About the Program
With the proper support, every Jewish child can celebrate a bar or bat mitzvah.
The Gateways B’nei Mitzvah Program is designed to make the b’nei mitzvah milestone possible and meaningful for each student and family, no matter their needs. Our non-denominational program provides students with the one-on-one tutoring, individualized programming, repetition, and practice they need in order to feel confident and successful.
Our two-year program is designed for students ages 11–14, and includes weekly 1:1 tutoring sessions, group classroom activities, and t’fillot (prayer) services. Our experienced special education teachers customize Hebrew, prayer, and Torah instruction for each child and plan lessons that teach specific b’nei mitzvah and synagogue skills.
We Work with You
Gateways coordinates with families and synagogues to ensure that the b’nei mitzvah process is seamless. For families who want their milestone to be celebrated in a synagogue, Gateways collaborates with both parents and clergy to create a plan for preparation, rehearsal, and the day of. We also help families explore other b’nei mitzvah options such as finding unaffiliated clergy, celebrating at Gateways, and more.
Our Three Goals for Our Students:
- Build skills
- Develop Jewish knowledge
- Create community
The students in this class form a cohort: they build friendships, celebrate each other’s achievements, and dance at each other’s b’nei mitzvah.
Explore: A Typical Day at Gateways' B'nei Mitzvah Program
Tutoring: Students arrive, and their tutor and program staff greet them. They each settle into a quiet space with their tutor for 45 minutes of one-on-one tutoring. Each student has an individualized plan: Some learn how to decode Hebrew, others read sight words, some use technology to recite prayers, and some students learn information or skills that align with their interests and individual b’nei mitzvah goals. Gateways carefully matches each student with a tutor who has a passion for Jewish education and whom we have trained to work with students with diverse learning needs. Our tutors come from a variety of backgrounds, and have included rabbinical students, psychologists, businesspeople, teachers, librarians, retirees, and more.
T’fillot (Prayers): Following tutoring, students participate in a class prayer service to practice their skills. Each student has the opportunity to either lead prayers or to engage in other honors, such as carrying the Torah or opening the ark. A visual schedule at the front of the room lists all of the prayers in our service and shows which students will be leading each prayer, so students know exactly what to expect. Students also learn about expected behavior during a prayer service, and are supported as they learn how to sit quietly, use focus tools, and respect their peers as well as the sacred space. Throughout the service, students celebrate each other’s progress and achievements and build a stronger sense of community.
Class Time: After t’fillot, the group comes together for a lesson that builds their knowledge about the meaning of Judaism and of becoming Bar or Bat Mitzvah. The unique two-year curriculum touches on everything from the physical space of a synagogue to challenging questions of who G-d is and why we pray. We explore these topics through a combination of group activities, discussions, PowerPoint presentations, art projects, and other interactive approaches. Our goal is for students to complete the program with a better understanding of the basics of Judaism and of their personal connection to their Jewish heritage.
Explore: B'nei Mitzvah Program Curriculum
Hebrew Reading Program: Gateways utilizes a systematic, multi-sensory approach to teach Hebrew reading. Instructors give students visual cues and mnemonic devices that enable them to decode and, gradually, read text with fluency. Students presenting with a wide range of abilities and needs have experienced great success with this structured, one-on-one, interactive teaching model. Read More
T’fillot Curriculum – During t’fillot, students to come together to practice their new skills as part of a community. Every student is given a job, such as chanting Torah, leading the class in prayer, or opening the ark. The repetition of the prayer service each week, combined with the supportive atmosphere, enables students to participate and lead confidently in preparation for their b’nei mitzvah.
Judaic Curriculum – Designed to be taught in a group setting, the Judaic curriculum brings meaning to the experience students have during tutoring and t’fillot. Students are introduced to an array of topics including understanding the importance of becoming a responsible Jewish adult and of celebrating the bar/bat mitzvah milestone with their community. Through games, presentations and group work, they address questions related to G-d, prayer, mitzvot (good deeds), synagogue, Torah and Jewish history.
In-person programming takes place at the JCC of Greater Boston at 33 Nahanton Street, Newton, MA. If you live outside of this area, contact us for remote tutoring options.
Mid-Week Tutoring and T’fillah
For students interested in individualized tutoring, either to supplement their participation in the Gateways Sunday B’nei Mitzvah Academy or another congregational school program, or as a stand-alone experience, we now offer mid-week tutoring and group t’fillah (prayer). With this new, flexible option, we are hoping to serve more students who would benefit from our specialized model while simultaneously continuing to attend programming at their home synagogues. The hybrid program, available for students attending remotely and in-person, provides students with the one-on-one tutoring, repetition, and practice they need in order to feel confident and successful.
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Enrollment and Financial Information
Forms, instructions, and financial information for enrolling both new and returning students in one of Gateways’ Jewish Education Programs.
B’nei Mitzvah Resources
Find resources to support you in your accessible b’nei mitzvah journey, whether you’re a parent, a clergy member, a synagogue administrator, or a student. We’re here for you.
Click on the image to view our 2022-2023 class calendar.
Frequently Asked Questions
About B’nei Mitzvah in General:
About the Gateways B’nei Mitzvah Program:
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Categories: Specialized Jewish Education Programs