Recognising that Bar Mitzvah, although significant, does not, in modern society, mark a child's becoming an adult, the ceremony of Kabbalat Torah at age 15 allows girls and boys to affirm their commitment to Judaism as a consequence of a personal decision. Kabbalat Torah is a firmly established religious observance in Liberal Judaism. It was introduced because the founders of Liberal Judaism felt that at the age of 13 students were too young to declare a commitment to the community and to end their formal education.
At the age of 15 it is felt that they are able to have a more mature and personal understanding of Jewish values. Kabbalat Torah encourages students to think about issues in their lives and in society as a whole, through the lens of Jewish tradition and Liberal Jewish values.
Apart from formal learning, most courses include active participation in the religious and cultural life of their own Community. They are also invited to participate in events with students from other Communities and on trips to places of Jewish interest in the UK and Europe. As a result, many of our students cement lasting social relationships with fellow students during these years. Kabbalat Torah runs from Bar and Bat Mitzvah, culminating in the ceremony created jointly by the students and the Rabbis.
During Kabbalat Torah, most students will have the option to prepare for and take GCSE Religious Studies - Judaism. Many post Kabbalat Torah students come back to the Cheder to become class helpers, and later a number choose to become teachers.
Adult Kabbalat Torah. In recent years, adult members in some Communities of Liberal Judaism who wish to learn more about their heritage and culture undertake a course of education at the end of which they, as their younger counterparts, will create and lead a Shabbat service.
This article is reproduced from Liberal Judaism