The Covenant Grants

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Preparation Program for Children with Special Needs

Organization: Jewish Community Center in Manhattan, New York, NY

Grant Year: 2007

Project Director: Genna Singer

Type of Grant: Ignition

Grant Amount: $20,000 (1 years)

Website: http://www.jccmanhattan.org/

Family Education
Inclusion
Teens

The Jewish Community Center of Manhattan, in partnership with MATAN, started a new Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation program for children with special needs and their families, which was title the 13th Mitzvah.

The JCC of Manhattan and MATAN created a classroom curriculum for this projects based on five components: Holidays, Life Cycle, Structure of the Bible, Content of Genesis and Exodus, and Hebrew reading and decoding.

At the start of the program, Matan staff met with each family to discuss their goals and the different aspects of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah process. Students participated in weekly one-to-one tutoring and small group Sunday classes at the JCC. Classes included Jewish storytelling, an activity or trip, or talking about preparing their speech, all in a focused social environment. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremonies were held at the local synagogues.

The JCC of Manhattan and MATAN supported the synagogue and family throughout the process and worked with the Rabbis to shape the Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony to meet the needs of each child.

Ignition Grantee Reflections: Impacts and Learnings:

“Where are we now, what did we accomplish, and what have we learned?” “Special needs programming at the JCC exposes people to all the differences that exist in the world, showcases others’ abilities, and exemplifies the importance of helping others. The program is consistent with our mission to be inclusive and find different pathways to Judaism. It makes us proud to help others become better selves. It fits in with our other after school programs for teens. It is’ ‘recreational’ but with a clinical lens and focused on academic skills.” —Ellen Goldstein, JCC Development Director

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