Services and Prayer at Shir Tikvah

A child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah is an extremely important moment in his or her life, as well as in the life of the synagogue, and this fact is no different at Shir Tikvah. Shir Tikvah and it’s strong community places a great deal of emphasis on this event, and as a result has high expectations. These expectations have to do with not only the skills that should be acquired through the process of studying for the occasion, but also focus on what the responsibilities of becoming a Bnai Mitzvah are. Despite these expectations, the Bnai Mitzvah experience is an enjoyable one. The Saturday morning service on the day of one’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah is filled with lots of energy and a great deal of happiness. Shir Tikvah’s community is once again demonstrated as the previous Bnai Mitzvah does Kiddush, the blessings over the wine, with the current Bnai Mitvah, then giving him or her a short speech and “passing down the Kiddush cup.” The importance of family is also a clear theme of the day, as the Torah is passed down through the generations, ending in the hands of the child who will be reading from it as a part of the service. The theme of education, however, is perhaps the most salient one throughout the day. Aside from all of the education that was completed to prepare for the joyous day and all that the Bnai Mitzvah teaches the community through Torah readings and speeches, there is also education from the Rabbi to the Bnai Mitzvah. Each member of the Bnai Mitvah class is allowed to submit one question to the Rabbi which gets addressed during that child’s service. These answers are very personalized and genuine, allowing the Bnai Mitzvah not only to teach others on this special day, but to learn something important as well.

Song leader and educator Wendy Goldberg describes the four essential questions she asks of a Jewish service/education.

Show Transcription

I am constantly constantly asking the question of the parents and the kids: how are you going to be transformed by this [service] and what is it going to be your thing that you feel like this was worth it? I have a criterion of four essential questions. How will this be meaningful? How will this be personal, individualized to your individual learning style [and] capabilities? How will it connect you to communities so that it's not only about you as an individual but actually has some communal ties that don't have to be Jewish ties but have to have you rooted in communities or your community (however you define that)? And the fourth is, how does it have to have a deep Jewish basis so that it not just you playing a violin concerto with your community that are clapping for you but then how does it have to do with the Jewish piece of that?"