We celebrated our daughter Tiferet becoming a bat mitzva with family and friends in the archaeological park along the southern wall of the Temple Mount early in the morning – that was back in August 1996 and I still remember how hot it was by mid morning and how our younger son Amitai who was 6 years old at the time foraged for figs that grew on the trees nearby.
Today the popular place is on the Herodian street that runs along the Western Wall, among the massive stones that were pushed from the wall by the Romans almost 2000 years ago, a silent reminder to the destruction of the Second Temple and the downfall of Jerusalem.
We celebrated our son Uriel becoming a bar mitzva by organizing a trip to Peru with close friends, hiking for 4 days along the Cuzco trail to the sacred Inca site of Machu Pichu. We carried a Sefer Torah with us which we read on Monday and Thursday on the trail, on Rosh Hodesh (the new month) at Machu Pichu and on Shabbat back in Cuzco.
Some families have climbed the Snake Path to the top of Masada at sunrise, as a sort of physical rite of passage and celebrated a bat mitzva in the ancient synagogue or one of the rooms in the casement wall used by the Zealots. I think it would be very special to celebrate a bar or bat mitzva within the ruins of one of the ancient synagogues, for example at Baram or Korazim in the Galilee or at Herodium.
Besides it being meaningful to experience Israel as part of becoming a bar or bat mitzva, friends and family can explore and enjoy the sites and nature of Israel and feel the connection between the Torah reading and the land. As Reb Shlomo Carlebach used to say, “The Torah is a commentary on the world and the world is a commentary on the Torah”.
Not every guide is able to make all the arrangements necessary for a bar or bat mitzva celebration in Israel – provide a Sefer Torah, ensure a minyan, take professional photographs, arrange the prayer service, do the guiding that makes Israel part of the experience.
I work closely with Bonna Devora Haberman, one of the original organizers of Women of the Wall, a gifted educator, scholar and mentor who will lead the prayer service together with the bat mitzva. We would be happy to arrange your bat mitzva in Israel, just contact us.
Here are some of the photos that I took at Rachel’s bat mitzva in the summer.