Forgot your favorite aunt during the candle lighting ceremony? Wish your outfit had a little more of your personality? Think an interpretive dance would have made for a better speech? Check out new takes on quintessential elements of the B-Mitzvah experience.

 

The Farbmitzvah

By Chris Farber 

September 1, 2015

Chris Farber is co-founder of the reBar project with Rebooter Brian Elliot. Chris is a filmmaker and photographer. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife. His greatest accomplishment was winning The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest (Contest #95).  

Chris Farber is co-founder of the reBar project with Rebooter Brian Elliot. Chris is a filmmaker and photographer. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife. His greatest accomplishment was winning The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest (Contest #95).
 

My story doesn’t start with a Bar Mitzvah. I didn’t have one. Instead, it starts with my second circumcision. 

I’m in a mikva... it’s a clammy, damp basement. It’s like a steam room without the heat. The process is simple. You pray, and then submerge in the ritual bath in the middle of the room, and then pray some more. One caveat is that your physical connection to the water must be uninterrupted by clothing, jewelry or contact lenses. So here I am, naked and blind, while the fuzzy figures of the beit din, three fully clothed and bearded rabbis with perfectly corrected 20/20 vision watch me and we chit chat about sports, the weather and the Jewish concept of Shalom ha-beit, peace in the home.  And then one of them reaches for my penis. Read More.

 

Un-Bat Mitzvah

By Rabbi Lori Shapiro

Rabbi Lori Shapiro is the founder of The Open Temple centered in Venice, CA, Lori seeks to take her experience from her broad background in the arts and academia, and serve unaffiliated and disaffiliated seekers. Prior to founding Open Temple, Lori was the Director of Jewish Life at USC Hillel. Lori spent time living and studying in communities of Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Renewal and Non-Denominational Judaism. A current fellow with CLAL/Rabbis Without Borders Clergy Leadership Incubator, Lori is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, the Academy for Jewish Religion, CA and Barnard College. Lori and her husband, Dr. Joel Shapiro, live in the Venice (CA) canals with their daughter Harel

Rabbi Lori Shapiro is the founder of The Open Temple centered in Venice, CA, Lori seeks to take her experience from her broad background in the arts and academia, and serve unaffiliated and disaffiliated seekers. Prior to founding Open Temple, Lori was the Director of Jewish Life at USC Hillel. Lori spent time living and studying in communities of Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Renewal and Non-Denominational Judaism. A current fellow with CLAL/Rabbis Without Borders Clergy Leadership Incubator, Lori is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, the Academy for Jewish Religion, CA and Barnard College. Lori and her husband, Dr. Joel Shapiro, live in the Venice (CA) canals with their daughter Harel

Growing up in the Five Towns of Long Island, Shabbat passed by the house I grew up in every Friday night, waiting for me to join her, as a parade of men in dark suits and children in colorful dresses accompanied her to Young Israel of Woodmere.  In 1985, the year that would have been my Bat Mitzvah, I was still eight years shy from the time I would join any Shabbat procession. Read More.

 

 

From Bat to Maharat

By Leah Sarna

May 4, 2015

Leah Sarna is a first year student at Yeshivat Maharat, the first institution to offer ordination to Orthodox women. She is also a Wexner Graduate Fellow. Leah grew up in Boston where she attended the Maimonides School, and she has since studied at the Beit Midrash for Women at Migdal Oz, and Yale University, where she earned a BA in Philosophy.

Leah Sarna is a first year student at Yeshivat Maharat, the first institution to offer ordination to Orthodox women. She is also a Wexner Graduate Fellow. Leah grew up in Boston where she attended the Maimonides School, and she has since studied at the Beit Midrash for Women at Migdal Oz, and Yale University, where she earned a BA in Philosophy.

When I turned twelve, I had no idea that just over a decade later I would be in school again, learning how to replicate that day for others. Back then, Orthodox women had no place in the clergy.  Read More.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Delayed Jewish Tweendom

By Beth Pickens

February 25, 2015

My favorite part of being an adult is recreating my youth –over and over again – and getting the details right this time. For example, I did not grow up Jewish. I was born into a secular family whose religion was the Pittsburgh Steelers and whose spirituality was a sort of Christian Capitalism. No church but we celebrated Christmas and Easter and I had no idea these holidays were about Jesus. My parents never mentioned god.  I asked my 4th grade teacher about the history of Easter and he, being a paranoid public school employee, said, “I can’t talk to you about that. You need to go home and ask your parents.” Read More.

 

 

 

 

Pretty in Pink

By Wendy MacNaughton

October 7, 2014

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I've always passed. When I was young most of my closest friends were Jewish, but they had no idea I was, too. How could they? I didn't go to Sunday school, my hair used to be straight, my last name is MacNaughton, and I never had a Bat Mitzvah. Half my family is Jewish (moms), other half is Episcopalian (dads) so I had one foot in each. I was bi-cultural, I guess - but I always identified more as Jewish but never felt like I really belonged. I wasn't part of the club. Read more.


Would you light my candle?

By Jennifer Bleyer

October 7, 2014

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An updated Candle-Lighting Ceremony

Making zines about girl power

Mosh pits are for women, too

Scrawling slut across our bellies

Riot Grrrl, this light's for you.

Torah and Shabbos, mamash a gevalt

Shlomo Carlebach showed me what I never knew

Like that music is prayer and yiddishkeit sweet

And one can be a misfit and still be a Jew.

Read more.


Ethan’s Bar Mitzvah: C+

By Ethan Kuperberg

In order to prepare for Rebar, I recently watched my Bar Mitzvah video. I haven’t had such a horrifying viewing experience since the Ozymandias episode of Breaking Bad. There may have been fewer Neo-Nazi methamphetamine makers at my Bar Mitzvah than in the fictionalized version of Albuquerque, but I felt the same emotions that I did while watching that episode: nausea and terror as I watched a beloved character die. In this case the beloved character was my memory of myself as a suave, charming thirteen-year-old A.E.Wright Middle School Honor Roll rockstar. Just like DEA Agent Hank Schrader, the character that I remembered myself to be was also fictional. And dead. Read more.