The American bar mitzvah, facing derision for Las Vegas design excess, is about to receive a full makeover, but for an entirely different rationale. Families have been treating this rite of passage not as an entry to Jewish life, but as a commencement service: it’s over and turn 13, read in the Torah, have a bash. Many leave synagogue until they have kids of their very own, and several never return at all — a cycle that Jewish leaders say has been sabotaging Judaism that is organized . Leaders in the greatest division of Judaism, the Reform movement, are starting an initiative to prevent the attrition by reinventing the whole bar and bat mitzvah procedure as Jews observe the brand new year Wednesday night. Click Here for More : Thirteen Reform congregations throughout the nation have volunteered to pilot the change, and an additional 67 are on the runway. Everything is about the table: whether or how to teach Hebrew, whether to delay the ceremony until children are older, and whether to require kids to read from the Torah — now the culmination of years of study and the centerpiece of all bar mitzvah services. Parents will most likely be anticipated to play a bigger role and emphasis will shift to social action from prayer. “ I like Torah, I read Torah, I study Torah,” is a professor of Jewish education at Hebrew Union College in La and said Isa Aron, who is helping direct the Reform movement’s initiative. “But what’s the point of having your kid read a text they don’t understand in a language they don’t understand and getting family members and your 200 or 300 closest friends together? “Maybe it shouldn’t be such a performance,” Dr. Aron said. “ about becoming part of the community It should be.” Reform leaders say American Jewry sowed the seeds of its stagnation in ’40 and the 1930s s when synagogues, to enlarge their membership, began to require four or three years of religious school presence to the bar mitzvah as a prerequisite. Synagogues billed tuition, which became an important income stream for congregations and assembled classroom wings. We ’re living in the religious school industrial complex,” said Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, a senior vice president of the Union. “We didn’t recognize it,” said Rabbi Bradley Solmsen, the director of youth participation for the union along with a director of the new initiative, “but we sent the message to families when you wish to be a bar or bat mitzvah, you've got to join up with the synagogue. And When you’re done, what they heard was, ‘, you are able to leave the synagogue.’ We’d like to go back to our roots and say, how do we make a point of welcome and not the leave point that it’s become to it?” The phenomenon isn't exclusive to Judaism. Churches also struggle to keep youthful members engaged, and studies show that younger Americans are far more unlikely to be affiliated than their parents and grandparents. What is distinct for synagogues is that often when the youth depart, so do the parents. The issue Jewish leaders are trying to handle is deeper in relation to the recurrent lament about bar mitzvah celebrations that are ostentatious, animated last month from Dallas of a bar mitzvah boy using a YouTube video hoofing it with Vegas-style showgirls. Their concern is they have built the bar mitzvah worship service as the pinnacle up, putting kids through lots of time and effort to preparing them to get a daylong event, geared. Rabbis said the event is becoming more a private service for the bar mitzvah family and friends than a communal occasion for the congregation. Children and their loved ones go through what some rabbis call an “assembly line” that produces Jews schooled in little more than “pediatric Judaism,” an immature understanding of the religion, its principles and spirituality. Most students present a short speech in regards to the meaning of the Torah passage they were delegated to read, but they never really learn to understand or speak Hebrew, and then decode the text. “I learned the melody and I had the phonetics in front of me, all in a binder that was laminated,” said Jeff Berman, remembering his bar mitzvah years ago on Staten Island, “but really I couldn't tell you what it meant. I just understood it was important to grandparents and my parents for me to do.” Mr. Berman, 50, who works at a law firm in Los Angeles, exemplifies the cycle of exodus. They haven't joined a synagogue and are not planning bar mitzvahs, although Jewish holidays are sometimes celebrated by them. Mr. Berman says he's an atheist. A study by Jack Wertheimer, a professor of American Jewish history in the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, showed that more than a third of religious school students dropped out after 85 percent, and the seventh grade by the 12th grade. The new initiative by the Reform movement, a liberal branch that claims 1.5 million of the state’s estimated 6 million Jews, is called B’nai Mitzvah Revolution (bar mitzvah refers to lads, bat mitzvah to girls, and b’nai mitzvah is the plural if a son is contained). With independent and Conservative, Reconstructionist synagogues joining the effort has expanded beyond the Reform movement, as well as the Jewish Federation there providing cash. (Orthodox Jews, who've day schools and do not have equivalent retention issues, are not element of the initiative.) Share the results and each congregation is anticipated to design its own program. Yet many seem to be going in an identical direction: when the bar mitzvah is over, so which they do not leave the synagogue involve the parents. They need the kids to spend more time working as a group on “social action” endeavors that are kept up, and less time learning Hebrew and memorizing prayers. (Many congregations already expect “mitzvah jobs,” but those generally involve individual volunteerism, and aren't extensive). Congregation Har HaShem in Boulder, Colo., will ask kids to identify a societal problem they need to work on and come up with a more-duration “tikkun olam” job, Hebrew for “repair the world.” Katherine Schwartz, director of lifelong learning at Har HaShem, said that among Jewish learning prayer and social action , “we need to possess kids see them as having equally important weight, which is really not what we do now Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles has been trying. Jordan Sachs-Amrami and his seventh-grade class voted to spend their b’nai mitzvah year working on the issue of hunger. During his bar mitzvah service in the year 2012, the lights dimmed in the sanctuary and showed a video he made about what his group learned. Some parents, rabbis and cantors are immune to change, said Dr. Aron, the professor at Hebrew Union College. At some synagogues, she said, “the cantorial staff thinks nothing is broken ” because the b’nai mitzvah services themselves could be very beautiful and moving. “B’nai mitzvah is the third rail. “We do this touch softly, because the ritual is so deeply embedded in American religious culture.”

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