Dana has been invited to par-
ticipate in the Hebrew honors pro-
gram at the temple and will make a
pledge at her bat mitzvah to continue
her Jewish education. She also plans
to continue to do mitzvot. "The tem-
ple should continue using the booklet
because everyone learned more about
doing good deeds;' she says.
Rabbi Yedwab says a high percen-
tage of the students continue their
education following bar and bat mitz-
vah. "The bat mitzvah is for the
whole family:' he says. "But it is
usually a monumental experience for
Jessica Kirzner will, deliver a Dvar Torah at her bat mitzvah.
the mitzvot she had done," she says.
"Dana is naturally responsible, car-
ing and committed. She didn't have to
look far to fulfill the mitzvot."
Rabbi Yedwab says the mitzvot
program serves two functions. "It
motivates the student to perform
mitzvot they wouldn't have perform-
ed, and it makes them more aware of
mitzvot they have already been doing.
"Most of the students are doing
beautiful things. The program is most
successful in homes where the
parents get involved. The child learns
from a role model and the involve-
ment of their parents.
"Another benefit we've seen as
rabbis is gaining a deeper understan-
ding of and appreciation for b'nai
mitzvah. You can know everything
about a child and not know them, but
when you see the deeds they do, you
know them on a deeper level."
Rabbi Yedwab brought the pro-
gram to Temple Israel in July 1986.
He says the program was originated
by his mother, Myra Yedwab, an
educator in Lakewood, New Jersey,
and it has spread to many congrega-
tions across the country.
While the program is new, the
philosophy behind it is not. "The
desire to transform the world through
the performance of mitzvot is a cen-
tral aspect of Reform Judaism, and in
fact all Judaism," Rabbi Yedwab ex-
plains. "The Reform Jews have always
In addition to fulfilling the mitz-
vot program, Dana has met all the re-
quirements that a student needs to
become a bar or bat mitzvah at Tem-
ple Israel. She has been a student at
the temple religious school for at least
four years. She has gone to Sunday
school, and has attended Hebrew
classes twice a week. She has met
with a Hebrew tutor to study her
Torah and Haftorah portions, and has
learned all the blessings. She has met
with the rabbi and discussed the
Torah portion as well as the meaning
of the term "daughter of the
"It means you take on more
responsibility being a Jew and you
are considered an adult;' Dana
According to Rabbi Yedwab, the
Talmud states that at age 12 1/2 a girl
becomes a bat mitzvah, and at age 13'
a boy becomes a bar mitzvah. "It hap-
pens automatically:' he says. "They
become obligated to do the command-
ments. In the Reform movement, men
and women are equally obligated and
every right afforded /to men is afford-
ed to women.
"Special celebrations for bar mitz-
vah occurred during the 15th Cen-
tury, and celebrations for girls are
mentioned during the 19th Century!"
ast September, Ilona Gale and
her parents attended a family
service and luncheon at Cong.
Shaarey Zedek to discuss the
synagogue's b'nai mitzvah program.
"We discussed the program and the
expectations and we reviewed the
aspects of the significance of the
bar/bat mitzvah;' says Rabbi Irwin
After attending a b'nai mitzvah
skills class in which she studied the
tropes (musical accents used in recita-
tion) and the blessings, Ilona was
assigned a tutor for individualized in-
struction on her Torah and Haftorah
portion. At a second family service
she received a b'nai mitzvah folder
containing questions about material
learned in preparation for her bat
mitzvah. Her preparation will be the
same as for a bar mitzvah.
Prior to her bat mitzvah she met
with Rabbi Groner to discuss the
answers she has written in the folder.
"Together we review her answers,
thoughts and feelings:' Rabbi Groner
To complete her booklet, Ilona
wrote a summary of her Torah and
Haftorah portion, and a biography of
the prophet in her Haftorah portion.
She defined a page of Hebrew words
and answered questions pertaining to
Jewish women. (For a bar mitzvah of
Cong. Shaarey Zedek, there are ques-
tions about tallit and tefillin.)
In addition to factual questions,
Ilona completed the following
sentences: When I think about b'nai
mitzvah: "I think of growing up and
fulfilling the commandments of the
Jewish people!' At my bat mitzvah I
wish I could: "Have my Russian twin
with me or know she'll be able to
leave Russia!' To me my bat mitzvah
means: "Another milestone in my life
- and the beginning of in-depth Jewish
According to Rabbi Groner, con-
tinued education is the desired goal
of a bar or bat mitzvah. "A bar or bat
mitzvah (ceremony) is very important,
but at the same time it is not the end.
It should inspire successive achieve-
ment that includes confirmation,
religious high school graduation and
continuous Jewish study and involve-
ment during college years!'
Marvin Kasoff, education director
at Shaarey Zedek, hays about 75 per-
cent of the students continue their
Jewish education after the ceremony.
"For a student to have a bar or bat
mitzvah at Shaarey Zedek he must
have a minimum of five years of
Hebrew or its equivalent. He must at-
tend three days of Hebrew school plus
the b'nai mitzvah class or tutorial pro
Dana Rosen participated in her temple's "13 Mitzvot" program prior to her bat mitzvah.