Bar & Bat Mitzvah Preparation
Browse and download free Bar and Bat Mitzvah preparation materials for students with special needs. These materials were created by Gateways' experienced special education teachers and include blessings and prayers with visual supports, guides for writing a D'var Torah, sample bar/bat mitzvah service program guide and vocabulary sheet, and a set of materials developed just for girls preparing for their Bat Mitzvah. We welcome your feedback.
Prayers and Blessings with Visual Supports
Prayers with visual supports were created to help make prayers simple, accessible, and understandable for students with a variety of disabilities. In these files, each Hebrew phrase is illustrated by a simple picture symbol (we use Mayer-Johnson Boardmaker symbols). Students with disabilities can follow along with each prayer and learn to understand its meaning using symbol prayers. Assemble these prayers into a Siddur, or use them to create file folder activities. Audio files of most of the prayers and blessings are available to download (in .wav format) to help familiarize students with the sounds of the prayers and blessings, and to upload to AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) devices.
Ma Tovu with Hebrew transliteration, simplified English translation and visual supports.
Barechu with Hebrew transliteration, simplified English translation and visual supports.
Shema with Hebrew transliteration, simplified English translation and visual supports.
Shema Echad with Hebrew transliteration, simplified English translation and visual supports.
Gadlu with Hebrew transliteration, simplified English translation and visual supports.
Blessing Before the Torah Reading
Blessing before the Torah reading with Hebrew transliteration, simplified English translation and visual supports.
Blessing After the Torah Reading
Blessing after the Torah reading with Hebrew transliteration, simplified English translation and visual supports.
V'zot HaTorah with Hebrew transliteration, simplified English translation and visual supports.
Ki Mitzion with Hebrew transliteration, simplified English translation and visual supports.
D'var Torah Guides
These guides can be used to support students in writing the D'var Torah for their bar/bat mitzvah by giving them tools and guidelines to express and orgainze their thoughts.
Multiple Choice D'var Torah Guide
To help a student prepare for the D'var Torah at his/her bar/bat mitzvah, this simple multiple choice worksheet asks questions about different aspects of a child’s Judaism through visual representations. This guide will allow a family or teacher to craft a meaningful d'var Torah with a student who has difficulty expressing him/herself.
Click here to view a sample D'var Torah created by a Gateways student using the Symbol D'var Torah Organizer.
D'var Torah Graphic Organizer
Graphic organizers allow learners to visually organize known information. This graphic organizer can be used to help a bar/bat mitzvah student write a d'var Torah. It prompts the student with questions presented in logical sequence about the Torah portion itself as well as the student's understanding of the portion.
Click here to view a sample D'var Torah created by a Gateways student using the D'var Torah Graphic Organizer.
Bar/Bat Mitzvah Service Supports
You'll notice that the examples below were created for a specific student's Bat Mitzvah. To learn more about her Bat Mitzvah story, please read Rachel's Bat Mitzvah Journey.
Bat Mitzvah Service Vocabulary Sheet
This Bat Mitzvah vocabulary sheet features short and clear explanations of some Bat Mitzvah basics: mitzvah, kippah/yamulka, tallit, bimah, ark, and many more. This particular vocabulary sheet was created for a specific student who came from an interfaith family, and was included in the program book on the day of her Bat Mitzvah. It is an excellent tool to make a Bat Mitzvah service inclusive, and could easily be adapted for a Bar Mitzvah.
Bat Mitzvah Service Program Guide
Producing a clear and simple service guide like this one, and including it in the program at a child's bar or bat mitzvah, can make the service inclusive of everyone in attendance. Whether intended for the other children in the congregation or for non-Jewish members of an interfaith family, this guide can help everyone follow along and participate in the service. This guide includes a visual representation of the order of the service, and explanation of each part of the service, and an explanation of the Torah's clothes and ornaments. This guide could be easily reproduced and customized to fit any bar or bat mitzvah service.
Girls Only: Bat Mitzvah Specific Resources
Download materials for girls with special needs as they prepare for their Bat-Mitzvahs! Our brand new worksheets, social stories, and accessible biographies of brave Jewish women were created specifically to address the educational, spiritual, emotional, and social needs of girls.
How Do You Feel About Your Bat-Mitzvah?
Having a Bat-Mitzvah brings up many different emotions. While some girls are filled with excitement, others may feel scared or frustrated. This worksheet will help girls to identify and communicate the sources of their feelings. This worksheet is an invaluable tool for tutors and parents who are supporting girls as they approach a Bat-Mitzvah!
The First Bat Mitzvah in America
Read the story of Judith Kaplan, the first woman to have a Bat-Mitzvah in America! This story emphasizes themes of bravery and pride. It also highlights the differences between the first Bat-Mitzvah and Bat-Mitzvahs today (for example, Judith did not hold the Torah, and girls today are usually allowed to hold the Torah). This story is written in Boardmaker Symbolate, so the words are accompanied by Mayer-Johnson symbols which illustrate their meaning. The use of Mayer-Johnson symbols in this story will benefit girls who are visual learners, and will help pre-readers to follow along as the story is read to them.
The First Bat Mitzvah in America Worksheet
This reading comprehension packet accompanies our story of the first Bat-Mitzvah in America. Students are prompted to review the main points of the story through illustrated multiple-choice questions. This packet also includes a section where girls are asked about the positive qualities they think they share with the protagonist of the story, Judith Kaplan.
People Wear Special Clothes to Temple
On most days, a girl might choose to wear pants and sneakers or other casual clothes. But when she goes to temple- especially on her Bat Mitzvah day- a girl must dress differently than she does every other day, and this can be unsettling. This brief social story explains that people wear nice clothes to temple and defines "nice clothes." Reading this social story before going to temple will help girls to feel more comfortable wearing dress clothes.
How to Put on a Tallit (Visual Instructions)
Step-by-step visual instructions remind students of the process for putting on a tallit. Written words acoompanied by photographs make this a useful and accessible tool to a wide range of learners.
Color Match Bat Mitzvah Girls File Folder Activity
A file folder activity just for girls! Match the Bat-Mitzvah girls based on the colors of their clothes, tallitot, and kippot! This activity is important because it exposes students to images of girls wearing tallitot and kippot. This file folder activity is presented with a photograph of the activity and a downloadable kit that includes visual instructions and the materials to make your own!
File folder activities can help children review ideas and become familiar with Jewish objects. The visual nature of file folder activities takes advantage of the visual strengths of children with autism and many other developmental disabilities.
Click for the Gateways Guide to Making File Folder Activities. Or, the File Folder Guide for Teachers gives teachers specific tips for using file folder activities in the classroom. It also gives special instructions for helping students to make their own file folder activities, and tips for storing and organizing your classroom file folder activity library.