Who’s Invited to YOUR B-Mitzvah? Resources

On Monday, August 29, 2023, Moving Traditions’ Rabbi Daniel Brenner, and the screenwriter of You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah, Alison Peck, explored the spiritual and ethical dilemmas that families and adolescents face when they celebrate a b-mitzvah, the social pressures of being a host, and the larger question of how to make contemporary meaning of this ancient rite of passage.

Moving Traditions’ B-Mitzvah Family Education Program uses the opportunities created throughout the B-Mitzvah journey to help adolescents and their families discuss many of these important questions together. We invite you to use the following discussion from our B-Mitzvah Family Session on “Beyond Thank You: What Does It Meant to Be a Host? A Guest?” within your families to explore your values around who you invite and how you express those values through how you host.

If you have already celebrated your B Mitzvah, this can still be a nice way to revisit the memories of the event and reflect on the learnings and how you want to bring them into future events you host and/or participate in as guests.

Watch the Webinar Recording

Two Jewish Teachings about Hospitality

When a guest leaves a party, the host is obligated to escort the guest, even for a very short distance, even if it is only four steps, in order to demonstrate that the host wishes that they could continue to spend time together. In this way, the guest will leave with positive feelings toward the entire experience.  

– Rav Simcha Zissel Ziv, 19th–century teacher of ethics/Mussar  

Questions to Discuss:

  • Why do you think that this teaching suggests exactly four steps? Would walking two steps send the same message?   
  • When you are a host, what should you say to or do for a guest when they leave your celebration?  
  • When you are the guest, what should you say to, or do for, the host when you leave their celebration?  

In Jewish life there is a deep tradition of hospitality – advice about how to be a host and how to be a guest that extends back to Abraham and Sarah being praised for their hospitality. One way to see this, on a spiritual level, is to see it as a cycle of giving and receiving. One where gratitude leads to extending what you have to others. Here is a teaching from Rabbi Marcia Prager, author of Path of Blessing, that helps us envision this process: 

“Once I saw a fountain that was in the shape of a tree. Each leaf collected water and then the water would spill down to the next leaf, then to the next, until it reached the pool and then it was pushed back to the top and the cycle would start again. A “bracha” a blessing, is like that water – the ‘shefa’ the abundant flow of God’s love pours out into the world. When we offer blessings (to one another or to God), we are partners in a sacred cycle of giving and receiving.”  

Rabbi Marcia Prager

Questions to Discuss:

  • What today are ways that people honor their guests and honor their hosts?
  • What are some of the ways that we can offer blessings to guests when we are the hosts?
  • What are some of the ways that guests can bless hosts?

This could be an opportunity to think together about the reasons people give gifts to their guests and what intention you have for that practice.

This webinar was offered as part of Raising Up Teens with Moving Traditions, a series of webinars for parents and educators of Jewish youth.

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