The Tallit Project

Building Connections: Talking about B-Mitzvah with Your Grandchild

"Listening lies at the very heart of relationship. It means that we are open to the other, that we respect them, that their perceptions and feelings matter to us. We give them permission to be honest, even if this means making ourselves vulnerable in so doing."
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

There are many ways to pass down customs and values from generation to generation (l’dor vador): we can tell family stories, hand down treasured family objects, cook together using nourishing family recipes, demonstrate our values through social action, or write an ethical will.

There’s another way: Having conversations with our grandchildren at liminal moments in their lives, especially as they become tweens and teens.

As you make your tallit, perhaps you are quietly watching your grandchild, or you are working together, engaged in the detail of the handwork. Maybe you are chatting about what’s happening at school or listening as they describe their feelings about the upcoming B-Mitzvah ceremony.

If you feel the time is right for a more focused conversation, we offer some prompts and conversation starters around making (or choosing) a tallit and becoming B-Mitzvah in general.

  • How are you feeling as you prepare for your B-Mitzvah? What makes you nervous? What makes you excited?
  • When I was your age, my Bat/Bar Mitzvah ________________.
  • Seeing you become a B-Mitzvah is moving for me because ________________.
  • Judaism (or a particular aspect, ritual, or observance, such as social justice, lighting Shabbat candles, celebrating Passover) is meaningful to me because ________________. What parts of being Jewish do you connect with?
  • Do you wish you were more actively engaged in Jewish activities (for example, youth group, synagogue events, celebrating holidays)? What interests you? 
  • How do you like to express your Judaism (going to Jewish camp, going to Hebrew school, reading about Jewish history, hanging out with other Jewish kids)?
  • What does being Jewish mean to you? It means ________________ to me.
  • Tell me about your mitzvah project. 
  • What does wearing a tallit mean to you? To me, wearing a tallit means ________________.
  • What Jewish symbols, images, or ideas do you connect with? I especially like ________________.