Beyond Sunday School: A Call to the Children of Israel.
If you, like many, stopped your spiritual education at age 13 or 12, you may see the world like an adolescent. Similar to The High Priest Aaron, of blessed memory, modern rabbis are not able to prevent the dance around the Golden Calf. The calf has grown into a sacred cow. With good intentions but impure hearts the leaders of the denominations of Judaism constructed this modern version of idolization
How does a sacred rite of passage become gilded? Bar or bat Mitzvah as graduation from Judaism has left us the “Adolescents of Israel.” Our development is arrested at about age thirteen. This ritual is responsible for Bar Mitzvah Boy (and Girl) Syndrome. Will we ever grow up?
After years of Hebrew and Sunday school we somehow produce students who know little or no Hebrew. Confirmation at age 15 is not enough. The best efforts of our rabbis and synagogues are failing. Time to shutter up these schools and move the age of Bar and Bat Mitzvah to 21, or better yet what ever year our children graduate college. This bar or bat mitzvah celebration will not be a graduation, but a reaffirmation of continuing education.
This done, every student will mature into an understanding of what is essential in our glorious tradition. Next, all will affirm a commitment to fill the Temples of the mind with knowledge, wisdom, and understanding, and the chambers of the heart with love and kindness. Our homes will be transformed into sanctuaries and our tables ordered by our tradition. Free from rabbis and ritual committee’s, religion will once again be personal. You will be a master teacher in your home and the transmitter of tradition to your children.
This is not a new model. This is our tradition.
Then, all will confront, a fact hidden like some kind of cabalistic secret.
One becomes Bar or Bat Mitzvah the moment they are thirteen, or twelve.
No ritual required.
Membership In a synagogue or Temple is not necessary.
Nor is attendance of Hebrew School or Sunday School.
These fictional prerequisites were made up by denominational organizations to fund the factories that produce Adolescent
Religion Syndrome and Bar Mitzvah Boy Syndrome.
So, my children. Time to talk.
Do you hear the call of the God who is the lover of our people? This day?
Do you speak the wisdom of Torah in every room in your home? Do you know how to listen? How to eat? How to learn? How to teach? Is your minds eye focused on a daily practice? Have you defined your Sabbath? Not the Rabbis Sabbath which many of you reject out of hand.
Have you grasped the fundamental teaching that we are commanded to write all this on the doorposts of our homes before we write them on our gates to remind us a sustaining order of spiritual life?
Have you mentioned to your children their obligation to be master teachers and leaders? This is what we are chosen to do.
Are you aware that the Sunday school model is broken, beyond repair, demanding denominational rabbinic and lay leaders embrace a reordering of modern Jewish life?
Bar and Bat Mitzvah as an endpoint and door closing is an abomination.
The fancier the party the greater is the affront to all that is sacred in our tradition. My rabbinic position is that Bar and Bat Mitzvah as graduation
or an end point is forbidden. Dance with the Torah, not around the Golden Calf.
Time for Tikkun.