Saturday, January 21, 2012

Bad timing

So this whole bar mitzvah thing...the timing seems to be off.

This is my problem. When J was a little kid, he loved all the Jewish stuff. He loved Shabbat at preschool. He loved the wine, the candles, the challah... He loved saying the blessings. He loved being the Sabbath King. He loved Chanukah. He loved Purim. He loved the seder at Passover.

So we sent him to Jewish day school because we loved how seamlessly his preschool had moved between our two worlds, the American/secular world and the Jewish world. And he loved kindergarten, and he learned to read English, and then in first grade he learned to read and write Hebrew, and he learned some Hebrew words. He liked the bible stories, and he liked learning the morning prayers. He liked the Hebrew songs and Israeli dances. And we went to temple, and he liked the kids' services. And it continued this way, through about fourth or fifth grade.

But now J is 12-1/2, in sixth grade, in middle school, on the brink of adolescence. Currently, he loves 1) basketball 2) x-box 3) his friends, especially if he is playing either basketball or x-box with them. (And playing basketball on x-box with a friend is the ultimate.) But what he isn't really interested in anymore is school, or Judaism. Those things are, to quote J and all his friends, are "boring."

And now it's time to prepare him for his bar mitzvah. He's not resisting, but he's not really into it, either.

So here we are. Now what do we do? How do we make this meaningful at this time in his life?


Kibbitz said...

I know our situation was different in that we did not send J to Day School, but I studied with him all the time and worked in the message that he was learning "lifetime" skills. I found ways to make the Torah and Haftarah portion come alive. One other point, he is reading B'reshit. If you get him to do the first aliyah, you can tell him, he will be like a rock star at any Simchat Torah because he can read it AND everyone sings along.

Chava the riveter said...

I discussed with my son, who was similar, about how this experience will bond him to other Jews he meets. Kind of like the knowing eye of Catholic School grads- those who have lived their B'nai Mitzvah have a bond and it will grow wherever it grows. That is beyond our control- thankfully.