B'nei Mitzvah in Israel

Celebrating a Family Simcha
A Bar or Bat Mitzvah in Israel can be a very special experience, providing a young person with a special relationship to what it means to be Jewish. A Masorti Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony allows the whole family is to participate.
As in Canada, every year, hundreds of Israeli youngsters study at Masorti kehillot in preparation for this special day. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah students are encouraged to take an active part in the synagogue life, as well as attend classes in which they learn about Judaism and how to read from the Torah.
Your family can share this experience. Masorti kehillot welcome visitors who would like to celebrate their child's Bar/Bat Mitzvah in Israel, instead of, or in addition to, a celebration back at home.
Another wonderful option is the Masorti Kotel in the Robinson's Arch area at the southern end of the Western wall. The Masorti Religious Affairs Bureau is responsible for the Masorti Kotel, where men and women can pray together, according to the Masorti tradition. We can help you with arrangements and finding a rabbi.
For more information about celebrating your family simcha in Israel, contact the Masorti-MERCAZ office, (416) 667-1717 or (866) 357-3384.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program for Children with Disabilities
The Masorti Movement Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program for Children with Disabilities is Israel's only national program, providing bar/bat mitzvah preparation and Jewish enrichment for children with disabilities.
In Israel, traditional lifecycle events are often overlooked or considered impossible for many special needs children due to their individual challenges. The Masorti movement believes that every child, regardless of ability, deserves this chance to shine - and take his or her rightful place as a Jewish adult, embraced by community. We understand that kol Yisrael arazim zeh bazeh; all Israel is responsible to each other. For these special children, many of whom otherwise would not celebrate this significant moment, the opportunity to hear "MAZEL TOV!" is a unique moment of inclusion in the Jewish community. The Masorti Movement in Israel believes in creating and nurturing spiritual communities that combine prayer and ritual with community service. The Masorti Movement in Israel does this by providing funding and properly certified teachers for these children, who otherwise could not celebrate this significant moment. We do this because we know all children have a rightful place in our communities.
What began in one school for children with disabilities, today includes about 300 students a year, who attend 40 special education schools throughout Israel. Participants include children with a variety of physical and developmental challenges, such as cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, ADD-ADHD, autism, blindness, hearing impairments and learning disabilities. Children are called up to the Torah for an aliyah, many utilizing special communications devices to recite the appropriate blessings, rarely is the congregation not moved to tears. Communal singing and dancing are always part of the celebration.
The Masorti program welcomes children of every religious and ethnic background, many of them new immigrants.
Leading up to the big day, youngsters learn about blessings, Shabbat, festivals and customs, performing mitzvot and other activities that reflect Jewish values. If possible, for example, they visit the elderly, care for animals and help others in need as part of their commitment to Jewish life. Teacher training is also an important component of the program, with professional development provided in the latest alternative and interactive modes of learning. Many faculty come from the professional ranks of the Masorti movement, including rabbis and youth movement counselors. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah staff developed special-education devices. Our siddur has symbols above each word to help make the service meaningful to everyone. We use cards with brachot and pictures to allow each child to forge his/her own path. Every student embraces a mitzvah that is special and meaningful to him/her.

Pluralism and inclusion are the key. Our students are children with mental and physical challenges in Israel attending special schools according to their disabilities.They come from across the entire spectrum of Jews: Orthodox, Masorti, Reform and secular, Sefardi and Ashkenazi, new immigrants and native Israelis. All have a rightful place in the community. At the end of the program, during a weekday service, they all sit together in one of our Masorti synagogues, Haredi, Orthodox, Masorti, Reform and secular. Our program reaches parts of Israeli society who otherwise would never set foot in a Masorti synagogue.

What Can You Do?
There are many ways for Canadian families celebrating bat/bat mitzvah to become involved and support these Israeli children, individually or through a bar/bat mitzvah class, day school, youth group chapter, summer camp or sports team.

Organize- B'nei mitzvah students, individuals, families, and other groups can organize to provide a group gift and provide awareness of this unique and important program.
Connect- Become a twin. While most of our students are not equipped to become pen pals, they do enjoy getting letters. Families can also connect. Join us to celebrate.
Contribute-

  • Designate a portion of your own bar/bat mitzvah gifts to the program, or ask your own guests to make contributions in your honor.
  • Talk about your twin and why you chose to participate in the Bar/Bat Mitzvah for the Special Child program. Speak to your Rabbi, Cantor, Teacher, or other leaders at your synagogue or school to encourage them to support our program.
  • Share this information with friends, family and leaders in your community to educate them about the Masorti Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program for Children with Disabilities.
  • Raise money through Mitzvah Fairs and/or individual endeavours, such as babysitting or mowing lawns
  • Organize a group activity that requires sponsors, such as soccer ball "kick-a-thon," lap swim, hoops contest, distance run or "read-a-thon"
  • Twin with one child for $1,000
Your gift can be one-time or ongoing to support the Masorti Movement our program into the future.
Contact us for more information at info@masorti-mercaz.ca.