I am beyond excited to announce first to our community, and then to the general Jewish community at large, that Temple Ner Simcha will now be offering all Bar and Bat Mitzvah preparation at no financial cost, including there will be no financial cost for any tutoring. No longer will finances be an obstacle to any Jewish Family that would like to have their child go through this powerful ritual!
According to most recent studies, 50% of Jews are intermarrying. If you look at the root of this, we find that participation in Hillels around the country are significantly down, with young people becoming uninvolved in Judaism by the time they’re in college. If we keep backing up, we see that this is because of how many young people are not having a bar or bat mitzvah.
Often a family realizes when their child is 11 or 12 years old that they would like to have their child go through this powerful ritual. They look at the alternatives, and see that it costs $2,000 or more to join a temple, two to three thousand dollars as an additional Bar Mitzvah fee, and $3000-7000 for the tutoring. Upon realizing that the cost will be seven to ten thousand dollars before even planning a party, many families give the child the choice, “Do you want a bar mitzvah or would you rather go to Hawaii or Europe?” When the young person decides on a vacation instead of the ritual, the odds are that we will have lost them as active members in the Jewish community for the rest of their lives. We have all seen personally or know families that have gone through this painful scenario.
Thanks to the generosity of some very gracious donors, we are able to take away this dilemma. A family can now go through this entire process at no financial cost (let’s be clear, the synagogue is not paying for the party too lol).
The requirements will be simple. The family will need to be supportive of studying and preparing for the bar mitzvah. The family will need to come to at least two Shabbat Services a month so that the young person becomes very familiar with the prayer service. And all participants will attend a yearly Holocaust Education weekend at a local camp where they will not only learn about the Holocaust, but will meet survivors who can tell their own stories. None of this, including the weekend, will have any financial cost (although we are hopeful that families will ultimately want to support the community).
In the same way that our community is dedicated to not forcing people to “pay to pray”, this removes the obstacle of finances for any family who would like their child to be educated in Judaica. It is something that I hope will bring many families and children back to our tradition, ultimately resulting in more participation in Hillel programs and in Jewish life after graduating college
We have limited space for this program, and it is being offered to everyone who is already involved in our community first. You will be seeing announcements and articles both locally and nationally on what we are doing in the coming weeks. If you would like to be part of this program, or have friends who would like to take advantage of this opportunity, please email Mitzvah@NerSimcha.org as soon as possible to make sure that you have a space.
I cannot thank all of you enough for the miracles you are creating locally and in the Jewish world. Close to 60 synagogues have now copied our no dues/ no high holiday ticket cost model. It is my hope and prayer that with the success of this bar mitzvah program, this too will be emulated around the country, bringing Jews back to Judaism
I look forward to seeing each of you soon at one of our many events or services, and again, thank you for your continued support of Temple Ner Simcha.
Rabbi Michael Barclay