Going up We all dance the hora — but why?

One thing all Jews seem to agree on is that a child’s passage into adulthood must be celebrated by the boy or girl being lifted several feet off of the ground in a chair and enthusiastically danced around. But why? “In the Bible, Israelites use dance as a form of religious expression,” Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer writes… Read More

Gently! Gently! A bar mitzvah or a food fight?

Candy is dandy, but “13-year-old friends of a bar mitzvah boy tend to get competitive” when you give them free reign to start throwing stuff at the guest of honor. That’s the experience Rabbi Gilah Langner of Kol Ami, a Reconstructionist Jewish community in Northern Virginia, has had with the custom of showering the bar… Read More

Celebrations for August 31, 2016

Rachel Meira Friedman, daughter of Amy and Michael, will become a bat mitzvah on Sept. 3 at Congregation Olam Tikvah in Fairfax. She will read Torah from parashat Re’eh. Rachel is an eighth grader at Gesher Jewish Day School. For her bat mitzvah project, Rachel has been collecting donations for and organizing groups to volunteer… Read More

Bar/bat mitzvah Q & A

Do I have to have a bar/bat mitzvah? If you mean, do you need to have a ceremony where you read from the Torah, give a speech and have a big party afterward, no you don’t. A boy automatically becomes a bar mitzvah – literally “son of the commandment” – when he turns 13. A… Read More

My bar mitzvah: Words and meaning

When I chanted the haftarah during my bar mitzvah ceremony in 1992 at Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, the words carried extra meaning. That’s because a year earlier my father and I boarded a TWA airplane (remember those?) bound for Tel Aviv, and I made my first trip to Israel where the biblical stories… Read More