Gifts That Prepare the Student
Over the course of a child’s education, they will receive gifts that will be a critical part of learning to be an adult member of the Jewish community.
In 5th grade, students will receive:
- The Tikkun— A Tikkun shows all Torah portions with the trope (musical notations) and vowels for each word, as well as without them (how it appears in the Torah).
- The Siddur –The Siddur Lev Shalem, the prayer book used in the Beth Jacob Sanctuary.
- CDs with various aspects of the service recorded as well as various handouts to use in skills learning.
5-6 Family Lifecycle workshops for students and their parents are held throughout the 6th and 7th grade school years to help place the role of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah in the context of assuming the privileges and responsibilities of Jewish adulthood. We hope to see families attend during the 7th grade year even after the student has become Bar or Bat Mitzvah. Topics covered in the past have been:
- Naming Traditions and Wimpels
- Coming of Age
- The Ethics of Relationships
- Hesed Shel Emet: The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning
- Blessings and Kashrut
In order to foster a greater sense of community between and among our celebrating families, we see these workshops as integral to the experience.
It is a longstanding Jewish custom that the celebration of a simcha is accompanied by the giving of tzedakah. In this way, our personal celebrations can be shared with the wider community. One traditional way of observing this custom is by donating to the Synagogue. Please don’t hesitate to consult the rabbi about other appropriate recipients.
Family Mitzvah Work
Each family, in consultation with the Rabbi, will select mitzvot in several categories to fulfill as a family over the year preceding the B’nai Mitzvah. A plan will be discussed at the initial meeting with the Rabbi, and follow-up will occur during the weekly meetings with the Rabbi starting three months before the date.
See the following links for mitzvah work and tzedakah ideas (click a section below to expand):
Family Mitzvah Work Guidelines
Mazel Tov! During this year, you will be called to the Torah. Your B’nai Mitzvah will symbolize your acceptance of your adult obligations to do mitzvot, not just this year, but for the rest of your life. Your B’nai Mitzvah should help you see yourself in a new light: as the child of God’s Commandments – a “mitzvah-doer.”
It is for this reason that we have formulated a program, which requires you to fulfill mitzvot in six categories. This is a family-based program, because we believe that the home and school must be a combined force for the continuance of Jewish education and Judaism. We expect that parents will become an integral part of the learning process by direct involvement and serve as role models. Parents and children should sit down and plan your mitzvah work together. Some of these mitzvot you will do with your family, others alone, and still others with your friends or other members of the community.
In each of the six categories, there are Biblical sources and suggested mitzvot. Feel free to add to the list of mitzvot using your own understanding of the quotations from the Torah. In some cases, you may want to look up the quote in a Tanach or Chumash to read the quote in context. Please read the material together as a family, and choose at least one mitzvah to do from each section that you are not already doing.
When you complete a section, please write about your experiences performing the mitzvah you chose. Please write about your feelings and reactions, and their effect on you and others. Choose at least one mitzvah from each section. Make sure your written mitzvah experience is signed and dated by a parent or responsible adult.
Your performance of these mitzvot will be reviewed by the Rabbi, and hopefully, will add to the meaningfulness and joy of your simcha.
1. Mitzvot in Your Home – Ethical
1. Honor your father and your mother, that you may long endure on the land that the Lord your God is assigned to you. (Ex. 20:12)
Show special honor or consideration to your parents.
2. Six days you shall labor and do all your work (Ex. 20:9)
Assume a special job or responsibility in your home.
3. You shall neither side with the mighty to do a wrong — you shall not give perverse testimony in a dispute so as to pervert it in favor of the might. (Ex. 23:2)
Work to free your home of a harmful or corrupting practice.
4. When in your war against a city you have to besiege it a long time in order to capture it, you must not destroy its trees, wielding the ax against them, you may eat of them, but you must not cut them down. Are trees of the field human to withdraw before you into the besieged city? (Deut. 20:19)
Plant and care for a vegetable garden to fruit trees.
5. When in your war against a city you have to besiege it a long time in order to capture it, you must not destroy its trees, wielding the ax against them, you may eat of them, but you must not cut them down. Are trees of the field human to withdraw before you into the besieged city? (Deut. 20:19)
Care for or beautify your garden and its flowers.
6. If, along the road, you chance upon a birds nest, in any tree or on the ground, with fledglings or eggs and the mother sitting over the fledglings or on the eggs, do not take the mother together with her young. (Deut. 22:6)
Care for your pet animal.
7. When you build a parapet for your roof, so that you do not bring bloodguilt on your house if anyone should fall from it. (Deut. 22:8)
Exercise care against negligence (introduce the regular use of seat belts, work out a technique for
safety at home, etc.)
8. Impress them upon your children. Recite then when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deut. 6:7)
Introduce themes and ideas of Jewish interest to be discussed by the family at the Sabbath Eve meal.
9. Speak to the Israelite people and say to them: When you enter the land to which I am taking you and you eat of the bread of the land you shall set some aside as a gift to the Lord: as the first yield if your baking, you shall set aside a loaf as a gift; you shall set it aside as a gift from the threshing floor. (Num. 15:18-20)
Learn to bake challah, learn the mitzvah of “taking challah” and practice this skill.
10. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. (Ex. 20:8)
Light the Shabbat candles regularly.
2. Mitzvot in Your Home – Ritual
1. The following you shall abominate among the birds – they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, the vulture, the black vulture; (Lev. 11:13)
Follow the laws of Kashrut.
2. You shall live in Booths seven days; all citizens in Israel shall live in booths. (Lev. 23:42)
Build a sukkah and use it.
3. When you have eaten your fill, give thanks to the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you. (Deut. 8:10)
Recite the “motzi” regularly before meals.
Recite the Birkat Hamazon [Grace after meals] regularly (at least on Shabbat).
4. In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month at evening (Ex. 12:18)
Prepare a Passover seder.
5. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread; on the very first day you shall remove leaven from your houses, for whoever eats leavened bread from the first day to the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. (Ex. 12:15)
Remove and/or sell all chametz [leaven] in your home before Passover.
6. And Moses said to the people. ”Remember this day. on which you went free from Egypt, the house of bondage, how the Lord freed you from it with a mighty hand: no leavened bread shall be eaten, (Ex. 13:3) Throughout the seven days unleavened bread shall be eaten; no leavened bread shall be found with you, and no leaven shall be found in your territory (Ex. 13:7)
Observe the Passover food restrictions during the entire festival.
7. Remember the Sabbath today and keep it holy. (Ex. 20:8)
Learn and recite the Shabbat Kiddush regularly.
Learn and recite the Havdalah at the end of Shabbat.
8. Inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut. 6:9)
Make a mezuzah. acquire a K’laf [parchment], and affix the mezuzah to the doorpost of your home,
following the appropriate b’rakhah [blessing].
3. Mitzvot in Your Community
1. You shall not put off the skimming of the first yield of your vats. You shall give Me the firstborn among your sons. (Ex. 22:28)
Work on a project that helps produce better government or civil improvement.
2. You shall not revile God. Nor put a curse upon a chieftain among your people (Ex. 22:27)
Work of the campaign of a worthy political candidate.
3. When in your war against a city you have to besiege it a long time in order to capture it, you must not destroy its trees wielding the ax against them. You may eat of them but you must not cut them down. Are trees of the field human to withdraw before you into the besieged city? (Deut. 20:19)
Preserve the natural beauty of your neighborhood or area (collect litter, beautify a park etc.)
4. Rather, you must open your hand and lend him sufficient whatever he needs. (Deut. 15:8)
Work for or help support a charitable, non-sectarian cause.
Work for a charitable Jewish cause.
5. You shall rise above the aged and show deference to the old: you shall fear your God: I am the Lord (Lev. 19:32)
Serve as a volunteer at a hospital, nursing home, or similar organization.
6. When you reap the harvest of your land you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not pick your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I the Lord am your God (Lev. 19:9-10)
Give clothing or other possessions to a charitable institution, or collect for such a institution.
7. Be on guard concerning all that I have told you. Make no mention of the names of other gods; they shall not be heard on your lips. (Ex. 23:13)
Work to help inform the public about an important issue.
8. If you lend money to my people, to the poor among you, do not act toward them as a creditor; exact no interest from them. (Ex. 22:24)
Do volunteer work in your community.
4. Mitzvot in Relation to Your Fellow Human Beings
l. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. (Ex. 20: 13)
Demonstrate honesty when it would be to your advantage to lie.
2. If she proves to be displeasing to her master, who designated her for himself, he must let her be redeemed; he shall not have the right to sell her to outsiders, since he broke faith with her. (Ex. 21:8)
Treat with respect someone whose occupation is menial.
Help someone to become a more religious or self-respecting Jew.
3. When men quarrel and one strikes the other with stone or fist, and he does not die but has to take to his bed – if he then gets up and walks outdoors upon his staff, the assailant shall go unpunished, except that he must pay for his idleness and his cure. (Ex. 21:18-19)
When a man digs a pit or opens a pit and does not cover it, and an ox or an ass falls into its the one responsible for the pit must make restitution: he shall pay the price to the owner, but shall keep the dead animal. (Ex. 21:33-34)
Make amends to someone you have harmed.
4. When a man gives money or goods to another for safekeeping, and they are stolen from the man ‘s house – if the thief is caught, he shallow double; if the thief is not caught, the owner of the house shall depose before God that he has not laid hands on the other ‘s property. In all charges of misappropriation – pertaining to an ox, an ass, a sheep, a garment, or any other loss, whereof one party alleges, ”This is it ” – the case of both parties shall come before God: he whom God declares guilty shallows double to the other. When a man gives to another an ass, an ox, a sheep or any other animal to guard and it dies or is injured or is carried off with no witness abort, an oath before the Lord shall decide between the two of them that the one has both laid hands on the property of the other; the owner must acquiesce, and no restitution need be made. (Ex. 22:6-10)
Help someone without expecting or accepting any reward or payment.
5. When you encounter your enemy’s ass or ox wandering, you must take it back to him. (Ex. 23:4)
Make a special effort to be helpful to someone you don’t like.
6. If it is the whole community of Israel that has erred and the matter escapes the notice of the congregation, so that they do any of the things which by the Lord ‘s commandments ought not be done, and they realize their guilt (Lev. 4:13)
Voluntarily admit doing something wrong and make amends for it.
5. Mitzvot in Your Synagogue
1. And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them. (Ex. 25:8)
Help in building, repairing, or beautifying something in the synagogue.
2. You shall keep my Sabbath and venerate My sanctuary: I am the Lord. (Lev. 19:30)
Attend Shabbat services regularly.
3. Gather the people – men, women, children, and the strangers in your communities — that they may hear and so learn to revere the Lord your God and to observe faithfully every word of this Teaching. Their children, too, who have not had the experienced shall hear and learn to revere the Lord your God as long as they live in the land that you are about to cross the Jordan to possess. (Deut. 31:12-13)
Participate in some special synagogue activity (High Holy Day services, Torah reading, Junior
4. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a symbol on your forehead. (Deut. 6:8)
Attend the weekday morning minyan regularly, wearing t’fillin.
5. Then you shall sound the horn loud; in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month — the Day of Atonement – you shall have the horn sounded throughout your land. (Lev. 25:9)
Learn to blow the shofar and perform this ritual at one of the High Holy Day services in the synagogue.
6. And there you are to bring your burnt offerings and other sacrifices, your tithes| and contributions, your votive and freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and flocks. (Deut. 12:6)
Attend Festival (not High Holy Day) services on a day when it requires you to stay out of school.
7. On the first day vou shall take the product of hadar trees. branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days. (Lev. 23:40)
Buy a lulav and etrog for Sukkot, and use them during services.
8. You shall also give him the first fruits of your new grain and wine and oil, and the first shearings of your sheep. (Deut. 18:4)
Help out in the religious school, the synagogue library, or the synagogue office.
9. You shall not put off the skimming of the first yield of your vats. You shall hive Me the first-born among your sons. (Ex. 22:23)
Organize and direct a special project as a member of your synagogue youth group.
10. If you lend money to My people, to the poor among you, do not act towards them as a creditor: exact no interest from them. (Ex. 22:24)
Lend something of yours without any compensation.
11. Keep far from false charge; do not bring death on those who are innocent and in the right, for I will not acquit the wrongdoer. (Ex 23:7)
You shall not render an unfair decision: do not favor the poor or show deference to the rich; judge your kinsman fairly. (Lev. 19:15)
Maintain your faith in someone’s innocence though circumstantial evidence is against him/her.
12. You shall not insult the deaf, or place a stumbling block before the blind. You shall fear your God: I am the Lord (Lev. 19:14)
Put an end to malicious gossip about someone.
Convince someone, who is prejudiced against Israel, of the wrongness of his/her attitude.
13. Do not deal basely with your countrymen. Do not profit by the blood of your fellow: I am the Lord (Lev. 19:16)
Come to the aid of someone who is being harmed.
14. You shall not hate your kinsfolk in your heart. Reprove your kinsman but incur no guilt because of him. (Lev. 19:17)
Tutor a friend, helping him/her to improve his/her grades or ability.
15. If you see your fellow’s ox or sheep gone astray, do not ignore it: you must take it back to your fellow. (Deut. 22:1)
Return a lost article to its owner at some inconvenience and without accepting an award.
16. You too must befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Deut. 10:19)
You shall not subvert the rights of the stranger or the fatherless; you shall not take a widow’s garment in your pawn. (Deut. 24:17) .
Treat a stranger (visitor) with special kindness and helpfulness.
17. You must return the pledge to him at sundown, that he may sleep in his cloth and bless you; and it will be to your merit before the Lord your God. (Deut. 24:13)
Go out of your way to pay a bill promptly or to return library books as early as possible so others can
18. You have affirmed this day that the Lord is your God, that you will walk in His ways, that you will observe His laws and commandments and rules, and that you will obey him. (Deut. 26:17)
Visit a friend regularly who is sick, either at home or in the hospital.
6. Personal Study Mitzvot
1. Impress them upon your children. Recite them when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deut. 6:7)
Set aside a regular and fixed time for the study of some Jewish subject (outside of Hebrew School and
Bar/Bat Mitzvah studies), or read at least two books of Jewish interest.
2. For you will be heeding the Lord your God, obeying all His commandments that I enjoin upon you this to, doing what is right in the sight of the Lord your God (Deut. 13:19)
Learn the meaning and origin of three different Jewish rituals practiced in your home.
3. Speak to the Israelite people and instruct them to make for themselves fringes on the corners of their garments throughout the ages; let them attach a cord of blue to the fringe at each corner. (Num. 15:38)
Make a tallit, including the tying of the tzitzit, and learn their meaning.
4. But the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God: you shall not do any work – you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, or your cattle, or the stranger who is within your settlements. (Ex. 20:10)
Learn the meaning of the Shabbat restrictions and practice them strictly for a month.
5. Be careful to observe only that which I enjoin upon you: neither add to it or take away from it. (Deut. 13:1)
Raise your grade level in school through special effort.
6. But at the place where the Lord your God shall choose to establish his name, there alone shall you slaughter the Passover sacrifice, in the evening, at sundown, the time of day when you departed from Egypt. (Deut. 16:6)
Go on or plan a trip to Israel for the future, studying about the most important places to visit there.