“That’s the way we’ve always done it.” How often do we use that sentence to rationalize a behavior or action that's not as optimal as it could be.
Our “traditional” activity might not…
But as we all know, it can be very challenging to think differently. However, a willingness to do so can lead to incredible and positive change. Grace Hopper, a pioneering American computer scientist, once said “The most dangerous phrase in our language is ‘we’ve always done it that way.’” Hopper’s innovating thinking led to the development of one of the foundational high-level computer programming languages. Working in a fast-moving technological world where repeating previously successful strategies often ended with less-than-optimal results, she understood that when we fail to explore new ideas and new ways of doing things, we end up tumbling down the same old holes.
In today’s challenging world, we’ve been doing a lot of thinking “outside the box.” (And sometimes, we’ve had to throw the “box” away entirely!) In spite of all the things we’d like to see disappear when the pandemic relaxes its hold on the world, there are many things we will want to keep. And for me, one of the items that tops this list would be our enhanced ability to think differently.
We’ve learned to better prioritize the people and experiences that bring us joy. Companies have reimagined how they work – allowing employees more flexibility – which has, in turn, led to a better life-work balance for many. We’ve used technology in new ways to connect with our family, friends, and colleagues – often bringing us closer together, even when circumstances kept us apart physically.
It’s this same commitment to new ways of thinking that sparked the start of The Bar Mitzvah Prep School. As I explained in this video, many parents have shared their experiences of Bar / Bat Mitzvah preparation with me – especially as they begin to think about how they will support their own child in this journey. Most parents seemed resigned that their child would have to muddle through the traditional approach – one that unfortunately, tends to focus more on rote memorization and an impressive “performance” of a Torah reading – vs. a meaningful experience that strengthens the connection of young people to G-d, family, community, and their faith.
Inspired by these stories, as well as the growing possibilities of virtual learning, I began to create lessons that use simple, real-world examples and language that explains the “why” behind Jewish teachings – and how they make a difference in our lives. And even though the lessons themselves are virtual, I designed them to be a springboard for personal connection – encouraging ongoing reflection with parents, family, and friends.
And I’ve been amazed by – and grateful for – the feedback from parents and their sons when they complete the course. It’s been truly wonderful to flip the narrative on Bar Mitzvah preparation – and the positive impact it can have on a child’s life journey and pride in their faith.
So whether you consider The Bar Mitzvah Prep school for your son – or explore other options for your family – I encourage you to embrace new possibilities for this special time in your son’s life.
And I also hope you’ll join me in celebrating the many ways YOU have already embraced new ways of thinking over the past two years – with creativity, agility, compassion, and a commitment for togetherness. Our collective growth as families, friends, and communities will continue to shine a hopeful light to guide our way – in the present and in the future.