A Special Path to B'nei Mitzvah

Do you have a child with learning differences?
Are you questioning whether your child can have a meaningful bar or bat mitzvah?

Your Child Can!

Watch below to hear firsthand from parents who have experienced the journey from, “Is a bar or bat mitzvah even possible?” to, “I’m filled with pride at what my child has been able to accomplish.”

A Special Path to B'nei Mitzvah Webinar Panel  


This program is made possible with grants from CJP to support communities in the Metrowest, South Area and North Shore regions.

Lauren's Bat Mitzvah

The Gateways team and Lauren’s mom shared information with me about her strengths and learning style. Lauren shared ideas about what she thought was important about becoming Bat Mitzvah.Learn more »

A Special Bat Mitzvah

Ashley began in the Sunday program and eventually the b’nei mitzvah class. She loved Gateways and stated that she wanted to have a bat mitzvah like her sister did. I talked with the staff at Gateways and we started on a two-year journey of her preparing for a bat mitzvah. It was scheduled for April 20, 2013. After the horrific events earlier that week, she was a light that shone through during a dark time.Learn more »

Isabella's Bat Mitzvah

Isabella’s bat mitzvah day was one that I never expected to experience, a day that as a mom, I hoped and prayed for, but knew that the odds were against us. To be on the bimah, reading Torah with my daughter, I can only say, “Well, my Izzy Bee, you proved those odds wrong, as you have done so many times.”Learn more »

Mother, father and twin 13-year-old boys

Our Spectrum

People who aren’t on the spectrum pick up things intrinsically. But for people on the spectrum it’s incredibly difficult, and it can take them a lot longer to get tasks done. So, it can take a lot of patience. As a parent, I do a lot of deep breathing, and work on my ability to “roll with it.” We do our best, practice Sam’s routines over and over and tap into our ‘patience bucket.’Learn more »

Our Inclusive Community

This PDF booklet includes articles published in our blog about other students, by a student, a tutor, a parent, a rabbi, and others.Learn more »


Videos of our B'nei Mitzvah students can be found here.


B'nei Mitzvah Resources

These resources are PDFs unless otherwise noted.

Intake form
This form helps parents to create a vision for their child's bar/bat mitzvah and communicate that vision to Gateways staff and their clergy.

Learning Hebrew, Prayers, and Torah Portion

  • Hebrew Program Information
    Learn more about the unique multi-sensory approach to teaching Hebrew decoding at Gateways.
  • Sample Prayer written with Symbols 
    At Gateways prayers are illustrated using Boardmaker's Picture Communication Symbols®.  Symbols help to illuminate the meaning of the prayers while making them more engaging and easier to read.
  • Sample Torah portion instruction page 
    Gateways students learn to chant one trope phrase at a time.  First they read the phrase in large text with vowels and musical notes.  Then they gradually transition to chanting from the Torah script.
  • Sample Torah Portion with symbols 
    Some students learn to read Torah portions that are illustrated using Boardmaker's Picture Communication Symbols®.  The colored dots above each symbol represent the trope notes.
  • Sample translated Torah portion with comprehension questions 
    This Torah portion was turned into a booklet illustrated with Picture Communication Symbols®. Reading comprehension questions were added to help assess how well the student understood their Torah portion.

Writing a D'var Torah:

  • Sample Conversation: D'var Torah 
    Instead of reading a long speech, some students have D'var Torah 'conversations' with their rabbis.  These conversations break up the D'var Torah into manageable chunks, prompt the student about what part comes next, and help the student feel supported on the bimah.
  • D'var Torah Graphic Organizer 
    Graphic organizers are tools that help students to arrange their thoughts and structure their writing.  This worksheet can help struggling writers describe and analyze their Torah portions.
  • Sample D'var Torah written with Graphic Organizer 
    This D'var Torah was written by a Gateways student with the help of the graphic organizer above.
  • D'var Torah Symbol Template 
    This fill-in-the-blank template uses Boardmaker's Picture Communication Symbols® to give students who struggle with verbal communication an opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings about Jewish observance. 
  • Sample D'var Torah written with Symbol Template  
    This D'var Torah was written by a Gateways student with the help of the graphic organizer above.

On the Day:

  • Sample Bar/Bat Mitzvah Schedule 
    When students know what to expect on the day of their b'nei mitzvah it can reduce their anxiety and help keep them on track.
  • Expected Behaviors 
    Students sometimes need reminders of behavior that is expected in synagogue.  This is a sample template of a list that can be used to prompt them to follow the expected behaviors.