Bar/Bat Mitzvah is a highly anticipated experience and time in an adolescent’s life where they are becoming a Jewish adult. For young adults with disabilities, this experience should also be a meaningful, joyous experience. Planning the “right” bar or bat mitzvah, and the actual teaching, may require some creativity and out of the box thinking.
A passage in the Talmud offers an important example of Rabbi Perida who modeled great persistence and perseverance to assure that a student with learning difficulties mastered the material the rabbi was teaching. According to Eruvin 54b, Rabbi Perida had a student he needed to teach the material 400 times to before the student understood it. Rabbi Perida assured the student that he would not leave him, even to go to another gathering, until he has fully mastered the lesson. This type of approach to learning is imperative to helping a child be successful, especially when it comes to a matter as important as learning their Torah portion for their Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
The resources below address ways to make Bar and Bat Mitzvahs meaningful and joyous for people with disabilities.
- Gateways Inclusive B’nei Mitzvah Resources: Create deeply meaningful b’nei mitzvah paths for students with diverse learning needs, using tools, curricula, and resources from Gateways.
- Practical Ideas for Inclusive Bar and Bat Mitzvahs: From Ruderman Chabad Inclusion Initiative.
- URJ (Reform Movement) Bar and Bat Mitzvah Guide: A short practical guide addressing basics of bar and bat mitzvah including meaning, origin, the service, and celebrations.
- Howard Blas’ B’nai Mitzvah Resources: Howard Blas has been preparing students with disabilities with disabilities for over 35 years. He also works with families, clergy and educators to help envision and create meaningful services.
- Whole Community Inclusion’s B’nai Mitzvah Training: Gabby Kaplan-Mayer’s regularly run two-day trainings for clergy and educators on accommodations and modifications.
- “Making Bar and Bat Mitzvah Preparation More Joyful”: Hidden Sparks helps educators and schools nurture the “Hidden Spark” within each student by developing and facilitating professional development programs and coaching for Jewish day school educators to deepen understanding of learning and approaches for teaching all kinds of learners. This is one of their many useful webinars.