Open Temple

Innovations in B. Mitzvah

Innovations in B. Mitzvah

By: Rabbi Lori Shapiro

Before rabbinical school, I was a guest at a bat mitzvah. The service was a perfunctory event at one of the largest and most successful synagogues in Los Angeles. Following the service, the guests were bussed to a nightclub on the Sunset Strip. As we ascended up a steep staircase into the club, my chest vibrated with each boom of the DJ’s bass. It was during the peak of Britney Spears’ popularity, and there were literally cages on the dance floor, where the bat mitzvah girl and her friends swayed and danced on their bars like other clubs not meant for 13-year olds on the Strip.

Sitting at a leopard print cocktail table on high stools, I heard a few parents talking about the latest trends in bar and bat mitzvah. “The last one I attended,” one parent with martini in hand shared, “the bar mitzvah boy was carried in by the Laker Girls.” The woman across from her, eyes wide and impressed, responded “the last one I was at, there was a mechanical bull.” The table of parents nodded with some kind of acknowledgement of achievement. I just couldn’t help myself. “The last one I was at,” I shared, “they had God.”

Mordecai Kaplan’s March 18,1922 innovation of bat mitzvah for his daughter, Judith, and its antecedent, bar mitzvah, with roots at Sinai (Mt. Sinai, that is), is one of the greatest innovations of Judaism. It acknowledges that each of us has to find our place in the world, and that we choose Torah as one of our guides to reveal its path. At Open Temple, we honor this tradition in all of its glory, as we breathe new life into this ancient ritual.

Read More about Open Temple’s unique approach to B. Mitzvah
featured in this week’s Jewish Journal here.

For more information on how to make your son or daughter’s
B. Mitzvah unique, personal and impactful:
Email us at:

And, enrollment for The Venice Yeshiva is now live!
“The Venice Yeshiva: Where ‘The Chosen’ Meets ‘Yentl’.
For ages 9-13.
Learn more about Open Temple’s B. Mitzvah program here.

Let’s make the world a better place, one B. Mitzvah at a time.

with Love and Torah light,

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