When members of a household affiliate with Beth Jacob, they do so by signing a document, which begins:
Membership in Beth Jacob recognizes an implied covenant among its members to participate in acts of Torah, Avodah, and Gemilut Hasadim. The congregation recognizes that this covenant has different meanings for each person and that the level of commitment will vary. Movement toward greater depth of involvement in these mitzvot is the goal.
How does this statement affect children’s Jewish education? Unlike adults, children are incapable of making “independent” choices about the level and depth of their Jewish lives. Therefore, it is incumbent upon parents to create opportunities for their children to internalize and personalize the values of Jewish learning and Jewish practices. As stated in the introduction, becoming B’nai Mitzvah is a milestone along the journey of Jewish life, not an endpoint. It is not our intent to teach our students these skills simply for their B’nai Mitzvah. Our intent is to develop passionate daveners and Torah readers who will continue to be involved in Beth Jacob’s ritual life and the ritual lives of their adult congregations.
We believe that achieving this goal can best be met by participation in formal Jewish studies consistent with the norms of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. This can be satisfied in the Twin Cities area by attendance at the Talmud Torah of St. Paul or the Minneapolis Talmud Torah afternoon school or day school. In addition, we expect participation in Beth Jacob’s Shabbat Enrichment program beginning in kindergarten (or upon affiliation with Beth Jacob if past kindergarten) for all of our children. Spending Shabbat morning together is a wonderful way to build a grade-level community. Shabbat Enrichment is not designed as a “drop-off” program, rather an age-appropriate Shabbat experience for your child while you are in Shabbat services. The children join us each week at the conclusion of Musaf so that we can all be together as an entire congregation. You won’t want to miss this special time!
We strongly encourage this as a minimum for B’nai Mitzvah. As stated previously, in addition to participation in the above-referenced programs, children approaching the age of B’nai Mitzvah will meet regularly with our B’nai Mitzvah tutors for approximately eight to twelve months. We are also aware that unique situations may arise that require unique solutions. Rabbi Rubin, in consultation with Rabbi Magill-Grimm and the chair of the Education Committee, may develop an alternate plan in those instances.
Students will also meet with Rabbi Rubin a minimum of three months before their B’nai Mitzvah to discuss and prepare their B’nai Mitzvah D’var Torah.