In Pirkei Avot, Judah Ben Tema gets credit for the first mention of Bar Mitzvah in Talmudic times. In a list of responsibilities based on a person’s age (some of which we might argue today), he expressed that at thirteen, one is subject to the mitzvot, the commandments. In other words, the commentary explains, anyone thirteen or older who doesn’t follow the commandments is responsible for the divine consequences.
That’s not exactly how we approach Bar and Bat Mitzvah at Temple Emanuel Sinai. In addition to teaching our students about the values and stories of Judaism, how to lead services and read from Torah, we emphasize the importance of living out our values. Our students show how they have integrated those values into their lives through a Mitzvah project, a volunteer project that helps people or organizations in our community.
Mitzvah projects in a pandemic are incredibly complicated. Levi Wilk and his family worked very hard to find a way to make a difference especially during this time. And Levi is asking for our help.