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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Alternatives to Bar Mitzvah Training?

I am wondering what the alternatives are to Bar Mitzvah training. I enrolled the boys in Hebrew School this upcoming school year which involves Tuesday evening, First Friday evening and another Friday or Saturday morning service per month, and EACH Sunday.

Six months before the Bar Mitzvah Ceremony, the student is suppose to go to every Friday and Saturday morning service and who knows what else. This cuts into dinner hour, fitness, getting away, and a lot more and leaves me drained, not refreshed.

I would love to love going to service and hanging out at the shul. BUT I don't. Each year I re-evaluate whether or not I should enroll they boys and in fact each week, I contemplate if I should drop out. The way I get along the best, is to drop them off and leave and don't get involved. (Doesn't sound much like a homeschool mother concerned and interested in the boys education, does it?)

I never went to services growing up. Never ever. I turned out Okay. I feel a connection to my ancient descendants. But I don't feel connected to this local congregation. I like the idea of the boys learning Hebrew and some history and preserving some heritage. Maybe this year, I won't be so hard on myself and the weekend attendance requirement. With William being turning 12, I can't help but think about the Bar Mitzvah training. William would be the first one in a few generations to have a Bar Mitzvah. It's not like this is something I would have help with or someone paved the path for me. This is one place in my life that if I pull this off, I need some help, big time.

Certainly I am not the only one has has struggled with this? I can't be the only one who finds congregational membership (aka organized religion support) a pain. Is a BAr Mitzvah a Spiritual event or a fund raiser for the congregation? I do not bring my problems and struggles to the shul (aren't you suppose to find support?). I don't see how I can pull of a Bar Mitzvah training and ceremony for one, then turn around and do it again, and then AGAIN. I'd MUCH rather work and write and find other ways to service my community. Isn't it all about what you do when you leave the service and not about how much you go and politics?


Cantor Debbi Ballard said...

Funny you should ask!

My practice is growing in South Florida, by leaps and bounds! With articles like the one that Gary Rosenblatt just published in "The Jewish Week", and blogs like yours, families are asking this question DAILY.

I work privately with families just like yours, creating a beautiful experience for children, and parents, with one on one lessons, and a beautiful, personalized service that we create together.

I welcome you to take a look at my website, and see what I do. I have even begun working with many families through a combination of video chat and personal visits. My families love the creativity our relationship enables, my work with my children creates engaged Jewish students, and everyone is happy.

Take a look at my website, and feel free to ask me any questions - I would love to share more information with you!

Cantor Debbi Ballard

Permission to Mother said...

Cantor Debbi,
Thank you for responding to my blog post. I am looking foward to reading your website, blog and the article and learning about your services. I will be in touch shortly.


Cantor Debbi Ballard said...

Hi Denise,
As promised, I'm putting additional page links on to your blog, about my website, my practice, and what I do.

For starters, my Bar/Bat Mitzvah page is a good place to check out.

The article I mentioned here in my first post, can be found here.
I have felt compelled to provide an avenue for fellow Jews who wish to remain Jewishly connected, but in their own way. We are often expected to subscribe - or not - and live with the way things are, but I feel strongly that people should be able to feel Jewishly connected, in the way that fits best with their lives.
Controversial, I know - but not for the people who appreciate me, and that is why I do what I do.

Hopefully, this gives you a better idea - oh - also - I have a separate page on my site for virtual lessons. I am working with families outside of Florida. I am teaching the children, and will travel to their location to officiate the ceremony, when the time comes. We meet as a family once a month, to make sure that lessons and rituals are being followed through in the home, as I believe strongly that the home is the most critical learning location a child will ever have.

So - there you go for now. Let me know if I can tell you anything else.

Permission to Mother said...

I have read through the links you provided me with. I appreciate your response on my blog. I know others will, too.

I have your e-mail address and will be in touch. Feel free to check in on me, too, and send me any updates.


hopefaithbelieve said...

Okay, I'm still chuckling on this one! Even though I went to hebrew school twice a week for nearly six years, when it came time for Bat Mitzvah training, it was just too much. My mother decided to allow me to have an "special" 13th birthday party that focused on the right of passage rather than reading from the torah. As my boys get older I wonder what I will do for them. I mean, I already have my three year old in Jewish pre-school, so I'm re-learning what it means to have judaism in my life, but mostly I just drop him off and pick him up.

Anonymous said...

::nods:: I completely agree. I am supposed to be going through conversion. M is Jewish. I was raised Catholic. One of the biggest problems that I am having is that I can't connect with the shul. My two choices the one in PSL and the one in Vero are very different. I think you go to the one in PSL? I just felt uncomfortable there. I went to the one in Vero. It felt much more comfortable, but I went during a BahMitzvah (did I spell that correctly?) and the mother was very JAP. I couldn't believe it. I thought it was just a stereotype! Anyway, this lady said that I should leave! The rabbi actually followed me out to the car and invited me back in...can you imagine? I haven't been back since. C and M

mother in israel said...

Hi Denise,
First of all, thanks for visiting my blog.
You say that you feel connected to your ancient ancestors but have a harder time finding a congregation you like.
Jewish identity isn't something that comes automatically. In previous generations it was much easier. But in our open society we have to work hard to instill Jewish identity in our children. I live in Israel, we are Orthodox as are most of our friends, my kids speak Hebrew and go to Orthodox schools, but I still don't think it's something to take for granted. There is just so much out there that runs contrary to Jewish values, so much secularism.
Second, being Jewish is not just what rituals we follow and our ethical standards. It is also about being part of the Jewish community. And not all Jews are so easy to get along with, and they certainly don't share all our views on politics and other important issues. In Hebrew we say "zeh mah she-yesh." That is the reality, and we have to make the best of it. Sometimes we can move or find a different synagogue, and sometimes we can't. But one thing is certain--we can't isolate ourselves from other Jews and continue to practice Judaism for any length of time.
My son is 12.5 so we are also thinking about bar mitzvahs.

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