After many years, I have decided to up our Brit Mitzvah game. Our current guidelines requiring 15 Shabbat morning over the course of two years are over a decade old. Over the years, I have listened to parents' and children’s feedback and I think it is time to try something new.
I started by going back and reviewing some of the original goals of the process that inspired the requirement.
Develop a deeper connection to the CBH community
Cultivate a meaningful understanding and a spiritual connection with Shabbat services and prayer
Enable our families and children comfort and confidence in participating and leading Shabbat services
Spread the commitment over 2 years to make it easier to achieve
While the vast majority of our children do achieve the 15 services guideline and are well equipped to lead their services, it is not without a fair amount of urging and reminding from staff and complaints from families. Moreover, this achievement does not always fulfill the goal that our families develop a deeper connection to the community.
One unspoken goal that I have is that our children enjoy and look forward to the process. And the 15 Shabbat morning requirement has been the area with the greatest pushback. I thought this could be a good time to make a change.
Rather than requiring 15 services, I have decided to look at the goals and make a game out of it: Bingo! To “win” the game, each child will be asked to fill either 3 columns or rows. There is one row that is required, which has 5 squares of Shabbat morning services. In addition to the Shabbat morning services, kids can mark off other squares like Friday night services, Holidays, Finish Tikkun Olam Project, Meet with the Rabbi, Have Shabbat dinner at home, etc. Most of these may also be substituted by a Shabbat morning service if your family chooses. (See the image of the card)
Instead of a sign-in sheet, there will be a bingo card with your child’s name on it at all services. We will also send you a copy of the card so you can see the options. When a child finishes a column or a row, their name will be put in for quarterly drawings of gift cards to Bruster's Real Ice Cream. And if a child should complete an entire card, they will be able to draw for a money amount from $18 - $180 to be donated to their tikkun olam project.
My hope is that this will be fun for all our kids. On one hand, Bingo Brit Mitzvah diversifies and eases up on the requirement for families who need it and gives incentives for families who strive to do more. Most importantly, I hope it will strengthen the connection between our families and the congregation.
- Rabbi Josh
(To see full card, click on the PDF link on our B'nei Mitzvah page.)