Never assume your teen can’t have a bar or bat mitzvah because of special needs. Rabbi Jason works with dozens of teens who weren’t able to attend Hebrew School for a variety of reasons, including learning differences, behavior issues or special needs.
Rabbi Jason is happy to work with each family to create a bar or bat mitzvah ceremony that is tailor-made for your teen. No challenge is too much for Rabbi Jason. He feels that every Jewish child is deserving of a bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah ceremony. Do not hesitate to call Rabbi Jason to discuss your teen’s situation. Remember, each mitzvah ceremony is tailor-made for your son or daughter.
For parents who have a child with special needs, preparing for a bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah ceremony will seem very challenging. However, Rabbi Jason Miller has been working with children with special needs to learn Hebrew and prepare for their bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvah for over twenty years. Rabbi Jason is patient and has many tricks to make the mitzvah planning experience stress-free and successful. Rabbi Jason is supportive, encouraging and creative to all students, but especially to those with special needs or learning challenges.
What is surprising to many people is that there are no absolutely mandatory requirements for a bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah. In fact, a Jewish male child becomes a bar mitzvah when he turns 13-years-old. A Jewish female child becomes a bat mitzvah when she turns 12-years-old. These are simply age designations in Judaism. There’s nothing a Jewish child needs to actually do to reach this milestone. However, we incorporate Jewish rituals to make the mitzvah milestone both meaningful and memorable. Therefore, each mitzvah ceremony is unique. That means that we can adapt and modify the typical mitzvah ceremony for children with special needs.
Rabbi Jason will train your son or daughter for their bar/bat mitzvah using a positive approach that is individualized. Rabbi Jason subscribes to the notion that each child is unique and therefore, he trains each student according to their learning style keeping special needs and learning differences in mind at all times.
Most synagogues and temples struggle with training children with special needs for bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah services. Additionally, congregations are not good at creating alternative bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah for children with special needs. This is because they have a “cookie-cutter” bar mitzvah procedure in place and it’s too difficult for them to deviate from this.
RESOURCES AND PROGRAMS
Matan: Based in New York City, Matan educates Jewish leaders, educators and communities, empowering them to create learning environments supportive of children with special needs, through training Institutes and consultations across North America.
Whole Community Inclusion: An initiative of the Jewish Learning Venture, with programming that engages people with special needs and their families, and empowers congregations to be more inclusive.
Ma’ayan: Based in Westfield, NJ, Ma’ayan serves to support both congregants of Temple Emanu-El as well as families who are affiliated with another synagogue to supplement their child’s existing religious education program.
JBI International: The JBI Library provides individuals who are blind, visually impaired, physically handicapped or reading disabled with books (including the Tanakh), magazines and special publications of Jewish and general interest in audio, large print and braille formats, free of charge.
For more thoughts and insights about planning a bar/bat mitzvah for someone with special needs, you may want to watch the film Praying with Lior about a boy with special needs and his family planning his bar mitzvah.