When the family arrives at the summit of Masada, we gather in the small synagogue in which the ark containing the Holy Torah is carefully tucked away.
We begin the Bat Mitzvah ceremony with the reading of the Shema and reciting of the chapters of psalms and selected prayers and sacred texts. This is followed by a speech delivered by the Bat Mitzvah, who is then in turn blessed by her father, who pronounces the traditional priestly blessing upon his daughter.
This first part of the celebration concludes with an award ceremony in which the honored Bat Mitzvah girl receives a special Certificate which includes a special blessing for her and her family. This is followed by a short presentation by the Rabbi, who describes the history and importance of Masada, past and present.
The family then moves to the nearby chamber which in centuries past served as living quarters for the ancient Jews who rebelled against Rome.
It is there we begin the second part of the Masada Experience, "Baking Challah Then and Now."
Part II – "Baking Challah Then and Now"
This program is conducted by a professional who explains the significance of the mitzvot of baking and separating challah in ancient times and today, with a live, "hands-on" demonstration of how to prepare kosher, fragrant delicious Sabbath challah.
The honored Bat Mitzvah girl participates together with the leader in carrying out the actual mitzvah of separating the challah dough and reciting the blessing "Hafrashat Challah" for the first time as a Jewish woman.
The newest member of Jewish womanhood, along with her mother and other female relatives and friends are then guided in braiding the challah dough in different shapes. Together they create the actual challah loaves for baking, which are allowed to rise (this is a quick process, given the naturally high heat at Masada) and then immediately placed in the oven to bake, there in the actual ancient living quarters on Masada.
The entire process, from the blessing through baking, runs approximately 60-90 minutes – and the results are lovely golden Sabbath loaves, "Product of Masada"!
The ceremony includes:
·apply baking workshop "Then and Now".
·Gathering in the ancient synagogue and a short prayer.