Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Serious Man: Bar Mitzvah

This great film has a great scene about the topic, which is not very familiar to most Brazilians. I like the movie and the students enjoyed the class and learning about this Jewish tradition.

A. Work in pairs and try to figure out the correct alternative for the questions about Bar Mitzvah:

1. What does Bar Mitzvah mean?

a. The phrase translates as "son (daughter) of commandment" -- i.e. the young person becomes responsible to observe the commandments (mitzvot) of the Torah.

b. The phrase translates as "moment of truth" -- i.e. the moment the youth has to face the music of reality.

c. The phrase translates as "emancipation" -- i.e the youth will have to deal with the society demands.

2. The term "Bar Mitzvah" refers to:

a. a status, in the same way that being a student or parent is a status.

b. the age - depending if it is a boy or a girl.

c. the ceremony.

3. When does one become Bar Mitzvah?

a. A Jewish boy 11, a Jewish girl 10.

b.A Jewish boy 13, a girl at age 12.

c. Both boys and girls when they turn 13.

4. Which statement is NOT true?

a. The Bar Mitzvah celebrates -- reaching the stage of obligation.

b. The Torah -- a scroll containing the Five Books of Moses -- is read publicly.

c. The boy or the girl is allowed to have sweethearts after the celebration.

5. One popular feature of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration is a reception. Which statement is NOT true?

a. This should ideally be held on the day which the young man/woman becomes 13/12 years old.

b. If necessary, the celebration may be postponed somewhat.

c. There are not different practices regarding what is done at a Bar Mitzvah celebration. It is proper for the young person to relate some Torah thoughts at the celebration -- i.e. the famous Bar Mitzvah speech. The speech usually contains ideas from the weekly Torah portion, and emphasizes the young person's commitment to Jewish values.

6. Which one is NOT true?

a. It's important that the festivities should become very ostentatious, because the spiritual significance can be secondary.

b. The new adult should appreciate that this is a celebration of maturity and responsibility, a message which will carry through for the rest of their life.

c. Since this event celebrates the young person becoming obligated in the commandments, the most appropriate gift is, naturally, one that gives a deeper understanding of the Jewish heritage.

7. Which one is NOT true?

a. One of the favorite gift ideas is a tzedakah (charity) box. Every Jew should have a tzedakah box in his home, so he can drop in change on a regular basis. The money can then be given to support a Jewish school or institution -- in your home town or in Israel (every Jews' "home town").

b. One perfect gift is a modern device, such as an i-pod, so he can keep up with the new technology around them.

c. Bar Mitzvah is as important to a boy as it is to a girl.

Answer key: 1. a, 2. a, 3. b, 4. c, 5. c, 6. a, 7. b

B. Watch the segment now and answer the questions that follow:

1. Describe the scene. Use some of the words you learned in exercise A.

2. How would you describe the boy's feeling during the ceremony?

3. What about his family's and friends' feelings?

4. Did anything go wrong? Explain it.

5. What's your opinion about this kind of event? Is it important to follow tradition, even if you disagree with them, just to please the family?

6. Do you have anything similar in your culture or religion? Describe it.

7. What do you think will happen next?


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