Each week, a group of more than 120 congregants gather together at Kol Yakov Yehuda for their regular Shabbat prayer. The rabbi gives a sermon, the president makes announcements and the congregation follows along with the occasional chitchat, followed by a Kiddush. In addition to having its own Web site and an annual fundraising banquet, Kol Yakov Yehuda seems like any highly functional congregation.
Except the congregants are too young to vote or drive, and many can't see a PG-13 movie without a parent.
For many teens, having a bar or bat mitzvah is both a beginning and an ending. According to Jewish tradition, the ceremony signifies a child's transition into manhood or womanhood. For some teens, it also marks the end of a structured Jewish education. Some kids dread Hebrew school and deem this coming-of-age ceremony their educational swan song. On the other hand, some parents see the bar or bat mitzvah as a means to an end, leaving teens to discover where Judaism fits into their lives on their own.