Welcome to the B’nei Mitzvah Club!
The B’nei Mitzvah Club at Temple Emanuel is a unique experience that brings together students in 6th and 7th grade to learn, pray, socialize and celebrate with each other. Now in its second year, the B’nei Mitzvah Club is the result of ongoing reflection regarding the current Torah Center programming and worship experience for our students and their families, and the desire to improve it. Designed to create a cohort community, the newly structured program will provide opportunities to build and sustain relationships during the B’nei Mitzvah year and beyond.
- Students will know that they are part of a cohort community whose members learn and celebrate together.
- Students will understand the significance of becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
- Students will master the synagogue skills needed to be full participants in our Temple worship, both as the shaliah tzibur (worship leader) and as an attendee at Shabbat services.
- Students will know the responsibilities inherent with becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah and engage in tikkun olam (repairing the world) and Mitzvah opportunities.
The curriculum spans two years (6th and 7th grade) and includes five key components:
- Grade-level Learning:
At times, students will be in class with only their peers who are in the same grade. There are certain topics to cover and content expectations to reach that will be the focus of this class time.
a. 6th grade
Students will continue their Hebrew studies…now with a greater flexibility in the scheduling of their weekly two hours of learning. [See schedule for details.] This class will focus on prayer mastery.
ii. Prayer workshops
These sessions are designed to take students beyond the technical skills required to lead the B’nei mitzvah service. In them, students will explore and discover what prayer and praying means to them.
iii. Mitzvah Project Workshop
Students will learn about tikkun olam (repairing the world) and how the things they do can help make our world a better place. Students will begin to think about their individual B’nei Mitzvah project as well as what activities they would like to participate in as part of the group.
iv. Torah Program
Students and Parents will have an opportunity to see the Torah portion that will be read/chanted during the student’s B’nei Mitzvah Service.
b. 7th Grade
i. Lessons From the Holocaust
In this course, students will address the topic of the Shoah (Holocaust) from many perspectives. Several different mediums will be used in class: short lectures with literature, film, and primary sources to encourage discussion and reflection. Students and their parents will visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC on March 10, 2019.
ii. Mitzvah Project Presentation
7th grade students (and those becoming B’nei Mitzvah near the end of 6th grade) will present their Mitzvah projects to their classmates during the combined class period. This will give them a chance to practice public speaking, to provide an opportunity for the class to contribute, and to give the 6th graders ideas for their own projects.
2. Combined Learning:
In addition to grade level learning, there will be opportunities for the students in both grades 6 and 7 to mingle and learn together.
a. 6th & 7th Grade:
i. 6/7 Mifgash (Encounter)
On Sunday mornings when both grades are in attendance, students will study texts and reflect on Jewish values together. Students will have opportunities for leadership, both within the Torah Center and in service to the Temple Emanuel and greater Pittsburgh community.
3. Shabbat Morning Services/B’nei Mitzvah Celebrations
Over the past year, attending classmates’ B’nei Mitzvah services proved to be very successful at creating community among our students. It seems that when they share in each other’s accomplishments, they feel more connected to each other. In addition to celebrating with their peers, attending Shabbat services becomes the practicum to complement the tutorial process. Students are expected to bring either their B’nei Mitzvah folder or their classroom siddur (prayer book) to the service. Each Shabbat morning that the B’nei Mitzvah Club meets will include breakfast followed by an interactive learning activity and services.
Following the service, many families have chosen to acknowledge and honor the class by asking all students B’nei Mitzvah Club students to join the Bar/Bat Mitzvah in reciting the Kiddish (blessing over the wine) and Motsi (blessing over the bread).
4. Tikkun Olam/Mitzvah Projects
Becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah is an awesome responsibility that includes the Jewish mandate to do tikkun olam, to make the world a better place. Each student is asked to do an individual Mitzvah project in their commitment. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in projects with their peers, to be part of a group “Mitzvah Corps” that works together to make improvements in the South Hills Community.
5. Youth Group Activities/Social Opportunities
Throughout the program, students will have ample time to develop and sustain friendships. A number of activities and events are in the works to bring students together outside of the traditional religious school classroom. Additionally, each class date includes dedicated break time, complete with a snack and cool environment (the newly decorated Youth Lounge) to just hang out with each other.
The first event on the calendar is the B’nei Mitzvah Club scheduled for Saturday, August 25, 2018. While the whole year is available for your review, please note that it is in draft form and is subject to change.
Parents are an important part of the 6/7 B’nei Mitzvah Club. Thank you for being a part of this exciting endeavor! In late August/Early September, you will receive information regarding the many ways that you can be involved.
Additionally, we need your input: we are relying on you to give us honest feedback on your family’s experiences. Throughout the year, a number of assessment tools will be used to determine what is succeeding and what needs to be tweaked. Your responses will help us to improve in order to assure success.
FAQs (our list so far!)
If I become Bat/Bar Mitzvah at the end of 6th grade, do I continue in the B’nei Mitzvah Club in 7th grade?
Do I have to invite the entire 6th and 7th Grade classes to my child’s Bat/Bar Mitzvah?
We certainly hope that parents will choose to do so. The B’nei Mitzvah Club meets on Shabbat mornings from 9:15-12:30. Students will attend the service as part of the practicum experience. Since the service is open to all (regardless of invitation) all will be included. If you have a kiddish luncheon at Temple following services, that too must be open to all who attend Shabbat worship….However, you may choose not to invite the entire class to other festivities – an evening party or the like.
What should my child wear to Saturday classes/services?
Your child should come dressed appropriately for Shabbat morning services, which is a bit dressier than what most congregants wear on Friday nights. Boys can wear khakis and a nice shirt (tie optional) or a suit if they have one (most do once they become Bar Mitzvah!). Girls can wear nice pants/skirt and a shirt or dress if they want. All clothing should be comfortable for sitting and standing for long periods of time. Students can wear whatever they want for Sunday and Wednesday classes.