Bar | Bat Mitzvah

Bar Mitzvah Academy

The Central Synagogue’s dynamic eight-to-ten week Bar Mitzvah Academy program typically runs in alignment with the first school term of the year. Rabbi Levi Wolff personally tailors and runs the course covering the fundamentals of Judaism and so much more, always ensuring the journey is educational, engaging and inspiring every step of the way.

Each session is collaborative and creatively delivered with classes always conducted with a parent in attendance – often a father-son duo; if that isn’t possible one week, enthusiastic grandfathers and uncles proudly step in. Of course, mums are always welcome too and there is a specific session designated for mothers and sons as well. This certainly is a spiritual growth experience for the parent (or primary carer) and child alike.

Many revelations are made along this ritual route, with thoughtful twelve-year-olds asking insightful questions and receiving clear answers that help make sense of why this transformation is a timeless gift.

Each class commences with fathers putting on tefillin with their sons (if the boys are within a few months of their Bar Mitzvah), otherwise boys daven an abridged version. For convenience, The Central Synagogue has sets of tefillin available in-house for any male influence to borrow each Sunday morning.

Classes cover many and varied topics, all in a relaxed yet relevant way. The navigation commences exploring why Bar Mitzvah is special and the significance of having an Aliya to read a Torah portion. Attention then shifts to our Holy Land and explains our heartfelt, eternal connection with Israel.

Jewish identity is analysed as is the development of a personal relationship with G-d via the power of prayer. Ethical dilemmas are presented that have been debated over countless generations, with knowledge building upon each exploration.

In a practical sense, Rabbi Levi talks about all-things-kosher, and hands-on training is offered – from the mitzvah of putting on Tefillin to appreciating the sacred text within a mezuzah and how to correctly affix one!

Guest speakers are welcomed and communal experts present on different unique subjects, broadening the boys’ horizons even further with many rich traditions covered. Undoubtedly, friendships are formed by the boys and are often rekindled and renewed for their mums and dads.

The opportunity to have a direct ‘kesher’ or connection with Rabbi Levi is foundational, as many Bar Mitzvah Academy graduates go on in later years to proudly take their place within our community in a plethora of positions.

A generous breakfast is always provided and once all lessons are completed about becoming a Jewish man, families are warmly invited to a special graduation event, acknowledging and appreciating the journey of each Barmy Club member!

Please note: The Torah leining (public reading of a portion from the Torah scroll) is taught separately by a Bar Mitzvah teacher, see recommendations for experienced teachers within our Life Cycle category.

To enrol for Bar Mitzvah Academy 2023 or for further enquiries, please contact:

Bat Mitzvah Academy

Early each year, there is a precious 8-week window of time allocated to The Central Synagogue’s Bat Mitzvah Academy over consecutive Sunday mornings. With an emphasis on learning that is both holistic and holy, this unique program is designed and refined. It is then offered under the nurturing and expert guidance of Rebbetzin Chanie Wolff and her committed crew of dedicated and devoted Jewish education specialists including renowned educator Mrs Aviva Itkin.

Together, the empowered and experienced team delivers a creative and comprehensive program over two months that is simultaneously enlightening and engaging. There are also opportunities for fathers and mothers (or primary carers) to participate in selected lessons that span the wide arc of Jewish life, such as what it means to do mitzvot in modern times – from generation to generation.

Classes run for one-and-a-half hours and frequently will be stationed at the shule’s main campus. When a topic delves beyond that boundary, for example, with a Kabbalistic ‘deep-dive’ into the fluid mystical source of life – the girls attend a Mikvah.

When they channel their energies into appreciating the Shabbat candles and all they metaphorically represent – radiating light and representing our own ‘palace in time’ or Shabbat oasis – the girls visit a renowned art studio so they can explore their imaginative and soulful side in a tactile fashion.

When it comes to the kosher landscape of Sydney, the girls are taken on an informative and enjoyable excursion into the wonderful world of Kashrut, getting a behind-the-scenes look into what is actually involved in making products kosher in this day and age.

Mothers and daughters unite to acquire skills in the art of challah baking and learn about the mitzvah of ‘taking challah,’ blessing a small piece of dough which is simultaneously traditional and timeless.

The festival of Shavuot – celebrating the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai – falls in the middle of the Bat Mitzvah Academy schedule and it is the perfect point for all Bat Mitzvah Academy families and teachers to come together in shule to hear the reading of the Ten Commandments. In keeping with the festive theme, the girls then enjoy a generous ice cream party!

The collective capacity of each cohort is explored via mitzvot. In this spirit, the girls visit a chessed initiative such as Tikva Centre, to utilise their time to collate packages for the needy and homeless, impacting so many positively and respectfully beyond their immediate daily realm.

With each class, the answer to the question ‘What Bat Mitzvah means to me?’ becomes more apparent in myriad ways. From the introspective connection with our soul and Jewish name to appreciating and absorbing the wider world … and the fundamental fusing of the two spheres – internal/external – personal/collective.

On this Central Bat Mitzvah journey, each girl grows exponentially in personal development and Jewish knowledge. It is a key coming-of-age experience that is both inspirational and educational on the all-important navigation to become confident and accomplished Jewish women.

Longstanding friendships are formed between the girls and parents alike – it is an opportunity to vibrantly connect vital aspects of our heritage and our story as strong Jewish women. The true meaning of Bat Mitzvah is revealed in the most relaxed yet relevant way.

The course is jam-packed with Judaism-delivered-joyfully and the girls respond in kind. It is a pleasure to curate, and finally celebrate at the heart-warming and well-deserved graduation dinner.

To enrol for Bat Mitzvah Academy  or for further enquiries, please contact: