September 27, 2007
The rise of the independent b’nai mitzvah—bane or boon?
'Bar Mitzvah in a Box'
(Page 2 - Previous Page)Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin, author of "Putting God on the Guest List," says that the increase of independent b'nai mitzvah makes him "very uncomfortable." He laments the child being deprived of the warmth and embrace of the Jewish community as well as the obligation to support that community.
According to Salkin, families who can't find synagogues to meet their needs, especially in a city such as Los Angeles, haven't looked hard enough.
"Money is never the object; that's a Jewish urban legend," said Salkin, rabbi and executive director of Kol Echad: Making Judaism Matter, a transdenominational learning community in Atlanta.
Salkin sees these events as the ultimate consumerization of Judaism. "When we say that Judaism is here for my needs, for my family, at the moment when we need it, we've turned Judaism into a consumer good," he said. And, he maintains, we are conspiring in its disappearance.
But the families see the opposite happening.
Harvey Shacket, whose second son, Jeremy, is currently studying for his bar mitzvah with Owen Meldy, believes Meldy is doing a tremendous job of keeping people in the flock.
"He's taught my kids to be Jewish," he said. "It's the best thing we ever did."
For more information, visit Jewish Bar and Bat Mitzvah Service or Hebrew Helpers.
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