B’Nai/B’rit Mitzvah

JRC is part of the Reconstructionist movement. It is a contemporary and humanist approach, believing there is no “one way” to be Jewish, that Judaism is an evolving community and culture, and that Jews, themselves, in whatever way they practice, create a holy space. Some people connect through the study of the Torah and other texts. Some people connect through food, flavors, and holiday celebrations. Some work to achieve social justice as their primary Jewish practice. Some connect through Hebrew, some through Yiddish, some through music and meditation, and some through silence.

Our congregational model is to impart to our children the diversity of practice, and the exposure to a wide variety of Jewish expressions, guiding them to find their place and voice in the fabric of the Jewish people.

Photo credit Susan Ryan Kalina Photography

To become Bar/Bat/B’nai/Brit mitzvah means to literally become a “child of the commandments,” and marks a coming of age. More than being considered a “Jewish Adult” (a confusing phrase in our society today), becoming Bar, Bat, B’nai or B’rit Mitzvah is the culmination of years of Hebrew and religious training, and the making of a commitment to Jewish practice, the Jewish people, and to being part of Jewish traditions.

The Bat/Bar/B’nai/Brit mitzvah is called to the Torah for the first time to help lead a Shabbat service. Tradition says they have reached the age at which they can engage in the awareness that their Jewish identity is connected to a family, community, congregation, and a larger Jewish world, and that they seek their own place in it.

Kehillah, our Reconstructionist learning community provides engaging and meaningful educational opportunities and experiences for students of all ages and encourages curiosity, growth, and exploration to make Judaism relevant and alive. Our devotion to life-long learning is bolstered by our Kehillah students who grace us with their wisdom, creativity, and contributions to our greater community, and open our hearts and minds with their always interesting, personal and powerful Brit Mitzvah D’vrei Torah.


Why B'nai/B'rit Mitzvot?

Hebrew is a gendered language that doesn't always speak for the varied gender identities in our community. We use this language as many use pronouns: Bar Mitzvah for he/him, Bat Mitzvah for she/her, B'nai Mitzvah for they/them, and B'rit Mitzvah (entering the covenant of the mitzvot) for those for whom gender isn't an essential part of this ritual.

jrc-jewish-reconstructionist-congregation-pandemic-torah-transfer-1B’Nai/B’rit Mitzvah in the time of COVID-19

As with all things JRC during the Pandemic, we have pivoted our B’Nai/B’rit Mitzvah to Zoom to keep everyone safe. Our families and B’Nai/B’rit Mitzvah students have adapted seamlessly, and each family — with the love and support of Rabbi Weiss and Cantor Howard – has made their Simcha unique.

The clergy along with staff and congregants join together each week to welcome and celebrate our newest adult members. Many generous congregants have volunteered and trained to be “Zoom gabbai.” They host the zoom, troubleshoot tech issues, share photomontages, and make it possible to highlight all active participants in the service.

JRC even has a B’Nai/B’rit Mitzvah Concierge to help each family navigate the process and to answer questions. She can even help you design your Zoom room! A special Torah was created and sewn together explicitly for this unusual year, featuring the names and parashot (Torah portions) of each student. Each family passes it on to the next, creating connection and community when we need it most. Our Zoom mitzvahs have been surprisingly meaningful, and we look forward to dancing around our B’nai/B’rit Mitzvah soon.