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August 01, 1980 - Image 22

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1980-08-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

22 Friday, August 1, 1980

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Controllers Meet in New Orleans

NEW YORK — Control-
lers from federations
throughout the U.S. and
Canada will discuss the fis-
cal and administrative con-
cerns of local federations
and their agencies at the
annual Controllers Insti-
tute to be held Sept. 21-23 in
New Orleans.
The Institute will include

PD POL ADV

VOTE AUG 5TH

PATRICIA A. KELLY

State Representative -- 69th District

workshops on auditing, fed-
eration functional account-
ing and the use of the word
processor and other new
office products.

Bilingual Volume

PHILADELPHIA (JTA)
— A 108-page bi-lingual
Handbook for Soviet Jewish
immigrants has been pub-
lished by the Federation of
Jewish Agencies for the al-
most 5,000 Soviet Jewish
settlers in the Philadelphia
area.

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that bear your name

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in that of someone dear to you, handing
down your last eish from generation to
generation.

A bequest to the J.N.F. is a bequest to the
entire Jewish people, linking the name
of the Testator with Israel in perpetuity.

For information and advice
in strict confidence apply to

JEWISH NATIONAL FUND

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Rabbi Asserts the Americanized Bar Mitzva
Is Costing Congregations Their Membership

By BEN GALLOB

(Copyright 1980, JTA, Inc.)

A retired Massachusetts
Reform rabbi is convinced
that the typical lavish
Bar-Bat Mitzva ceremony
may be a threat to the con-
gregation's stability as
demonstrated by regular
attendance at services, and
that his findings apply not
only to Reform bilt also to
Conservative and Orthodox
synagogues "here and
abroad."
Rabbi Herman Snyder,
rabbi emeritus of Sinai
Temple in Springfield, de-
scribed his concerns in the
Winter, 1980 issue of the
"Journal of Reform
Judaism," the scholarly
quarterly of the Central
Conference of American
Rabbis.
Describing the Bar-Bat
Mitzva as an American
"discovery," he asserted it
was developed and ex-
panded in the United States
"and from here exported to
other countries," including
Israel. For the rabbi, the
ceremony initially emerged
as "a means to an end" —
the solution to the "vexing"
problem of "how to get our
reluctant young people (and
their parents) exposed to at
least a minimal Jewish edu-
cation."
Rabbi Snyder cited
"three major conse-
quences" developing
from the American ver-
sion of the rite. One was
that it was a boon to He-
brew teachers and reli-
gious schools; children
were enrolled in the
synagogue schools to be
"prepared" for the event.
Second, he reported, the
American version "re-
sulted in the creation" of
"an entire industry cater-
ing to the oneg Shabat,

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master charge

Kidush and festive cele-
brations."
Lastly, he commented,
the synagogue, too, profited
because family membership
was made a condition for
religious school enrollment
of the child for preparation
for the ceremony. But when
parents became synagogue
members primarily because
of the ceremony, the inevit-
able problem arises of how
to keep the parents mem-
bers of the congregation and
their children in the
synagogue after the cere-
mony.
In previous periods, no
similar fuss was made about
the rite, Rabbi Snyder de-
clared. In pre-war Eastern
Europe, where Jews were
accustomed to attend serv-
ices daily, there was no spe-
cial preparation of children
who, long before they were
13, "could generally read or
chant any Torah or Haf-
torah portion." On or as
close as possible to the boy's
13th birthday, he was called
to the Torah, whatever the
day.,was, but the Haftorah
reading was reserved "for
the distinguished elders."
Rabbi Snyder also causti-
cally noted that "people rise
from sickbed or travel great
distances to be present.
Business and professional
men who insist they cannot
possibly be away from busi-
ness or office, particularly
on a Saturday, will be found
in the synagogue, if they
have been invited. Even the
golf and tennis buff who
plays every Sabbath 'reli-
giously,' will feel com-
pelled" to attend.
The usual result of such
"outstanding events" is
that "the child is gift-
laden, rabbi-blessed and
— in most cases —
promptly lost to the
synagogue, together with
his family," though the
"euphoria" was great
"while it lasted."
Rabbi Snyder declared
that the ceremony has be-
come "perhaps the most
popular and joyous religious
institution in the American
Jewish community," a
"happy reunion" of family
and friends, many of whom
"seem to be so overcome by
.emotion that they are un-
able even to hold a prayer-

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Bantam in October. A
hardcover edition will be
published in the spring of
1981.

To despise money is to de-
throne a king.

book or to participate in the
service.
The rabbi stressed he was
not dealing with the prob-
lem of the "drop-out" parent
and child. He wrote he sim-
ply wanted to raise the issue
of "whether the ceremony
may not be exercising a de-
structive impact on
synagogue attendance," a
result he said that was
largely unnoticed.
He said that where the
Bar-Bat Mitzva was once
incidental to the regular
Sabbath morning service, in
many congregations the
family and the child now
have "taken over" the entire
service, with attendance re-
stricted to invited guests.
Specifically, he asserted,
"a person who attends every
Sabbath morning, even
when there is a Bar or Bat
Mitzva, is often considered
`strange' and it has been de-
scribed" as "bad taste" to
come to such a service if
"one is not an invited
guest."
Asserting that regular
attendance at services is
"a fragile habit that is
easily broken," Rabbi

Snyder said his findings
were that "regular,
week-in, week-out
attendance is in direct re-
lationship to the extent of
the Bar-Bat Mitzva
child's involvement in the
services." In those con-
gregations "in which the
participation of the
youngster is at a
minimum, regular
attendance is steady"'
and where the "involve-
ment is greatest, the 'reg-
ulars' become fewer," he
said.
He cited a Reform con-
gregation with which he
was familiar and which has
more than 1,000 members
that "now has no Saturday
morning service at all un-
less there is a Bar or Bat
Mitzva and no- member of
the congregation would
think of 'intruding' if not
invited."

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