This program is operated by the Living Bridge coordinator (Chaim) in Israel together with the YS
We have designed a new program to introduce the partnership to a new target population, believing that the special year in their life is a window of opportunity to engage them with the partnership and Jewish peoplehood. The intention was to collaborate with congregations and cultivate a group made of teens who celebrated their Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
The program that was designed took the teen through a personal, familial and communal journey, while combining fun and challenging activities such as photography exhibition of their Jewish world, Kabalistic Aliya to the Torah, baking Mishloach Manot for the elderly as a Jewish community service project, and a challenging tasks-based field trip marking their transition from childhood to adolescence.
Program update July 2011 – summer 2012:
In Israel a group of 20 teens have meet regularly and took active part in all segments of the program, as described above. Most activities were meaningful and fun, but the group did not become a cohesive group due to a limited number of sessions as well as the fact that they were not an organic group such as a class. Unfortunately, the aspired goal of creating parallel groups from both sides of the ocean, with relationships between them, did not materialize this year, and has led us to believe that the ultimate platform for Bar Mitzvah program is School Twinning as opposed to community-based groups.
Adherence to the Partnership vision and strategy:
This has been the first year of implementation for this program. We have few lessons to learn on how to improve it next year… creating a non-organic group that meets only 6 sessions makes group building challenging. Implementing the program in a class as part of school twinning might be better. Also, although the sessions were built thoughtfully, it has been too demanding on this young group of teens. Focus on art and photography exchange of how the teens capture their Jewish world – will give more exposure to the program and might be easier.
For the Israeli group, the Kabalistic Aliya to the Torah in old city of Zfat was very special, as well as the field trip that was based on accomplishment of maturity tasks.
In Palm Beach, purchasing gifts from the Partnership region was very nice but too expensive and not necessarily achieving an important goal other than exposure of the partnership.
If planned more adequately and effectively, the program definitely adheres to the new vision and strategy of the partnership by strengthening Jewish identity, engaging teens and their families, and providing experiences in the region.