Bar and Bat Mitzvah Celebrations
During the hustle bustle of a typical week day at CJDS, I participate in a lot of meetings. The meetings vary between the operational side of the school: finance, admissions, development, security and technology are one set and the educational side: student support team meetings, educational leadership meetings, faculty and staff meetings are a second set. Then there are the meetings regarding the progress of our new campus project, board committee, and task force meetings like strategic planning, endowment planning for the future, monthly board meetings and meetings with members of our community, our rabbinic advisory group, our JUF Heads of School council, and the list goes on.
These meetings are all necessary and part and parcel of the job of Head of School. As much as I enjoy meeting with all of the adults involved, I grew up wanting to be a teacher, an educator, and so the favorite parts of my week are facilitating Havdalah for Grades 1-5, Kabbalat Shabbat for Grades 1-8 and meeting with students prior to their Bar or Bat Mitzvah. In general, it is a joy walking the school and seeing our faculty and students engaged in teaching and learning and the various opportunities and occasions when I can participate in morning meetings or other classroom activities.
Meeting with the Pre-Bar and Bat Mitzvah students always gives me insight not only to the students and his or her own individual development, but they give me insights to our school community, their education here at CJDS, and their questions and advice are always welcome as well! One of the themes this year in speaking to our Pre-Bar/Bat Mitzvah students was something I wanted to share with you today...
I always ask students about the process of becoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah, their Parasha, what is most meaningful, and to what they are most looking forward. I also ask about their reflections on their school life here at CJDS and how it connects to the life cycle event they are about to experience. What has stood out to me is how the students talk about the process of preparing their d’var Torah and how their education at CJDS has given them a comfort level and curiosity with and about the text.
One student told me that their work in humanities taught her how to take a closer look and dig deeper into a text. Many students feel a comfort level and familiarity with the Torah texts, so they look forward to tackling a parasha they have heard about and read before, taking the opportunity to give new insights to an old text. Since they have been reading Torah and preparing drash’s (commentaries) since their days in the lower school, the whole process feels comfortable and familiar. They almost all participate in some type of community service project and almost always want to share their thoughts about the project and what they’ve learned as a result of the experience.
When I ask students what they are most looking forward to, they overwhelmingly respond about their family and friends coming in from out of town, looking forward to being with cousins, and having a chance to be with what they call “the whole family” and friends. One other factor that stands out each and every time is how each student can look me in the eye, articulate their ideas, and thoughtfully reflect on the questions I pose to them. Every time I walk away proud of the students in our school and the type of caring, thoughtful, articulate and insightful individuals who have developed in our educational environment.
I encourage every parent in our lower school to take the opportunity at some point to contact Cortney Stark Cope, our Director of Admissions, and take a tour of our middle school, see the environment that is in store for your child(ren). To our middle school parents, if you have not yet attended a Bar/ Bat Mitzvah Torah service and celebration, find a Thursday morning at when you can get away and join us at CJDS Darom for a beautiful experience.
Ms. J (Judy)