As advocates of Public Space Judaism, we at JOI are fans of the Chabad approach to program location. And while some may take issue with certain aspects of Chabad’s methods, one simple truth cannot be denied: they take Judaism to where people are. And that is what outreach is all about. Recently, I received a mailing from the local Chabad in New Jersey (run by my colleague, Rabbi Levi Azimov), detailing their latest outreach innovation.
Among a number of educational offerings, they offer Bar Mitzvah tutoring—whether the Bar Mitzvah takes place through the Chabad or not—at a time that is convenient for the family. In other words, if your personal schedule conflicts with the class schedule, not to worry. They will find a way to make it work.
I wonder how long it will take for others in the community to do the same. If the Bar and Bat Mitzvah is a critical rite of passage for building Jewish identity, particularly for those in interfaith families, are we prepared to do what is necessary to make it truly accessible?