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Bar & Bat Mitzvah Preparations: Ideas & Alternatives
An Orthodox Perspective by Rivka C. Berman

Parents Make It Special
• Bar and bat mitzvah celebrants who are consulted before the planning begins tend to be more cooperative throughout the preparation stages. Parents dream of certain bar mitzvah celebrations and ceremonies. Kids do, too.

• Parents can reinforce the impact of the bat mitzvah by beginning to treat their child as the adult she will soon be. Teens want to be taken seriously. A little individual attention goes a long way. Parents can schedule a weekend away with the bar mitzvah boy. Discussing the meaning of the bat mitzvah can be one goal of the weekend, but so is doing grown up things together like dining out, attending the theater, browsing through museum collections. This is the dawn of ardent adolescence, and it’s a good time to touch on the tough, but important topics like love and morality. Then listen. Really listen.

• If the bar mitzvah boy is a reader, choose a book with a Jewish theme to read together. Go out for coffee and discuss your reading.

• Take a trip to a Judaica store, and treat the bat mitzvah girl to something newish and Jewish, just because.

• Throughout the party planning craziness, long walks can be a way to refocus on the meaning of the bat mitzvah instead of the hype. Talk about the meaning of the milestone: how does the bat mitzvah girl see herself as a Jew? Share memories of your bar mitzvah.

• Create a guide to the service as a joint effort. Include favorite, meaningful passages from Jewish books. Write a brief biography of the new adult and feature his commentary on the Torah portion.

Bat Mitzvah Clubs
Some cities have Bat Mitzvah Clubs which expand the ceremony from a one-day event to a year-long thoughtful, challenging process where information about becoming a Jewish woman is explored through discussions and events. It’s not a school. Information is passed along in a social setting. In time each girl develops a personal answer to the question: “What does a bat mitzvah really mean?”

Private Tutors
To learn the trop, it is sometimes necessary to study one to one with a tutor. Pick a good one. A good tutor can add depth and enthusiasm to the whole preparation process. One essential difference between a good and a bad tutor is patience. Learning the trop can be frustrating. Select a tutor who can offer corrections without criticism.

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Why are the Bat and Bar Mitzvah Celebrated at Ages Twelve and Thirteen
• Post Bar Mitzvah Privileges (When Boy Reaches 13 Years of Age)
• Evolution of the Bar Mitzvah over the years
Evolution of the Bat Mitzvah over the years
• Is a formal celebration of a Bar MItzvah or Bat MItzvah required by Jewish law?
Settings for the Celebration of a Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah
Setting a Date for the Celebration of a Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah

• Bar Mitzvah Services and Ceremonial Rituals at the Synagogue
• Getting Ready for the Bar Mitzvah - The Tallit: Prayer Shawl
• Getting Ready for the Bar Mitzvah - The Tefillin, Phylacteries
• Getting Ready for the Bar Mitzvah - The "Hat"
Getting Ready for the Bar Mitzvah - Reading Hebrew & Torah Reading
Preparation for the Bar Mitzvah Celebrations: Ideas and Alternatives
• Beyond Party Plans: Meaningful Projects for the Bar and Bat Mitzvah
• The Bar and Bat Mitzvah Service: Instructional Booklets and Schedules
• The Bar Mitzvah Blessing Recited by the Boy's Father: Baruch Sh'Ptarani
• Memorial Prayers during the Bar and Bat Mitzvah Celebrations
• Videography and Photography during Bar Mitzvah Services at the Synagogue
• Bar Mitzvah boy and Bat Mitzvah Girl of Divorced Parents.  What to do?
• "Honors" during Torah Reading at Synagogue Bar Mitzvah Services
• Synagogue Etiquette: What to Wear, How to Conduct Oneself

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