Our philosophy is to enable as many students as possible to become b’nai mitzvah. This sometimes may mean that a child does not complete this process until the age of 14 or 15. We strive to be flexible with our requirements and to make this process one that the student and parents can be proud of and feel a sense of achievement around. The Shir Shalom value is to maintain the religious ceremony as the center of the process and to keep the “trimmings” as simple as possible.
Families that are preparing for a b’nai mitzvah program have a central role in preparing for this coming of age event. About 18 months before the child’s 13th birthday, families begin attending once a month a special Saturday morning service and workshop. Children are required to attend at least one Sabbath Service a month, and to complete a mitzvah project. Most of our children learn to chant a portion of their parsha from the Torah, as well as learn to lead many of the prayers in the service. The Rabbi tutors the children and with the Education Director leads the b’nai mitzvah meetings. Adult members of the community act as mentors to the child, working with him or her to write the d’var torah speech and formulate the mitzvah project. Families are also matched with other experienced families to help them with parts of the process such as the Kiddush after the ceremony.