Las Vegas Bar/Bat Mitzvah Ceremony

Can you Imagine a Bar/Bat Mitzvah that your child wants to participate in?
That’s the goal of the Alternative Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony!

There are other options for unaffiliated families who wish to celebrate their child’s becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah.  A Bar/Bat Mitzvah does not have to take place in a synagogue which may surprise many.  It can take place anywhere that there is a minyan (10 Jewish adults) present for public prayer and public reading of the Torah.  A synagogue is holy only as a place of worship, but not intrinsically so.
Preparation for a non-traditional Bar/Bat Mitzvah generally involves myself or a tutor closer geographically who comes to the families’ homes to work with the child or children.  This is a convenient option for many families who find it difficult to transport their children to and from the synagogue two or three times per week. It also allows for greater scheduling flexibility wherein the tutor works with the student at a time that does not conflict with other activities and obligations.
While physical presence is ideal there are times that sessions over video chat (skype or google voice) is the best option. I have prepared children who live in other states and plan on coming to Las Vegas for the ceremony.
With many direct flights from nearly everywhere within the U.S. , and many affordable attractions for the whole family, Las Vegas is the ideal place to have a destination Bar/Bat mitzvah ceremony. Not to mention a fun place to have the party!

I have taught in and ran various traditional and non traditional Hebrew schools throughout the years. This experience has enabled me to create a program that is engaging, effective, meaningful and suitable for the whole family. So what are you waiting for? Hit the contact button – let’s begin an exciting and rewarding journey together!
Contact Rabbi Shai

Living What You Love

We could all use more LOVE in our lives, and the more we give the more we get.

Samuel ibn Magrela was a Spanish-Jewish poet of the eleventh century who was vizier to the king of Granada. He was cursed one day in the presence of the king, who commanded Samuel to punish the offender by cutting out his tongue. The Jewish vizier, however, treated his enemy kindly, whereupon the curses became blessings.

When the king next noticed the offender, he was astonished that Samuel had not carried out his command. Samuel replied, “I have torn out his angry tongue, and given him instead a kind one.” The Rabbis rightly declare, “Who is mighty? S/He who makes his enemy a friend.” (Avot d’Rabbi Nathan 23)

We can take this statement even further and say “Who is mighty? S/He who makes her/himself a friend.” Lack of love for ourselves inhibits our compassion toward others. When we make friends with ourselves, there are no obstacles to opening our hearts and minds to others. Of course we have to walk a fine line between loving/valuing ourselves and being too self-involved/absorbed.

Loving oneself certainly doesn’t mean indulging oneself. Loving is an attitude towards yourself that most people don’t have, because most people know things about themselves which are not desirable. Everybody has innumerable attitudes, reactions, likes and dislikes which they’d be better off without.

Self Judgment is made and while one likes one’s positive attitudes, one dislikes the others. With that comes suppression of those aspects of yourself that you’re not pleased with. You don’t want to know about them and don’t acknowledge them. That’s one way of dealing with your-self, which can be detrimental to growth.

Another unskillful way is to dislike that part of yourself which appears negative and every time it arises you blame yourself, which makes matters twice as bad as they were before. With that comes fear and very often aggression.
If you wants to deal with yourself in a balanced way, it’s not useful to pretend that the unpleasant part doesn’t exist, I am talking about those aggressive, irritable, conceited tendencies.

The charge of “I’m so wonderful” or “I’m so terrible” is defused. We are neither wonderful nor terrible. Everyone is a human being with all the potential and all the obstructions. If you can love that human being, the one that is “me” with all its faculties and tendencies, then you can love others realistically, usefully and helpfully.

If we look at ourselves in that manner, we will learn to love ourselves in a wholesome way. Just as a mother, who at the risk of her life loves and protects her child… Become your own mother! If we want to have a relationship with ourselves that is realistic and conducive to growth, then we need to become our own mother. A sensible mother can distinguish between that which is useful for her child and that which is detrimental, but she doesn’t stop loving the child when s/he misbehaves.

This may be the most important aspect to look at in ourselves. Everyone, at one time or another, misbehaves in thought, speech or action. So what do we do with that? What does a mother do? She tells the child not to do it again, loves the child as much as she’s always loved her/him and just gets on with the job of bringing up her child. Maybe we can start to bring up ourselves.

When you Love yourself enough, you will move through your Heart to the negative pole, and begin the work of bringing all your negative thoughts, feelings, words, and actions to consciousness.

The energy of your Self-Love will begin the movement of these negative patterns through your heart, and toward the positive pole of your soul. It takes stamina, courage, strength, relentless attention, and great Self-Love, to move from inertia into momentum toward the positive pole.

Find a way to be thankful for your troubles, and they can become your blessings.

Bar Bat Mitzvah Ceremonies

Although the ritual of bar mitzvah dates back almost two thousand years and has been a staple in our tradition ever since, the Reform Movement abandoned it in its early years. Along with many of the ritual laws and minhagim (customs), the Reform Movement felt that bar mitzvah was no longer a pertinent ritual. A boy, only 13 years in age, no longer had the adult status in society that he once had. Reform introduced the ceremony of confirmation, whereby a group of young men and women would become confirmed together around the age of 16 following years of education. However, the power of tradition eventually prevailed: Reform brought back the bar mitzvah for boys and even introduced the bat mitzvah for girls. s Bar Bat mitzvah ceremonies

Today with the increase in interfaith marriages, the choice to send a child to a religious school, whether it is Jewish or another religion’s, is not an easy one to make. There are more extra-curricular activities and greater academic pressures nowadays which can often take precedence over religious schooling. Parents often choose to maintain religious traditions associated with the holidays at home, instead of sending kids to school to learn about them. Regardless of a child’s religious schooling, they should be entitled to a bar/bat mitzvah. Just as one born of a Jewish mother is no less Jewish if he never had a bris, a Jew becomes bar mitzvah, according to Jewish law, simply by reaching the “age of majority.” No other conditions apply. Nonetheless, knowing that a ceremony is not necessary to one’s becoming bar/bat mitzvah means little to many families and their children who want to experience this meaningful lifecycle event.

There are other options for families not affiliated with a synagogue who wish to celebrate their child becoming a bar or bat mitzvah. A bar/bat mitzvah does not have to take place in a synagogue. It can take place anywhere that there is a minyan (10 Jewish adults) present for public prayer and public reading of the Torah. A synagogue is holy only as a place of worship, but not intrinsically so.

Rabbi Shai welcomes the opportunity to teach Judaism, prepare and preside over a ceremony that takes place in locales beyond the synagogue. No Jewish child, whether the child of two Jewish parents or just one, should be denied the opportunity to have this special lifecycle ceremony.

Contact Rabbi Shai for More information

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