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B’nai Mitzvah

The B’nai Mitzvah program is a two-year program which coincides with sixth and seventh grade. For most families, the culmination of the program is their child’s participation in a group B’nai Mitzvah ceremony attended by family and friends. To ensure the integrity and success of the B’nai Mitzvah ceremony, participation in the complete two-year program is recommended. Membership in Oraynu Congregation for both B’nai Mitzvah years is required. Children who have completed Grade 6 Jewish education elsewhere or through home study may also be accepted directly into Grade 7, at the discretion of Oraynu staff. Grade 7 MUST BE COMPLETED at Oraynu Children’s School.

The program consists of the following:

  • Year-and-a-half of academic study
  • Culminating Humanistic Jewish Role Model Research Project
  • Participation in tzedakah projects (community service projects)
  • Rehearsal for the group B’nai Mitzvah ceremony
  • Participation in a two-hour group ceremony

An individual Bar or Bat Mitzvah ceremony is available for students who do not wish to take part in a group ceremony through Oraynu Congregation.

Goals of an Oraynu B’nai Mitzvah

Students, their families, friends and the Oraynu community celebrate the attainment of Bar and Bat Mitzvah in a meaningful way. At Oraynu, each student who becomes a Bar or Bat Mitzvah affirms:

  • A transition to adolescence.
  • Secular Humanistic Jewish ideals.
  • Induction as a member of the Jewish community.

In preparing for this event, parents become involved in their children’s Jewish education, and the students grow in confidence, understanding and responsibility. Through this dynamic process and experience, their Jewishness becomes meaningful and relevant.

Humanistic Jewish Role Model Research Projects

The research project is at the heart of the B’nai Mitzvah program. Each student researches a Jewish role model who exemplifies humanistic Jewish values. Their research is incorporated into the actual ceremony.

B’nai Mitzvah Ceremony — Two Options

The following B’nai Mitzvah options are available at Oraynu:

  • Group: The B’nai Mitzvah program at the school is primarily a group endeavour. Students, teachers, parents, the B’nai Mitzvah Coordinator, Roby Sadler, and Principal, Steve Shabes, work in tandem.
  • Individual: Students who do not wish to take part in the group B’nai Mitzvah program may attend classes at the school while preparing for an individual Bar or Bat Mitzvah outside of Oraynu Children’s School under the guidance of one of our Rabbis, Rabbi Denise Handlarski, Rabbi Emerita Karen Levy, or our Life Cycle Director, Rabbi Eva Goldfinger.

Group B’nai Mitzvah Ceremony

The ceremony is the equivalent of a two-hour stage performance, comprised of prose, poetry and songs about the history and culture of the Jewish people. It reflects the values and beliefs of the Secular Humanistic Jewish movement. With the exception of the opening and closing, the students perform the entire ceremony. The students take their audience on a journey throughout Jewish history. The ceremony is held on the morning of the first Saturday in June. Since June 2009, the ceremony has taken place at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts.

A DVD of previous group ceremonies is available for viewing at the school for prospective families.