Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mazel tov!

Ever since I watched Fiddler On The Roof, I've been enthralled with the Jewish culture! They have the rich family history, the fun upbeat songs, and of course, the TRADITIONS! I like that the best. I like doing the same things over and over again - it's familiar, comfortable, known. And one tradition that I especially love is their journey from childhood to adulthood - also known as the bar/bat mitzvah. I've worked as a youth leader, since I was a youth! I know how hard that time of young adulthood can be and wanted to do something for my own kids that would affirm them for this journey and since we weren't Jewish, I knew I'd have to find an alternative.

Here is a great bit of advice - if you want to have a good, Godly family find a family who is a couple of steps ahead of yours. If you like how their kids are turning out - latch on! Take them out, ask them questions, find out what it is they have done or are doing - be relentless and take notes - then get to work. When my kids were young, one such family told us about a tradition they were doing with their grandchildren. When they turned 13 they would have all the family members (they have 7 kids of their own) write the child letters of encouragement and then they would throw a big party to celebrate this rite of passage. Great Idea!!

So when our kids were getting ready to turn 13 we planned such a party. We contacted all the important people in their lives - relatives, sunday school teachers, school friends and their public school teachers. We explained that they were having an impact on our child's life thus far and we wanted them to continue to support, encourage and pray for our child. We invited them to write a letter to them that they could look back on in their teen years when life was "hard", they were discouraged, or they just needed that reassurance that someone loved them and is praying for them. We also invited them to come celebrate this special day with us. What great letters we received - advice, special verses, funny stories from their own teen years and best of all - the promise that they would be praying for our child.

When they arrived at the party - the birthday child would greet them and have a picture taken with them. That picture would be included with their letter inside the scrapbook I would later make.

At one point in the party, we would gather everyone together and Cam and I would read our letters outloud, as well as their siblings letter - one personal highlight was 7 year old Dylan warning Megan not to take up smoking just because she was a teenager!

We would then have 2 -3 people pray over them - this could be a youth leader, grandparent, or neighbor.

This has been a very meaningful transition for our kids. It was a day they look back on as being pivitol. It impacted future decisions - when they were faced with a challenge, they knew they had a group of prayer warriors that surrounded them and that they could go to to talk (besides Mom and Dad).  It also proclaimed to teachers and school friends who they were in the Lord and that they believed in prayer.

Cam and I also picked out a special gift that would be meaningful to them in those years - for two of our boys it was guitars, one was a tool set and one a special necklace.

I am happy to say we were able to give this gift to each of our kids and they have the scrap book to look back on to know how loved and cherished they are - this is a tradition that makes sense!!


  1. And Colin sure looks great in that special necklace!

  2. This is excellent. I've heard Ken Miller preach many times about how there is no transition into manhood/womanhood in our culture, and we need to do something about it. I love the idea of erasing the 'juvenile' mentality and asking them to behave as adults once they turn 13.
    And I'm all for latching on to families that are further down the road than we are - why do you think I stalk you so much? ;)

  3. Thank you for sharing this and the details of it! The pastor's wife where we are said she did this "barmitzvah" for her children at that age. Now I'm going to inquire a bit more on what they did. I love your scrapbook idea!! what a momento to savor and look back on.



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