“All of Your children are students of God; great is the peace of Your children.” (Isaiah 54:13.) “Read this not banayich — ‘Your children’ — but rather bonayich — ‘Your builders’.” (Berachot 64a.)
Becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah is a life-cycle event that is first and foremost about community. It is about stepping forward in the context of Kehillah, to do the holy work of building our community. Students at age 13 are not yet adults, but they are ready to take on responsibilities and make contributions as educated and active members of the Jewish community at Beth Shalom and beyond. Benei Mitzvah celebrations should mark the beginning of our Bar and Bat Mitzvah students becoming active participants as adults in the religious and social life of the congregation. Beth Shalom aspires to engage our youth as leaders, to facilitate their personal growth, and deepen their Jewish learning and skills. Bar or Bat Mitzvah is a time when we celebrate the coming contributions of our youth, whether a teen is counted in a minyan, called to the Torah, leads a Shabbat service, continues Jewish education in high school, is a leader in USY, a Madrikh in our Religious School, or takes on a responsible role in the larger Jewish community.