The Reform Movements Bnai Mitzvah Revolution is the widest reaching initiative ever, launched by the Movement to radically transform the entire Bnai Mitzvah experience.
The Bnai Mitzvah Revolution is a joint project of the Hebrew Union College's Experiment in Congregational Education (ECE) and the Union for Reform Judaism's Campaign for Youth Engagement (CYE).
The first set of pilot congregations participated in a weekend-long
workshop last week with 65 professionals and lay leaders from 14
congregations including faculty and staff from the ECE and CYE. The
project is being co-directed by Dr. Isa Aron, HUC professor of Jewish
education and Rabbi Bradley Solmsen, URJ's director of Youth Engagement.
goal of the workshop was to support the congregational teams in
radically rethinking their approaches to the preparation for, and
celebration of, bar and bat mitzvah. Session topics
focused on adolescent development, visioning, developing experiments,
new approaches to congregational education, alternative approaches to
teaching Hebrew, and involving the broader community. In addition, an
entire day was devoted to training one representative from each
congregation in Action Research. Action Research is an approach to
gathering and analyzing data done by practitioners (in this case
educators and lay leaders) in order to bring about change. This project
is one of the first that is committed to systematically collecting data
from all of the participating synagogues to help the pilot congregations
learn and to share those learnings within the Movement and throughout
the broader Jewish community.
Dr. Michael Zeldin, senior
national director of the Schools of Education at HUC, who attended the
workshop, commented, Rabbis, cantors, educators and lay leaders engaged
in intense conversation about how to rethink patterns that were more
than 50 years in the making. If these congregations implement even half
of what they are contemplating, we will be well on our way to seriously
impacting how we engage our young people.
workshop each congregation will be working with a facilitator to gather
and analyze data from the process of planning their experiments, to be
part of a support network and will commit to developing a long range
plan as well as a set of experiments they will implement by the fall of
Rabbi Robert Nosanchuk, senior Rabbi at Anshe Chesed
Fairmount Temple in Cleveland, OH, one of the pilot congregations,
commented that, "This helps us consider how to step back from our
well-rehearsed roles as rabbis and cantors, parents and students,
tutors and educators -- to prepare and guide our students toward b'nai mitzvah. The opening conference challenged us to experiment and to search for the most compelling path forward."
Perlick, a lay leader from Congregation Har HaShem in Boulder, CO,
added, "Coming together with other congregations, spending time
brainstorming collectively while also working in our independent groups
to come up with our congregational b'nai mitzvah vision was an amazingly beneficial experience.
Atwell, another lay leader from Har HaShem added, Joining so many
other lay leaders and educators gave us the platform we need to launch
this change in our own community.
Participating congregations include:
Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple, Beachwood, OH Congregation Har Hashem, Boulder, CO North Shore Congregation Israel, Glencoe, IL Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel, Elkins Park, PA Stephen S. Wise Temple, Los Angeles, CA Temple Beth-El, Hillsborough, NJ Temple Beth El of South Orange County, Aliso Viejo, CA Temple Beth Elohim, Wellesley Hills, MA Temple Brith Achim, Kind of Prussia, PA Temple Isaiah, Lafayette, CA Temple Isaiah, Los Angeles, CA Temple Israel, Columbus, OH Temple Shalom, Dallas, TX Temple Sholom, Scotch Plains, NJ