B’Nai Mitzvah

Becoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah is a verb. At Temple David, we want that verb to be embraced by growth and insight, challenge and a sense of accomplishment, and a new yet ageless connection to Judaism and the Jewish people. To that end, we provide individualized tutoring to give our Temple David students the tools, skills, comfort and inspiration to lead much of the Shabbat service as well as chant Torah and haftarah. Rabbi Symons meets with students and their families for workshops as well as for individualized meetings to study the Torah portion and guide the student in writing a d’var Torah, an interpretation of the Torah portion as well as to incorporate special family traditions.

Students are also part of the Chai Lights program in which they engaged in eighteen mitzvot from the categories of Torah/Study, Avodah/Worship and Gemilut Chasadim/Acts of Lovingkindness. Beyond the “mitzvah’ing”, they are to reflect on what they have done – often seeing mitzvot they have done in the past in a new light, and energized by trying new mitzvot.

We want each of our students and their families to celebrate this lifecycle such that the feelings of connection to God, our traditions and the Jewish people stays with them long after they step off the bimah.


Here are some samples of the mitzvot and the students’ reflections:

Read a whole chapter in the book of Genesis. Respond with a poem, essay, song or art. What does it mean to you?

I read the first chapter of the Book of Genesis and wrote a haiku poem.

G-d created Earth:
Day, night, sun, stars, animals;
This all in a week!

Attend Shabbat services

The service was efficient. We started using the new prayer books. They were really cool but kinda confusing with the different page numbers. Harvey retires from the choir. He was there for 32 years! Wow! I thought it was cool that people could say who the old book was dedicated too and if it was yours you could keep it. That’s so nice!

The Brotherhood and Sisterhood Shabbat service was ok. I liked how I got to be part in it and how I got to see my parents be in it too. I thought Phil’s speech was really good and so was my mom’s speech. She worked really hard on it. I would know!

Giving up my recess every Monday to help in a gym class for special needs children.

Every Monday two of my friends and I help our gym teacher with a gym class for children with special needs.  We are all paired with one of the kids and we do things with them.  It feels good knowing that we are giving up our recess to help children with disabilities.  I love helping them and seeing them smile when they do something well.  Seeing them have fun is worth giving up my recess.

Simchat Torah Service

On Wednesday, October 3rd, I went to the Simchat Torah service.  I was sitting in my seat and was very proud seeing the indoor Sukkah standing there because I helped to make it.  I knew building the Sukkah was an important mitzvah to have completed.  I was also proud because I fulfilled my duty of going to a festival service.  Going to the service made me feel good because I was doing what a Jew was supposed to be doing.

Seeing “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”

Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

On January 27th, I saw the Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat play.  I think that the play was very good and I think that 6th graders should especially see the play or movie of Joseph.  I think so because it is hard for me to imagine most of the things that are in the Torah so maybe for other Jews my age also.  Now that I have seen the Joseph play, I can actually imagine being Joseph or Jacob in the Torah or relate to them.  I think that if kids my age saw the Joseph movie or play, they would understand the parashah of Joseph better.  I enjoyed seeing the Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat play.

I donated non-perishable food to the Westmoreland County Food bank.

I chose the Westmoreland County Food Bank because a lot of people rely on it to feed them.  With Thanksgiving, the winter holidays, and cold weather coming up, people need food more than ever.  My family is so fortunate to have food and we even have extra.  Our pantry is always full of extra canned foods we do not need, so the Food Bank is better off having it because there are people who do not have any food.

Visiting the Holocaust Museum

When I visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., we saw what one boy’s life was like.  First we watched a video about him and his family.  Then we walked through what his house would have looked like.  At a certain point where a shop in his village was it was very sad because the windows of the shop were broken and there were signs saying that the Nazis had taken it over.  It was actually the boy’s family who had owned the little shop.  My family and I all thought that it was very sad.  There were pictures of the Nazis coming to a swimming pool with dogs and they were kicking out all the Jews that were swimming.  I couldn’t believe it.  It was very sad to see what the Jews had to go through and what I would’ve had to go through during the Holocaust.

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