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 Home > Bar Mitzvah Guide

Everything You Need to Know
From Meaning to Planning A Bar & Bat Mitzvah

A note: Throughout this segment there are many instances where the terms “bar mitzvah” and “bat mitzvah” are interchangeable. In sections where gender doesn’t matter, the sentences will open with a reference to “bar or bat mitzvah.” Following this, bar and bat will be used interchangeably.

Bar and Bat Mitzvah
by Rivka C. Berman

Where have the years gone? Only yesterday, it seems, your little one pronounced his first work, bowed at the close of the school play and memorized 150 warriors in the latest video game. Only yesterday, it seems, your little one delighted at a red ribbon in her hair, danced her first ballet recital and wore her first very lady like shoes. And now, the twelfth/thirteenth birthday rolls around and your little darling is now a Jewish adult.

For an instant. Preteens ping pong between gracefully wearing the mantle of adulthood and whining childishly the next. One glance at a thirteen-year-old boy or a twelve-year-old girl and there’s no mistaking him or her for a tax-paying, carpool-driving, got-a-meeting adult. Yet this does not change the reality of the transition. In the eyes of Jewish law, a thirteen-year-old boy and a twelve-year-old girl have reached a rite of passage and are now obligated to fulfill mitzvot, the commandments. (Reform girls celebrate their Bat Mitzvah at age thirteen.)

Talmudic privileges of being counted as part of a minyan (a quorum: the ten adults traditionally necessary for some prayers and ceremonies), offering testimony, and making a vow were extended to a boy who passed this benchmark age. Mystically speaking, there are some rabbis who thought bar/bat mitzvah birthday was the age when a child was granted a yetzer tov, a conscience, that gives them a little boost in the “be good” department.

This turning point is cause for celebration. Mazal Tov!

For Literal Meaning of "Bar Mitzvah" Click Here!

More Information About Bar and Bar Mitzvah
The Mazor Guide to Jewish Celebrations is proud to present to you guidance from the perspectives of the three major streams of Judaism.

Orthodox Perspective: Bar Mitzvah Traditions and Information
Conservative Perspective: Bar Mitzvah Traditions and Information
Reform Perspective: Bar Mitzvah Traditions and Information

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