For many kids, participation in congregational life ends shortly after their bar or bat mitzvah. In a program being billed as a fresh look at this age-old problem, 14 Reform synagogues across North America, including Lafayette’s Temple Isaiah, have been chosen to participate in “B’nai Mitzvah Revolution.”
The initiative, a joint project of the Union for Reform Judaism and Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion, will provide seed funding, training sessions for clergy and other resources to help each synagogue institute programming to help keep kids and families engaged after their b’nai mitzvah.
According to URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the program was born after he and other clergy reviewed statistics showing that just half of Reform Jewish teens return to congregational life after their b’nai mitzvah and only 20 percent stay beyond 10th grade. “We cannot afford — on any level — to allow our teens to leave our Jewish institutions just as they are entering critical identity-making years,” he said in a statement.
Rabbi Nicki Greninger, director of education at Temple Isaiah, said she and the other staff at the congregation were “thrilled to be part of this conversation.”
“I would say Temple Isaiah already does a pretty outstanding job of engaging our kids and teens,” said Greninger. “But it’s exciting to be part of a community that’s decided to focus on changing Jewish education in this way.”
The first cohort meeting will take place in Reistertown, Md., in November. Leaders from each synagogue will participate in a seminar to discuss new approaches to b’nai mitzvah preparation, as well as talk about Hebrew instruction and other aspects of Jewish curriculum. For information, visit www.bnaimitzvahrevolution.org.