Introduction: Our Programme
We have reorganized the Beit Emanuel School into four year groups, two junior years and a two year senior programme. The senior classes are jointly managed and delivered by Harriet Davis, an experienced senior teacher, and our Rabbi, Dr Robert Ash.
The staff teaching the senior programme have devised a series of lessons and activities for the practical implementation of the objectives and outcomes detailed below. A new student workbook has been drawn up to reflect the introduction of the new Progressive prayer book Mishkan Tefilah.
Students and Services
If we want to have a community, we need to actively create it. BM students and families who attend services on a regular basis feel more a part of the community, and are better able to appreciate the meaning of the Shabbat prayers and service. This is why it is required that the Bar/Bat Mitzvah student and his/her family attend and participate in services.
All BM students sign in at all services they attend. This ensures they are properly credited for their attendances.
Some Bar/Bat Mitzvah families regard the Bar/Bat Mitzvah as their family’s special service. Shabbat services are for the entire community. During the regular service the young person who is Bar/Bat Mitzvah is called to the Torah in front of the entire community and thereby recognized formally as an adult member of our community.
We recognize and allow for the fact that some children have learning difficulties and special needs. Some children attend special schools and reading, even in English, is a challenge for them. These factors will be taken into account when setting individual standards for BM.
The Preparation Programme
Our programme includes the following subject areas:
The Purpose and Meaning of Becoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah
What does it mean to be Bar/Bat Mitzvah?
What is the origin and history of this ritual?
What does it mean to be a Jew?
Ideas of God, Torah and Israel.
We will study these issues in class and help students find answers relevant to their lives.
The Responsibilities of Jewish Adulthood
A study of the moral and religious responsibilities of Jews in today’s world.
Students will be encouraged to think about mitzvot, to consider for themselves what living Jewishly means.
An overview of Torah using key stories as a way to guide students toward religious understanding and moral sensitivity.
Using JPS Tanakh English translation of the Bible, students will study specific texts.
They will be encouraged to express their own understandings interpretations.
Different Forms of Jewish Identity
What are secular Jews and religious Jews?
What different streams of religious Jews are there?
What do these groups share in common and what differentiates them?
Students should be able to recognize and explain their own views of Jewish identity and appreciate diverse approaches as valid.
Hebrew and Liturgy
[Students are expected to have basic Hebrew reading abilities upon entering the senior programme. This means that they can easily recognize all letters and vowels and are able to pronounce words. If this is not the case, additional tuition will be required].
Students will study prayers relevant to equipping them with the skills to take an active part in the Shabbat Evening and Morning Service. This will include understanding the structure of a typical service; how services are made up of a sequence of ‘sections’, and the significance and meaning of the sections. They will be encouraged to lead parts of the services in the months before their ceremony in preparation for their BM service.
Students must become as fluent as their abilities allow in reading key prayers and blessings connected to both home and synagogue observances, e.g. Shabbat and festival evening and morning kiddushim.
Key prayers and blessings
- Shabbat songs (zemirot) L’chah Dodi, Shalom Aleichem, Yom Zeh L’Yisrael etc.
- Main Shabbat prayers, Shema and its blessings, Amidah, Alenu and Kaddish.
- Blessings for the Torah and the Haftarah
- Birkat haMazon (Grace After Meals)
Students will learn to read the Hebrew text of their parashah and understand the content of this Torah portion. Practical Torah reading skills are important. Students will be offered the facility to practice reading from the Torah scroll which they will use for their ceremony.
Speech Writing and Oral Presentation
Students need help to learn how to write and present their own thoughts and ideas about the material they have studied.
At their ceremony, they will present a commentary on their portion.
B’nai Mitzvah Project
This project invites children who are preparing for Bar/Bat Mitzvah to create an artistic item to be displayed which connects them and their families to the experience of BM.