B'nei Mitzvah Preparation

Ethan and his parents on his Bar Mitzvah dayThe Gateways B’nei Mitzvah Academy prepares students with special needs for their bar/bat mitzvah with a combination of individual tutoring, classroom activities and a weekly prayer service. Our onsite reading specialist customizes lessons for each child and our experienced special education teacher plans lessons that teach specific B’nei Mitzvah and Synagogue skills.

The B'nei Mitzvah Academy is for students ages 11-14 years. Students can choose between meeting on Sundays from 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM or on Wednesday afternoons from 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM in Newton.

Enrollment Information

B'nei Mitzvah tutor and student To enroll in the B'nei Mitzvah Program,  please click here for forms and instructions.

For more information about the B'nei Mitzvah Program, please contact gjep@jgateways.org or 617-630-9010.

Articles and Testimonials

Opening the Gates of Bar/Bat Mitzvah to AllHands guiding hands over a tactile siddur
For many young Jews, a bar or bat mitzvah seemed out of reach, not for lack of desire, but because the expected achievements that marked the moment—like reading from the Torah, chanting blessings and other prayers and teaching the congregation—involved cognitive or social abilities that they struggled to sustain.


The Gateways B'nei Mitzvah Program: Making the Dream of a Jewish Coming-of-Age PossibleTeacher and students covering a Torah scroll
Over the years, I have had countless conversations with cautious parents, usually beginning with one tentative question: "Can my child have a bar/bat mitzvah?" At Gateways: Access to Jewish Education, the answer is “yes”.



Lauren's Bat MitzvahGirl and tutor working together
We gathered together in front of the open ark. Wrapped in her beautiful tallit, Lauren stood proud and tall, as she received her blessing. Lauren’s Bat Mitzvah was the culmination of many months commitment, hard work, and yes, also joy and laughter.


My Bar Mitzvah ExperienceBoy at bar mitzvah
One of the best days of my life! In the Gateways B’nei Mitzvah Program, I learned how to read Hebrew.



A Bat Mitzvah JourneyGirl holding Torah
“Amen”. Temana chanted beautifully, after reciting with confidence the blessings after the Torah. She lifted her eyes and scanned the congregation surrounding her and smiled.


Coming of Age: Julia's Bat Mitzvah Rite of PassageGirl holding a Torah
We’re happy to relate that the entire year of dedicated preparation for her bat mitzvah allowed Julia to learn the blessings on the Torah, as well as share in the communal prayers and singing which are the hallmarks and customs of the Jewish people.



Zoe's StoryZoe at Bnei Mitzvah Class
Zoe has autism; she speaks mostly in single words. Her bat mitzvah at Temple Beth Shalom last weekend was not just a celebration of her transition into adulthood, or even of the extraordinary effort she and her family and teachers invested in her preparation.  

Mira's StoryMira and Mom
What I know for certain is that when Mira touches a picture representing a blessing recorded on her iPad, and the familiar voice of her teacher brings it to life, her inner light illuminates her being from head to toe, her mouth alternating from smiles and happy squeals to concentrated mouth and tongue. Her body and soul fill with connection, joy, and confidence, as she rocks out in her wheelchair to the Shema and Mah Tovu prayers. She trembles with excitement and love of her Judaism. What more could we, as her parents, wish for, than a daughter who derives such pleasure from the Judaism that belongs to her and has only been made accessible by an organization of people that believes at its core that every Jewish child deserves a Jewish education?

Rachel's Story
On May 5, 2012, the Gateways community celebrated the Bat Mitzvah of a very special student. Rachel has brain damage from a stroke she suffered when she was two years old. She cannot speak or walk, and has uncontrolled seizures. Rachel has attended the Gateways Sunday Program for six years in preparation for her Bat Mitzvah, and though she might not have used words to say, she showed everyone that day how much her Jewish learning meant to her.


Helena's StoryHelena holds Torah
Helena began preparing for her Bat Mitzvah at age 11, when she enrolled in Gateways' B'nei Mitzvah Program, which supported her special learning needs. But her mother's unexpected passing and a series of circumstances pushed her Bat Mitzvah off repeatedly. Until finally on May 9, thanks to contributions and support from across the community, Helena, age 15, had her big day.



Ethan's StoryEthan and his parents
Ethan, who has autism, was only 5 when his parents first brought him through the door of Gateways' Sunday morning Jewish Education Program.  Hear from his family and learn how the team at Gateways prepared him to became a bar mitzvah.

Hannah's Story Girl holds the Torah at her Bat Mitzvah
Read about the transformative two-year journey that led Hannah, an honors student who has Asperger Syndrome (a developmental disorder on the autism spectrum), to shine on her Bat Mitzvah day.  Her mom says it best: "I saw Hannah grow up before my eyes. Looking at the young woman who, two years ago, refused to participate in class, standing in front of a crowd of close friends and family, reading her Torah portion and chanting her prayers, was a moment that was so full of pride and love, it is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life… Hannah learned what I already knew, that if she can do this, she can do anything else she sets her mind to."