For interested families we offer Bar and Bat Mitzvah in a manner unique to secular humanistic Jews. Working with a mentor, the child will spend several months researching and developing a presentation for their family, friends, classmates, and the Folkshul community. Together with the B’nai Mitzvah Coordinator, the family prepares a ceremony which reflects their love for, and ties to one another as well as their connection to their Jewish past and future. For more information on the B’nai Mitzvah please contact the coordinator via email: B’nai Mitzvah Coordinator or by calling 215-248-1550.
The Jewish Children’s Folkshul embraces members with a wide variety of orientations to Jewish life. Our Community includes members of the Secular Humanistic Jewish movement, those from more traditional Jewish backgrounds, and those who have joined for other reasons. As a result, the process of becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah in our community allows significant room for the students and their families to express their own feelings and orientations towards their Jewishness. Our program continues to be a source of great pride and significance in our community. These non-traditional celebrations are meaningful rites of passage for the B’nai Mitzvah and their family; the mentor who helps guide the student; and to the entire community which benefits and learns from the experience. This is often the Folkshul event that exposes many families outside our Community to our school and our mission.
The process is designed to have the child integrate his/her personal interests with his/her Jewish values and knowledge. The hope is that this will encourage the student to explore and discover elements of the Jewish experience that are personally meaningful. The process is also designed to be relevant to modern Judaism and reflect ethical, intellectual, and Humanist principles, as well as welcome the young adult into the worldwide, historical, and local Jewish community. The goal also is to develop and deepen the sense of community for all members and participants in the Folkshul community.
Our B’nai Mitzvah Coordinator coordinates the entire process including assigning dates, helping develop a topic, finding a mentor and managing the final presentation to the Community. The student works with an adult mentor on research and presentation. Topics of recent B’nai Mitzvah include: Anti-Jewish Propaganda in Nazi Germany; Klezmer Music; African American and Jewish Relations; History of the Bar Mitzvah and Rites of Passage in other Cultures; The Plight of Argentinean Jews; The Use of Wine in Jewish Tradition; and Art Created by Concentration Camp Victims.
A secular Bat/Bar Mitzvah ceremony includes a public acknowledgement by the young woman or man that s/he understands and is willing to accept the moral obligations to be an adult Jew. Those moral obligations can be summarized by the phrase Tikkun Olam, literally ‘repair of the earth.’ Secular Jews believe that our destiny is determined by our behavior and each one of us is personally responsible to improve the human condition.