Chief Rabbi pledges to transform barmitzvah ceremonies within two years
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Chief Rabbi pledges to transform barmitzvah ceremonies within two years

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
15.07.2015  Chief Rabbi's Conference at Finchley United Synagogue, with guest sparker, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe. www.blakeezraphotography.com
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis speaking during the Chief Rabbi’s Conference at Finchley United Synagogue,  (Photo credit: Blake Ezra Photography)

Boys about to start preparing for their barmitzvah will no longer just study a portion from the Torah, but will instead learn to lead a whole prayer service, said Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis this week.

Addressing a conference at Kinloss in Finchley, Mirvis outlined a raft of changes, telling rabbis that to “change our services from being bimah-centric to congregant-centric,” to leave congregants “more Jewish-ly charged”.

He also made the “unusual” offer of “inviting everyone to midnight slichot service with me at Kinloss,” ahead of the High Holy days, and committed to meeting every communal Rabbinic couple in the UK before Pesach.

But it was his announcement on barmitzvahs that raised eyebrows. “On barmitzvahs, we often get it wrong,” he said, revealing his agreement and consultation with Dayan Binstock on the issue. 

“We spend 15 months teaching a boy to do something that will take him 20 minutes to do, and which he will never do again in his life,” said Mirvis. “Surely it’s better to teach our boys how to daven (pray), because once they can lead a service, they can follow any service.” 

He told more than 100 rabbis present to start the new teaching straight away with any boys beginning their barmitzvah learning, while those who have already begun learning could continue as before. Mirvis said he would engage Jewish schools to help roll it out.

“Let us guarantee that from two years’ time, every barmitzvah boy in our community will have a component of tefillah (prayer) as part of his celebration. This can be for him to lead part or all of the service.”

In addition, Mirvis will hold a seminar on “developing and enhancing the way that we approach batmitzvah ceremonies,” again acknowledging that “in many of our shuls we can do better”.

Outlining the changes, he said: “We need to see fruitful follow-up in the years after, that devening will be part of the course, and that there will be a prayerful ingredient. In so many of the ceremonies, girls stumble over the one or two Hebrew verses. The overall knowledge around the siddur is relatively poor.”

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments