The Congregation has articulated, over the years, a set of expectations for those students who are approaching Bar/Bat Mitzvah. The formal implementation of these ideas has been modified in response to the innovation of our educational programs and priority to have children of Rodef Shalom families engaged in their Jewish education. The following information therefore reflects the spirit of what is desirable in the way of pre-requisites, as well as practical format into which that spirit has been placed.
As a pre-requisite for a Shabbat Morning Bar/Bat Mitzvah date, we expect our children to have completed, by their seventh grade year, at least five years in a recognized program of Jewish education. In Denver, the recognized programs are Kehilat Rodef Religious School (our supplementary religious school) or Denver Jewish Day School (our community Jewish day school). Attendance in other comparable programs is considered for recognition on an individual basis. Additionally, all of our students are expected to have attended the Shabbat School Program of Rodef Shalom in Grades 3 – 5, with an annual participation rate of 70% or better.
Between the 4th and 5th Grade, the students will have an individual conference with the Rabbi to evaluate their Judaic knowledge and Hebrew skills.
During January of the Grade 5 year, the class families are invited to an orientation meeting at which the date selection for Bar/Bat Mitzvah and other related items are discussed. The date selection and assignment processes are then completed soon thereafter.
Grade 6 is the formal commencement of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah training process. Students in this educational year will be expected to participate in two complimentary venues: a monthly class called "Minyan Club," which is taught by the Rabbi and attendance at Rodef Shalom Shabbat Service twice per month. These activities will serve to (a) solidify the sense of community that has been forming during previous years of Shabbat School attendance, (b) instill a context for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah training that considers both history and ethics, and (c) familiarize the student with the Shabbat and weekday morning services, including tallit and tefillin, and the overall synagogue environment. A Saturday night sleepover program at the synagogue – which builds some social bonds and also allows for some more ritual practice - is scheduled for the early Spring.
Towards the end of the Grade 6 year, the class parents will be invited to a meeting with the Rabbi that will provide an orientation to the plans for the individual Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebrations, including Torah honors assignments and the protocol for the writing of Bar/Bat Mitzvah speeches.
Grade 7 features a more informal schedule of class activities on Sunday mornings. The main focus is the wider Jewish community and responsibility to the mitzvah of tzedakah . Each student – in addition to involvement the collective modules – shall be expected to complete a personal mitzvah project and to reflect that project in writing. The culmination of the Grade 7 year is the presentation of certificates to all students who have completed their expectations for Bar/Bat Mitzvah during a special Shabbat morning service. Of course, the students will be spending a great deal of informal time either in the preparation/celebration for their own Bat/Bat Mitzvah or by attending those ceremonies of their friends.