Greek Island Bar Bat Mitzvah
Special Program August 2018 on the Greek island of Rhodes
The Aegean Sea couldn’t be more blue, the beaches couldn’t be more inviting and the history couldn’t be more dramatic. It’s an island paradise steeped in Greek tradition and Jewish heritage – it’s the island of Rhodes where the oldest synagogue in Greece welcomes your teen and your family for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah experience like none other.
Thanks to a cooperative relationship between the Jewish Community of Rhodes and Rabbi Barbara Aiello of Italy, the Kahal Shalom Synagogue will open its doors to a unique Bar and Bat Mitzvah program, which includes the Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony held in the exquisitely restored, oldest synagogue in Greece.
Your Greek Jewish experience begins with a walking tour of the Jewish Quarter where synagogue member and community historian, Isaac Habib explains Jewish life in Rhodes with humor and flair. Thousands of years of Jewish history come alive as you learn of the Greek Jews’ connection to the Maccabees, the arrival of the Italian Romaniote Jews, and the influx of the Jews of Spain and how they settled in Rhodes to escape the persecution of the Inquisition.
In the Jewish museum adjacent to the synagogue, Jewish tradition in Rhodes comes to life as you view ancient ritual items such as an unusual wood and leather Megilla of Esther, delicate silver filigree rimonim (Torah crowns) and much more.
The highlight of your Jewish Greek experience is the Bar or Bat Mitzvah ceremony itself, held in the Kahal Shalom Synagogue. Built in 1577, the synagogue is located in the Jewish Quarter (“La Judiera”) of the old walled city. Configured in the Sephardic style, the synagogue has been restored to its original splendor and is truly a Jewish treasure.
The modern pluralistic service is led by Rabbi Barbara Aiello and assisted by your son or daughter, who can dedicate their service to the memory of a Greek child murdered in the Holocaust. As your child reads directly from the Torah scroll, he or she not only celebrates this important rite of passage but your child has the unique opportunity to infuse new life into one of the world’s most historically significant Jewish communities.
You can create this once in a lifetime experience for your teen and for your whole family. Working with Rabbi Barbara, whose 14 years coordinating distance learning B’nei Mitzvah makes the process uncomplicated and stress-free.
Here’s how to get started:
Select and secure your Bar Bat Mitzvah date: Program dates are August 14 – August 26, 2018. You child may share the date with siblings, family members or friends in a group of up to four students. Ask about special discounts for group ceremonies. Our travel professional, Ellen Paderson can help you plan visit to Rhodes and your family’s Greek island vacation. Click here to contact Ellen from Smiles and Miles Travel, Bar Mitzvah vacations.
Select a local tutor who will work with Rabbi Barbara. (We can help you find your child’s private teacher).
With help and guidance of the tutor and Rabbi Barbara, you teen selects from 3 to 12 Torah verses he/ she wants to read. We find that when the student decides on the verses to be read, their interest level soars!
Rabbi Barbara communicates directly with your tutor so that Hebrew reading is adapted to the students’ needs and abilities. The amount of Hebrew to be read and the way it is read is based upon the individual needs of the student. Every student, regardless of learning style, difference or disability, can succeed and no previous Hebrew training is required.
Students are encouraged to do a hands-on mitzvah project where the student shares in a “Tikkun Olam” experience to help make the world a better place. Also students are encouraged to select the name of a Greek child who, as a Holocaust victim, did not become Bar or Bat Mitzvah. The D’var Torah speech can include reference to this child.
Rabbi Barbara emphasizes that Interfaith and non-traditional families are warmly welcomed. Parents and grandparents of all faiths are welcome to participate on the bimah. For families who are just now introducing Jewish tradition to their children, our Bar and Bat Mitzvah program brings Judaism to life in a loving and meaningful way.