Do Bar Mitzvahs Happen on Every Birthright Trip?
Our tour educator explains why he performs bar mitzvahs during the 10-day experience.
The auspiciously numbered 13 aliyot at our Birthright Israel group’s extremely truncated Shabbat Torah service this morning are not the sort of thing you see on every Birthright Israel trip, according to Yoav, our tour educator. While he knows a few other group leaders who offer participants the chance to be called up to the Torah and be named a bar or bat mitzvah, it’s not an official part of the program. “There’s nothing really formal in Halacha,” he told me, referring to Jewish law. Officially, one becomes a bar or bat mitzvah whether or not one is every called up to the Torah, and that it is only the bris, marriage, divorce, and funeral rites that are specified, formalized, and required in Jewish law.
Birthright Israel is ostensibly about connection to Israel. But is a religious service in a hotel basement really about Israel, even if the hotel is a couple miles from the Western Wall? We’re coming across another one of those tricky paradoxes of Israel, Zionism, and Birthright Israel itself. But Yoav was crystal-clear when I asked him what he felt the b’nai mitzvah ceremony is about: “Connection to Jewishness.”
Twelve participants—some raised Catholic, others with little Jewish knowledge—get called to the Torah
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.