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B-Mitzvah: A More Inclusive Term for a Jewish Rite of Passage

While the topic of gender and gender identity might be relatively new to many, questions and thoughts around these concepts have been circulating among the LGBTQ+ community for centuries. But in the last few decades, conversations surrounding the vastness of gender identity and inclusivity have become a more common discussion, both at BJ and in the world at large. 

As members of a community whose core values are rooted in inclusivity, community, and growth, we are constantly looking to grow in ways that reflect what we hold true: that everyone should have a home at BJ that represents their truest self. With this in mind, we have made the decision to shift some language within our community regarding B’nai Mitzvah.

Though Hebrew is a gendered language, we have chosen to implement the term “B-Mitzvah” as a gender-neutral way to refer to the ritual of Bar and Bat Mitzvah (becoming an adult according to a Jewish lens), following in the footsteps of other progressive synagogues that also use the term. In an effort to live our Torah and become an inclusive, welcoming community, we are going to shift the way we speak about one of our most important life-cycle moments. This change comes after years of work to continue to evolve our rituals at BJ to be an LGBTQ+ inclusive community. 

Looking to our partners at Keshet for guidance, we recognize that gender is fluid and it can be especially limiting for youth to only have the rigid options of Bar or Bat Mitzvah available. We hope that instead the more gender-neutral “B” as a descriptor for this ritual will provide more flexibility to our B-Mitzvah students.

So what does this mean going forward? If your family is going to celebrate this simha and your child feels most comfortable using “Bar” or “Bat” Mitzvah to describe the ceremony, mazal tov! We will honor what feels best for you in this exciting time. If your child would prefer B-Mitzvah to describe the ceremony, then that’s great too. You will additionally see “B-Mitzvah” on our website when referring to the ritual in general usage, instead of the previously used “B’nai Mitzvah.”

We hope you will join us as we make this change so that all will continue to feel a part of BJ in our kehillah kedoshah, our holy community.