra-curricular activities in addition to just "parsha" tutoring, to
   demonstrate that Judaism is something we live both in the synagogue
   and away from it, and to encourage lifelong religious involvement with

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