Frequently, The Mitzvah Bowl website receives the same inquiry asking “How far in advance should my son (or daughter) begin working on their mitzvah project?”
We turned to local rabbis for their professional advice to validate what we thought was an appropriate timeframe. The consensus among the clergy is that a student should initiate their project at least six months prior to their simcha.
Rabbi Cynthia Kravitz of Kesher Israel Congregation, West Chester, PA agrees, “Our students begin their 20 hour Tikkun Olam/Social Action Project in the year prior to their becoming a bar/ bat mitzvah.”
Rabbi Eliot Holin, Kol Ami, Elkins Park, PA sums it up by saying “10 months out is a good starting point, but no less than 6 months out.” Part of the dialogue at Kol Ami begins 8-10 months prior with a meeting discussing mitzvah project options with their Director of Education.
Every synagogue does have a slightly different timeline, however, this infographic will summarize our findings with the majority of education directors, rabbis and cantors. We highly recommend that you consult with the appropriate contact at your own shul to guide you through the process.
As Rabbi Kravitz remarked, “ We want our students to feel the intensity of the experience in the year leading up to the simcha. It takes on an added meaning.”
Whenever your child begins the project, whether it be six months to a year prior to their big celebration, remember, it is never too early to learn about giving back to the community. This process doesn’t have to begin or end with their b’nai mitzvah! Tikkun Olam is a lifetime journey!
by Valerie Franklin & Cheryl Friedenberg, firstname.lastname@example.org