Tisdell Events • January 31, 2018
TE For the traditional family, the appropriate date for a mitzvah is the Shabbat on or following the child’s birthday, but for a liberal family, selecting a date can be more complicated. Here are 4 things to consider when choosing a mitzvah date:
- How does the birthday coincide with other aspects of your schedule? Taking a holistic look at your family needs, sport and school schedules, and the timing of other bar/bat mitzvah celebrations at the same congregation can help you to land on a mitzvah date that won’t add any extra stress to your life.
- Do you currently have ties to a congregation that will serve as the venue for the ceremony, or do you need to choose a congregation, or even create an ad hoc one to meet your needs most authentically?
- How do Jewish teachings and practices themselves interact with the family’s situation? For example, how does the child feel about the content of the various possible Torah portions and haftarot? Would he like to choose a date according to the Torah content, rather than accept the content that comes with the date? Does she want to read some part of the weekly portion other than the conventional maftir, because she finds the alternative passage more meaningful?
- Do important family members and friends reside elsewhere? Do they live in accordance with the traditional practice of not traveling on Shabbat? Perhaps its easier to set the date on a Monday that is a secular holiday (like Labor Day or Memorial Day), since traditionally the Torah is read on Monday and Thursday mornings as well as Shabbat? Alternatively, to accommodate out of town guests the family may want to set the Torah reading in the late-afternoon Shabbat service, then celebrate the end of Shabbat with the Havdalah ceremony, and then move into a Saturday-night party.
Setting the date becomes the family’s journey into understanding itself, community, Judaism, and its relationship to God. So enjoy the process and choose a date that is mutually beneficial to as many people as possible.