How does the course of study work?
Tutorials can be either in my office, by phone or by Skype. For families who live in rural areas that do not have a fully established Jewish community, or a Bar & Bat Mitzvah program or tutor, I have developed a distance-learning program. Some families in this position will create a combination of in-person lessons augmented by the distance learning modes. As family life has become much busier, even families who live in my area sometimes choose this model, as it means less driving.
What is the time commitment for the student?
Most students spend about a year preparing for their ceremony, meeting with me weekly for a one-hour tutorial. Some families start earlier than one year, and begin with tutorials twice a month, switching to lessons once a week as the ceremony draws nearer. For some students, this more relaxed pace helps integrate an added “extra curricular” more easily.
In the beginning, students will need to study about 15 minutes each day outside of our weekly lesson. As the student progresses, study time increases to about 30 minutes. In the last few months leading up to their ceremony, the student will need to work about 45 minutes each day. This increased time includes the writing of their personal D’var Torah (“a word of Torah”). Sometimes known as the Bar or Bat Mitzvah “speech”, the D’var Torah is an opportunity for your child to share their unique insights, and from that vantage point, teach the congregation the deeper meanings of their Torah portion. Occasionally, we will need to add a few extra lessons during this more intensive study period.
What is the time commitment for the adults?
Along with the hours spent planning the ceremony and celebrations, your time commitment will vary according to your level of participation in the ceremony itself. For example, some parents opt to learn alongside of their student in order to model an active interest and help tutor their child. Sometimes parents or other family members will learn prayers or a Torah reading and be part of the service. Other parents may choose a more behind-the-scenes role. For all, however, there is the commitment to come to our first two meetings, to read a few books about Bar and Bat Mitzvah (reading list provided), and to attend two or three planning meetings and the rehearsal.
What if we don’t know Hebrew?
Previous knowledge of Hebrew is not a prerequisite! I have had many students with no background in Hebrew accomplish their Bar or Bat Mitzvah in a year’s time. I can also provide family members with transliterations of the typical blessings, and even a little coaching!