Some congregations ask the prospective bar or bat mitzvah to do a Jewish study project in addition to his or her preparations for the bar/bat mitzvah ceremony. In the case of the Secular Humanistic Jewish movement, children often do significant Jewish study projects. Frequently in Secular Humanistic congregations, these projects are done under the direction of an adult mentor.
Study projects that can integrate the child’s interfaith heritage include:
A project that looks at the historical interaction between the cultures of his mother and father. For example, a child of a Jewish father and Danish mother could research how Danes protected the Jews during World War II, or a child of a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish Mexican father could write about the Jews of Mexico.
A project based around the values he or she has inherited from his or her parents, culminating with a paper or presentation where the child defines his or her values. You can connect this to the candle-lighting ceremony at the celebration by calling up a family member or friend that embodies each of these values. (See Sample Candlelighting Ceremony.)
A comparative religion study project that looks at the similarities and differences between the child’s parents’ religions. This could be a great opportunity to define the differences between the two religions for the child, as well as for the parents. This is also a great opportunity to determine which rituals and holidays you and your family will observe.
A study project on a Jewish hero in modern times. While this doesn’t necessarily pay tribute to a child’s interfaith heritage, a modern Jewish personality may be more accessible to non-Jewish audiences than a Biblical personality.
The Bar/Bat Mitzvah Ideas and Primer for Interfaith Families is also available as a PDF document.
18Doors is here to support interfaith couples and families exploring Jewish life. We offer educational content; connections to welcoming organizations, professionals and programs; resources and trainings for organizations, clergy and other program providers; and our Rukin Rabbinic Fellowship provides offerings for couples in cities nationwide. If you have questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.