I have long been a fan of Ritualwell, an online resource center where one can learn about Jewish rituals and practice, browse a large bank of new and innovative Jewish prayers and rituals, and find resources and materials to enhance one's own spiritual practice.
This spring they've launched a series they're calling #ReimagineRitual, and the first ritual they wanted to explore is b'nai mitzvah, our coming-of-age ceremony for thirteen-year-olds. First they shared some blog posts about new ways of thinking about b'nai mitzvah (don't miss Renewing the Bar/Bat Mitzvah One Student At A Time). Then there was a #ReimagineBnaiMitzvah chat on Twitter. And then they commissioned me to create something new.
My offering is now live on the Ritualwell site. Here's the introduction I wrote to contextualize the prayers I shared:
After the #ReimagineBnaiMitzvah chat, what emerged for me most strongly were not answers but questions. People tweeted a lot of questions: how can we encourage students to take ownership of their own b'nai mitzvah journey? Is there a way to do b'nai mitzvah which doesn't reinforce binary notions of gender? How can we tend to the unique soul of every child, regardless of where they are on the spectrum of gender and sexuality? Is there a core body of material which we expect our b'nai mitzvah students to master? What kind of role does (or should) social justice play in their learning?
These prayers arose in response to the chat. I hope that they will speak to our b'nai mitzvah students, to those who are entrusted with their care—and also to people in "traditional" congregational contexts, and people whose Jewish lives unfold outside of congregational walls.
I wrote a pair of prayers to use as the b'nai mitzvah ties tzitzit onto their tallit before the celebration, and a trio of prayers (one for parent or caregiver, one for the student who is coming of age, and one for the rabbi or spiritual leader) to be used at the celebration itself.
You can find my offering here at Ritualwell: Blessings for a B'nai Mitzvah. Feedback welcome, here or there!