Continue Your Jewish Journey: Join the Adult B Mitzvah Program October 22

By Margot Cavalier, Vice President, Board of Trustees, Rodef Shalom Congregation

Did you celebrate becoming a bar or bat mitzvah when you turned 13? Or later, as an adult? 

If you didn’t, you now have an opportunity to become a B Mitzvah.* And if you did become a bar or bat mitzvah, is now the time for a second one? Beginning Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m., Rabbi Sharyn Henry will lead a one-year Adult B Mitzvah Program, beginning on Simchat Torah this year and ending on Simchat Torah next year. 

The goal of the program is for the class to lead the Erev Simchat Torah service in 2020 and for each member to read Torah. The cost of the course is $150 for materials, and the only prerequisite is Alef-Bet Boot Camp, which starts this Sunday, Sept. 8, or a basic knowledge of the alef-bet. The class will meet on Tuesday evenings from 7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. Register for these courses by clicking here.

I was a member of the last adult b’nai mitzvah class offered at Rodef Shalom, in 2005-2006, which was also led by Rabbi Henry. It was one of the best, and most meaningful experiences of my life. Rabbi Henry created a memorably rich and rewarding program for us.

A group of five of us started the program in the fall of 2005. None of us could read Hebrew well. We started with varying abilities; some of us knew the aleph-bet and could read a little, others had to learn the alef-bet.  And, as we discovered, each of us had a different aptitude for learning Hebrew. But Rabbi Henry worked with each of us and brought us along, providing the encouragement and instilling the confidence many of us needed. By preparing as a group, we ended up with a great appreciation of each other’s efforts and we took great pride when we stood on the bima together.

All of my classmates were remarkable, each in his or her own way. One of my classmates started with virtually no alef-bet skills. She taught herself the alef-bet by going home and taking out her spice and herb jars, and making labels for them using Hebrew letters instead of English letters. Now, when she takes the yad in her hand and reads from the Torah with great skill during High Holy Days services, I feel so much joy. 

Back in 2005, Rabbi Henry planned a two-year program and scheduled our b’nai mitzvah service for the spring of 2007. At the beginning of our second year, one of my classmates became pregnant and her due date was in the spring of 2007.  By that point we had become such a tight group we decided to move the service up to December 2006 so we’d finish together. And we did! 

Under the guidance of Rabbi Henry, we led the Chanukah Shabbat service on December 16, 2006. Each of us read from the Torah and delivered a d’var Torah. Some of us even chanted our Torah portions! And then we, as a group, sponsored a celebratory oneg featuring latkes. The sense of accomplishment, and wholeness, I felt on that day is something I will never forget.

Please give serious consideration to signing up for this program. It’s a unique opportunity to grow in ways you would have never dreamed of. And If Not Now, When?

*I recently learned that “B Mitzvah” is now being used to refer to a “Bar Mitzvah” or “Bat Mitzvah” in an effort to be gender neutral. “B’nai Mitzvah” is the masculine plural and “B’not Mitzvah” is the feminine plural. In Hebrew, mixed gender plural (men and women) defaults to the masculine plural, “B’nai Mitzvah.” 

Rodef Shalom