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Bar mitzvah ( he, בַּר מִצְוָה) is a
Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO; ) is an international standard are technical standards developed by international organizations (intergovernmental organizations), suc ...

Jewish
coming of age Coming of age is a young person Youth is the time of life Life is a characteristic that distinguishes physical entities that have biological processes, such as Cell signaling, signaling and self-sustaining processes, from those th ...
ritual for boys, whereas bat mitzvah ( he, בַּת מִצְוָה;
Ashkenazi pronunciationAshkenazi Hebrew ( he, הגייה אשכנזית, Hagiyya Ashkenazit, yi, אַשכּנזישע הבֿרה, Ashkenazishe Havara) is the pronunciation system for Biblical The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, ''tà biblía'', "the b ...
: ''bas mitzveh'') is the equivalent for girls. The plural is ''b'nai mitzvah'' for boys or mixed sex groups, and ''b'not mitzvah'' (Ashkenazi pronunciation: ''b'nos mitzvah'') for girls. According to
Jewish law ''Halakha'' (; he, הֲלָכָה, ), also transliterated Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script to another that involves swapping letters (thus '' trans-'' + '' liter-'') in predictable ways, such as Greek → ...
, when a
Jew Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO; ) is an international standard are technical standards developed by international organizations (intergovernmental organizations), suc ...

Jew
ish boy is 13 years old, he becomes accountable for his actions and becomes a bar mitzvah. A girl becomes a bat mitzvah at the age of 12 according to
Orthodox Orthodox, Orthodoxy, or Orthodoxism may refer to: Religion * Orthodoxy, adherence to accepted norms, more specifically adherence to creeds, especially within Christianity and Judaism, but also less commonly in non-Abrahamic religions like Neo-paga ...
and
Conservative Jews Conservative Judaism (known as Masorti Judaism outside North America) is a Jewish religious movements, Jewish religious movement that regards the authority of Jewish law and tradition as emanating primarily from the assent of the people and th ...
, and at the age of 13 for
Reform Jews Reform Judaism (also known as Liberal Judaism or Progressive Judaism) is a major Jewish denomination that emphasizes the evolving nature of the faith, the superiority of its ethical aspects to the ceremonial ones, and belief in a continuous rev ...
. Before the child reaches bar mitzvah age, parents hold the responsibility for their child's actions. After this age, the boys and girls bear their own responsibility for Jewish ritual
law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its boundari ...
,
tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of conscious ...

tradition
, and
ethics Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong action (philosophy), behavior".''Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy'"Ethics"/ref> The field of ethics, al ...

ethics
, and are able to participate in all areas of Jewish community life. Traditionally, the father of the bar mitzvah gives thanks to God that he is no longer punished for the child's sins.
Genesis Rabbah Genesis Rabbah (Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and thei ...
63:10 (commenting upon
Genesis Genesis may refer to: Literature and comics * Genesis (DC Comics), a 1997 DC Comics crossover * Genesis (Marvel Comics), a Marvel Comics villain * Genesis, a fictional character from the ''Preacher (comics), Preacher'' comic-book series * ''Genes ...

Genesis
25:27) בראשית רבה סג י (in Hebrew)
In addition to being considered accountable for their actions from a religious perspective, a 13-year-old male may be counted towards an Orthodox prayer quorum and may lead prayer and other religious services in the family and the community. Bar mitzvah is mentioned in the
Mishnah The Mishnah or the Mishna (; he, מִשְׁנָה, "study by repetition", from the verb ''shanah'' , or "to study and review", also "secondary") is the first major written collection of the Jewish oral traditions which is known as the Oral Torah. ...
and in the
Talmud The Talmud (; he, תַּלְמוּד ''Tálmūḏ'') is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (''halakha'') and Jewish theology. Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the ...

Talmud
. In some classic sources, the age of 13 appears for instance as the age from which males must fast on
Yom Kippur Yom Kippur (; he, יוֹם כִּיפּוּר, Yōm Kīpūr, , ; plural , ) is the holiest day of the year in Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semi ...
, while females fast from the age of 12. The age of B'nai mitzvah roughly coincides with physical
puberty Puberty is the process of physical changes through which a child Biologically, a child (plural children) is a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natur ...

puberty
. The bar or bat mitzvah ceremony is usually held on the first
Shabbat Shabbat (, , or ; he, שַׁבָּת, Šabat, , ) or the Sabbath, also called Shabbos ( yi, שבת) by , is 's day of rest on the seventh day of the —i.e., . On this day, religious remember the biblical stories describing the and the redem ...

Shabbat
after a boy's thirteenth and a girl's twelfth birthday (or thirteenth in Reform congregations).


Etymology

''Bar'' () is a
Jewish Babylonian Aramaic Jewish Babylonian Aramaic was the form of Middle Aramaic Aramaic ( Classical Syriac: ''Arāmāyā''; Old Aramaic: ; Imperial Aramaic: ; square script ) is a language that originated among the Arameans The Arameans (Old Aramaic langua ...
word meaning "son" (, ''ben'' in Hebrew), while ''bat'' () means "daughter" in Hebrew, and ''mitzvah'' () means "commandment" or "law" (plural: ''mitzvot''). Thus ''bar mitzvah'' and ''bat mitzvah'' literally translate to "son of commandment" and "daughter of commandment". However, in rabbinical usage, the word ''bar'' means "under the category of" or "subject to". ''Bar mitzvah'' therefore translates to " newho is subject to the law". Although the term is commonly used to refer to the ritual itself, the phrase originally refers to the person.


History

The modern method of celebrating becoming a bar mitzvah did not exist in the time of the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah, the Nevi'im, and the Ketuvim. These texts are almost exclusively in Biblical Hebrew, with a f ...
,
Mishnah The Mishnah or the Mishna (; he, מִשְׁנָה, "study by repetition", from the verb ''shanah'' , or "to study and review", also "secondary") is the first major written collection of the Jewish oral traditions which is known as the Oral Torah. ...
or
Talmud The Talmud (; he, תַּלְמוּד ''Tálmūḏ'') is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (''halakha'') and Jewish theology. Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the ...

Talmud
. Early rabbinic sources specify 13 as the age at which a boy becomes a legal adult; however, the celebration of this occasion is not mentioned until the Middle Ages.


Age thirteen

The Bible does not explicitly specify the age thirteen. Passages in the books of
Exodus Exodus or the Exodus may refer to: Religion *Book of Exodus, second book of the Hebrew Torah and the Christian Bible *The Exodus, the biblical story of the migration of the ancient Israelites from Egypt into Canaan Historical events * Jujuy E ...
and
Numbers A number is a mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract concept arising in mathematics. In the usual language of mathematics, an ''object'' is anything that has been (or could be) formally defined, and with which one may do deduc ...
note the age of majority for army service as twenty.
Machzor Vitri Simhah ben Samuel of Vitry ( he, שמחה בן שמואל מויטרי; died 1105) was a French Talmudist The Talmud (; he, תַּלְמוּד ''Tálmūḏ'') is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious la ...
notes that
Genesis Genesis may refer to: Literature and comics * Genesis (DC Comics), a 1997 DC Comics crossover * Genesis (Marvel Comics), a Marvel Comics villain * Genesis, a fictional character from the ''Preacher (comics), Preacher'' comic-book series * ''Genes ...

Genesis
34:25 refers to
Levi Levi (; ) was, according to the Book of Genesis The Book of Genesis,, "''Bərēšīṯ''", "In hebeginning" the first book of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection o ...

Levi
as a "man", when a calculation from other verses suggests that Levi was aged thirteen at the time. The age of thirteen is mentioned in the
Mishnah The Mishnah or the Mishna (; he, מִשְׁנָה, "study by repetition", from the verb ''shanah'' , or "to study and review", also "secondary") is the first major written collection of the Jewish oral traditions which is known as the Oral Torah. ...
as the time one is obligated to observe the Torah's commandments: "At five years old one should study the
Scriptures Religious texts are texts related to a religious tradition. They differ from literary texts by being a compilation or discussion of beliefs, mythologies, ritual practices, commandments or laws, ethical conduct, spiritual aspirations, and for c ...
, at ten years for the Mishnah, at 13 for the commandments..."Olitsky, Kerry M. ''An Encyclopedia of American Synagogue Ritual'', Greenwood Press, 2000.
p. 7.
/ref> Elsewhere,Niddah 5:6 the Mishnah lists the ages (13 for boys and 12 for girls) at which a vow is considered automatically valid; the
Talmud The Talmud (; he, תַּלְמוּד ''Tálmūḏ'') is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (''halakha'') and Jewish theology. Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the ...

Talmud
explains this as a result of the 13-year-old being a "man", as required in . (For one year before this age, the vows are conditionally valid, depending on whether the boy or girl has signs of physical maturity.) Other sources also list thirteen as the age of majority with respect to following the commandments of the Torah, including: * "Why is the evil inclination personified as the great king (
Ecclesiastes Ecclesiastes (; Hebrew language, Hebrew: , , grc, Ἐκκλησιαστής, ) written , is one of the Ketuvim ("Writings") of the Hebrew Bible and one of the wisdom literature, "Wisdom" books of the Christianity, Christian Old Testament. Th ...

Ecclesiastes
9:14)? Because it is thirteen years older than the good inclination." That is to say, one's good inclination begins to act upon reaching the age of majority. * According to Pirke Rabbi Eli'ezer 26,
Abraham Abraham, ''Ibrāhīm''; el, Ἀβραάμ, translit=Abraám, name=, group= (originally Abram) is the common patriarch of the Abrahamic religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In Judaism, he is the founding father of the covenan ...

Abraham
rejected the totol idolatry of his father and became a worshiper of God when he was thirteen years old.


The term "bar mitzvah"

The term "bar mitzvah" appears first in the
Talmud The Talmud (; he, תַּלְמוּד ''Tálmūḏ'') is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (''halakha'') and Jewish theology. Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the ...

Talmud
, meaning "one who is subject to the law", though it does not refer to age. The term "bar mitzvah", in reference to age, cannot be clearly traced earlier than the 14th century, the older
rabbinical Rabbinic Judaism ( he, יהדות רבנית, Yahadut Rabanit), also called Rabbinism, Rabbinicism, or Judaism espoused by the Rabbanites, has been the mainstream form of Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monothei ...
term being "gadol" (adult) or "bar 'onshin" (one legally responsible for own misdoings).


History

Many sources indicate that the ceremonial observation of a bar mitzvah developed in the Middle Ages. Some late
midrash ''Midrash'' (;"midrash"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''.
he, מִדְרָשׁ; ...

midrash
ic sources, and some medieval sources refer to a synagogue ceremony performed upon the boy's reaching age thirteen: * Simon Tzemach Duran quotes a
Midrash ''Midrash'' (;"midrash"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''.
he, מִדְרָשׁ; ...

Midrash
interpreting the Hebrew word ''zo'' ("this") in
Isaiah Isaiah ( or ; he, , ''Yəšaʿyāhū'', "God God, in monotheistic thought, is conceived of as the supreme being, creator, and principal object of faith Faith, derived from Latin ''fides'' and Old French ''feid'', is confidence or trus ...
43:21 ("These people have I formed for myself, they shall speak my praise") as referring by its
numerical value A number is a mathematical object used to count, measure, and label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and so forth. Numbers can be represented in language with number words. More universally, individual numbers can b ...
to those that have reached the age of 13. This seems to imply that, at the time of the composition of the Midrash the bar mitzvah publicly pronounced a blessing on the occasion of his entrance upon maturity. * The Midrash Hashkem: "The heathen when he begets a son consecrates him to idolatrous practices; the
Israelite The Israelites (; he, בני ישראל ''Bnei Yisra'el'') were a confederation of Iron Age ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-speaking tribes of the ancient Near East, who inhabited a part of Canaan during the history of ancient Israe ...
has his son circumcised and the rite of '
pidyon haben The ''pidyon haben'' ( he, פדיון הבן) or redemption of the first-born (if male and not by caesarean Caesarean section, also known as C-section, or caesarean delivery, is the surgical procedure Surgery ''cheirourgikē'' (composed ...
' performed; and as soon as he becomes of age he brings him into the
synagogue A synagogue, ', 'house of assembly', or ', "house of prayer"; Yiddish Yiddish (, or , ''yidish'' or ''idish'', , ; , ''Yidish-Taytsh'', ) is a West Germanic The West Germanic languages constitute the largest of the three branches ...

synagogue
and
school A school is an educational institution An educational institution is a place where people of different ages gain an education, including preschools, childcare, primary-elementary schools, secondary-high schools, and universities. They p ...
in order that he may praise the name of God, reciting the
Barechu Barechu ( he, ברכו, also Borchu) is a part of the Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and ki ...
." * Masseket Soferim (18:5) makes matters even more explicit: "In
Jerusalem Jerusalem (; he, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם ; ar, القُدس, ', , (combining the Biblical and common usage Arabic names); grc, Ἱερουσαλήμ/Ἰεροσόλυμα, Hierousalḗm/Hierosóluma; hy, Երուսաղեմ, Erusał ...

Jerusalem
they are accustomed to initiate their children to fast on the
Day of Atonement Yom Kippur (; he, יוֹם כִּיפּוּר, , or ), also known as the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year in Judaism Judaism ( he, יהדות, ''Yahadut''; originally from Hebrew , ''Yehudah'', "Kingdom of Judah, Judah", ...
, a year or two before their maturity; and then, when the age has arrived, to bring the Bar Mitzvah before the
priest A priest is a religious leader Clergy are formal leaders within established religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social w ...
or elder for blessing, encouragement, and prayer, that he may be granted a portion in the
Law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its bounda ...
and in the doing of good works. Whosoever is of superiority in the town is expected to pray for him as he bows down to him to receive his blessing." *
Genesis Rabbah Genesis Rabbah (Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and thei ...
: "Up to thirteen years
Esau Esau ''Ēsaû''; la, Hesau, Esau; ar, عِيسَوْ ''‘Īsaw''; meaning "hairy"Easton, M. ''Illustrated Bible Dictionary'', (, , 2006, p. 236 or "rough".Mandel, D. ''The Ultimate Who's Who in the Bible'', (.), 2007, p. 175 is the elder son o ...

Esau
and
Jacob Jacob (; ; ar, يَعْقُوب, Yaʿqūb; gr, Ἰακώβ, Iakṓb), later given the name Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State ...

Jacob
went together to the primary school and back home; after the thirteen years were over, the one went to the
beit midrash A ''beth midrash'' ( he, בית מדרש, or ''beis medrash'', ''beit midrash'', pl. ''batei midrash'' "House of Learning") is a Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligi ...
to study
Law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its bounda ...
, the other to the house of idols. Regarding this, Rabbi Eleazar remarks, 'Until the thirteenth year it is the father's duty to train his boy; after this, he must say: "Blessed be He who has taken from me the responsibility he punishmentfor this boy!"'" Later on, are references to a festive celebration on this occasion: * "It is a
mitzvah In its primary meaning, the Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Ju ...
for a person to make a meal on the day his son becomes Bar Mitzvah as on the day he enters the
wedding canopy A ''chuppah'' ( he, חוּפָּה, pl. חוּפּוֹת, ''chuppot'', literally, "canopy" or "covering"), also huppah, chipe, chupah, or chuppa, is a canopy under which a Judaism, Jewish couple stand during their Jewish wedding, wedding ceremon ...
."


Significance

Reaching the age of bar or bat mitzvah signifies becoming a full-fledged member of the Jewish community with the responsibilities that come with it. These include
moral A moral (from Latin ''morālis'') is a message that is conveyed or a lesson to be learned from a narrative, story or wikt:event, event. The moral may be left to the hearer, reader, or viewer to determine for themselves, or may be explicitly enca ...
responsibility for one's own actions; eligibility to be called to read from the
Torah The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Heb ...

Torah
and lead or participate in a
minyan In Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. It has its roots as an org ...
; the right to possess personal property and to legally marry on one's own according to Jewish law; the duty to follow the 613 laws of the Torah and keep the
halakha ''Halakha'' (; he, הֲלָכָה, ), also transliterated Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script Script may refer to: Writing systems * Script, a distinctive writing system, based on a repertoire of specific ...
; and the capacity to testify as a witness in a
beth din A beth din ( he, בית דין ''Bet Din'', "house of judgment" , Ashkenazic: ''beis din'') is a rabbinical Rabbinic Judaism ( he, יהדות רבנית, Yahadut Rabanit), also called Rabbinism, Rabbinicism, or Judaism espoused by the Rabbanite ...
(rabbinical court) case. Many congregations require pre-bar mitzvah children to attend a minimum number of Shabbat prayer services at the synagogue, study at a
Hebrew school Hebrew school can be either an educational regimen separate from secular education similar to the Christian Sunday school#REDIRECT Sunday school A Sunday school is an educational institution, usually (but not always) Christianity, Christian in ch ...
, take on a charity or community service project and maintain membership in good standing with the synagogue. In addition to study and preparation offered through the synagogue and Hebrew schools, bar mitzvah tutors may be hired to prepare the child through the study of Hebrew, Torah cantillation and basic Jewish concepts. According to Rabbi Mark Washofsky, "The Reform Movement in North America has struggled over the bar/bat mitzvah. At one time, this ceremony was on the verge of extinction in Reform congregations. Most of them preferred to replace bar/bat mitzvah with confirmation, which they considered a more enlightened and appropriate ceremony for modern Jews. Yet the enduring popularity of bar/bat mitzvah prevailed and today, in our communities, bar/bat mitzvah is 'virtually universally observed' by Reform Jews." In 2012, concern about the high post-bar/bat mitzvah drop out rate led the
Union for Reform Judaism The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), known as the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) until 2003, founded in 1873 by Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise Isaac Mayer Wise (29 March 1819, Steingrub (now Plesná (Cheb District), Lomnička), Moravia), ...
to launch the B'nai Mitzvah Revolution, an effort to shift Reform congregations away from "the long-held assumption that religious school is about preparing kids for their bar/bat mitzvah" and focus instead on teaching them how to become committed and involved members of the Jewish community.''Reform Judaism'' magazine
Winter 2012.


Aliyah to the Torah

The widespread practice is that on a Sabbath shortly after he has attained the age of thirteen, a boy is called up to read from the weekly portion of the Law (Torah), either as one of the first seven men or as the last, in which case he will read the closing verses and the
Haftarah The ''haftarah'' or (in Ashkenazi Jews, Ashkenazic pronunciation) ''haftorah'' (alt. ''haphtara'', he, הפטרה) "parting," "taking leave", (plural form: ''haftarot'' or ''haftoros'') is a series of selections from the books of ''Nevi'im'' ...
(selections from the books of the Prophets); and if he is unable to read, to recite at least the benediction before and after the reading. He may also give a
d'var Torah Torah study is the study of the Torah, Tanakh, Hebrew Bible, Talmud, responsa, rabbinic literature and similar works, all of which are Judaism's religious texts. According to Rabbinic Judaism, the study is ideally done for the purpose of the ' ...
(a discussion of some
Torah The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Heb ...

Torah
issue, such as a discussion of that week's Torah portion) and/or lead part or all of the prayer services. In Orthodox circles, the occasion is sometimes celebrated during a weekday service that includes reading from the Torah, such as a Monday or Thursday morning service. Some communities or families may delay the celebration for reasons such as availability of a Shabbat during which no other celebration has been scheduled, or due to the desire to permit the family to travel to the event. However, this does not delay the onset of rights and responsibilities of being a Jewish adult which comes about strictly by virtue of age.


Tefillin

The obligation to lay
tefillin Tefillin (; Israeli Hebrew Israeli may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the State of Israel * Israelis, citizens or permanent residents of the State of Israel * Modern Hebrew, a language * ''Israeli'' (newspaper), published from ...

tefillin
begins when a boy reaches bar mitzvah age. The common custom is for the bar mitzvah boy to begin putting on tefillin one to three months before his bar mitzvah. This way, by the time he is obligated in the commandment, he will already know how to fulfill it properly.


Parties

As the first mention of a party associated with a synagogue bar mitzvah was in the 13th century, hosting some sort of party is traditional and frequently considered necessary. Bar mitzvah festivities typically include a joyous
seudat mitzvah A ''seudat mitzvah'' ( he, סעודת מצוה, "commanded meal"), in Judaism Judaism ( he, יהדות, ''Yahadut''; originally from Hebrew , ''Yehudah'', "Kingdom of Judah, Judah", via Ancient Greek, Greek ''Ioudaismos''; the term itself ...
, a celebratory meal with family, friends, and members of the community, the Bar Mitzvah boy delivering on this occasion a learned discourse or oration at the table before the invited guests, who offer him presents, while the rabbi or teacher gives him his blessing, accompanying it at times with an address. Some Jews celebrate in other ways such as taking the bar or bat mitzvah on a special trip or organizing some special event in the celebrant's honour. In many communities, the celebrant is given a certificate. According to the Orthodox view, the bar mitzvah boy is so happy to be commanded to do
mitzvot In its primary meaning, the Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as one of the spoken languages of th ...
and earn a reward in the next world for his efforts, that he throws a party and has a festive meal. In some times and places, local Jewish leaders have officially limited the size and elaborateness of mitzvahs. For example, only ten men were permitted to attend the party in 1730 in Berlin, and the music was banned at these parties in 1767 in Prague. These rules were usually meant to avoid offending non-Jewish neighbours, and to maintain the rule that it be a smaller celebration than a wedding. Bar and bat mitzvah parties among wealthy Jewish families in North America are often lavish affairs held at hotels and country clubs with hundreds of guests. The trend has been mocked, most notably in the movie ''
Keeping Up with the Steins ''Keeping Up with the Steins'' is a 2006 comedy film directed by Scott Marshall, and starring Garry Marshall Garry Kent Marshall (November 13, 1934 – July 19, 2016) was an American film director, film producer, screenwriter and actor, who is ...
''. In the 1950s, Rabbi Harold Saperstein of New York described them as too often being "more bar than mitzvah". Rabbi
Shmuley Boteach Jacob Shmuel "Shmuley" Boteach ( ; born November 19, 1966) is an American Orthodox Jewish rabbi, author, and TV host. Boteach is the author of 31 books, including the best seller ''Kosher Sex: A Recipe for Passion and Intimacy'', and ''Kosher Jes ...
says that over-the-top bar mitzvah parties were already common when he was growing up in Miami in the 1970s. In 1979, the Responsa Committee of the Central Conference of American Rabbis addressed the Reform attitude toward bar/bat mitzvah: "Every effort should be exerted to maintain the family festivities in the religious mood at the bar/bat mitzvah. Some of the efforts of early Reform in favor of confirmation against bar mitzvah were prompted by the extravagant celebration of bar mitzvah, which had removed its primary religious significance. We vigorously oppose such excesses, as they destroy the meaning of bar/bat mitzvah." In May, 1992, the board of trustees of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now the Union for Reform Judaism), the synagogue arm of the Reform Movement, unanimously passed a resolution decrying "excesses of wasteful consumption...glitzy theme events, sophisticated entertainment...and expensive party favors", calling instead for "family cohesion, authentic friendship, acts of ''
tzedakah ''Tzedakah'' or ''Ṣedaqah'' ( he, צדקה ) is a Hebrew word meaning "righteousness", but commonly used to signify '. This concept of "charity" differs from the modern Western understanding of "charity." The latter is typically understood as ...
'' (righteous giving), and parties suitable for children." The cost of the party depends upon what the family is willing and able to spend. Some families spend tens, or even hundreds, of thousands of dollars on the party. Generally speaking, these celebrations are less costly and elaborate than a wedding in that family. In addition to food and drink for the guests, the money at an elaborate party is mostly spent on renting and decorating a venue and hiring staff, from the catering team to
emcees A master of ceremonies, abbreviated MC or emcee, is the official host of a ceremony A ceremony (, ) is a unified ritual A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gesture A gesture is a form of non-verbal communication or non-voc ...
,
DJs A disc jockey, more commonly abbreviated as DJ, is a person who plays recorded music for an audience. Types of DJs include radio DJs (who host programs on music radio Music radio is a radio format in which music is the main broadcast cont ...
, entertainers, and dancers (also called "motivators") to encourage the guests to dance or play games.


Bat Mitzvah customs

Today many non-Orthodox Jews celebrate a girl's bat mitzvah in the same way as a boy's bar mitzvah. All
Reform Reform ( lat, reformo) means the improvement or amendment of what is wrong, corrupt, unsatisfactory, etc. The use of the word in this way emerges in the late 18th century and is believed to originate from Christopher Wyvill's Association movement ...
and Reconstructionist, and most
Conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the philosophy of art (its own area of philosophy that comes out of aest ...
synagogue A synagogue, ', 'house of assembly', or ', "house of prayer"; Yiddish Yiddish (, or , ''yidish'' or ''idish'', , ; , ''Yidish-Taytsh'', ) is a West Germanic The West Germanic languages constitute the largest of the three branches ...

synagogue
s have egalitarian participation, in which women read from the Torah and lead services. In Orthodox communities, a Bat Mitzvah is celebrated when a girl reaches the age of 12. The majority of
Orthodox Orthodox, Orthodoxy, or Orthodoxism may refer to: Religion * Orthodoxy, adherence to accepted norms, more specifically adherence to creeds, especially within Christianity and Judaism, but also less commonly in non-Abrahamic religions like Neo-paga ...
and some Conservative Jews reject the idea that a woman can publicly read from the Torah or lead prayer services whenever there is a
minyan In Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. It has its roots as an org ...
(
quorum A quorum is the minimum number of members of a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a meeting of members Member may refer to: * Military jury, referred to as "Members" in military jargon * Element (mathematics), an object that be ...
of 10 males) available to do so. However, the public celebration of a girl becoming bat mitzvah in other ways has made strong inroads into
Modern Orthodox Judaism Modern Orthodox Judaism (also Modern Orthodox or Modern Orthodoxy) is a movement within Orthodox Judaism Orthodox Judaism is the collective term for the traditionalist branches of contemporary Judaism. Jewish theology, Theologically, it is ch ...
and also into some elements of
Haredi Judaism Haredi Judaism ( he, יהדות חֲרֵדִית ', ; also spelled ''Charedi'' in English; plural ''Haredim'' or ''Charedim'') consists of groups within Orthodox Judaism Orthodox Judaism is the collective term for the traditionalist branche ...

Haredi Judaism
. In these congregations, women do not read from the Torah or lead prayer services, but they occasionally lecture on a Jewish topic to mark their coming of age, learn a book of
Tanakh The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as one of the spoken languages o ...
, recite verses from the
Book of Esther The Book of Esther (Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans ...
or the
Book of Psalms The Book of Psalms ( or ; he, תְּהִלִּים, , lit. "praises"), commonly referred to simply as Psalms, the Psalter or "the Psalms", is the first book of the ("Writings"), the third section of the Tanakh The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh ...
, or say prayers from the
siddur Siddur ( he, סִדּוּר , ; plural siddurim , ) is a term for a Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO; ) is an international standard are technical standards ...
. In some Modern Orthodox circles, bat mitzvah girls will read from the Torah and lead prayer services in a women's tefillah. Rabbi
Moshe Feinstein הגאון רבי משה Moshe Feinstein Manuscript Moshe Feinstein or Moses Feinstein ( he, משה פײַנשטיין ''Moshe Faynshteyn''; March 3, 1895 – March 23, 1986) was an American Orthodox rabbi A rabbi is a spiritual leader or ...
, a prominent Orthodox ''
posek ''Posek'' ( he, פוסק , pl. ''poskim'', ) is the term in Jewish law ''Halakha'' (; he, הֲלָכָה, ), also transliterated Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script to another that involves swapping let ...
,'' described the bat mitzvah celebration as "meaningless", and of no greater halakhic significance than a birthday party. However, he reluctantly permitted it in homes, but not synagogues, as the latter would be construed as imitating Reform and Conservative customs; in any case, they do not have the status of
seudat mitzvah A ''seudat mitzvah'' ( he, סעודת מצוה, "commanded meal"), in Judaism Judaism ( he, יהדות, ''Yahadut''; originally from Hebrew , ''Yehudah'', "Kingdom of Judah, Judah", via Ancient Greek, Greek ''Ioudaismos''; the term itself ...
. Rabbi
Ovadiah Yosef Ovadia Yosef ( he, , Ovadya Yosef, ; September 24, 1920 – October 7, 2013) was an History of the Jews in Iraq#Otoman rule, Iraqi-born Talmudic scholar, a posek, the Sephardi Jews, Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel from 1973 to 1983, and a founder ...
holds that it is a seudat mitzvah. There were occasional attempts to recognize a girl's coming of age in eastern Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries, the former in Warsaw (1843) and the latter in Lemberg (1902). The occasion was marked by a party without any ritual in the synagogue. According to the archivist at the Great Synagogue in Rome, the custom of a young woman being called up in synagogue before the entire community dates back to the early years of the Roman Jewish community approximately 2,300 years ago. The community recognized her as "being of age" and acknowledged her in a public fashion. This would support more modern documents that record an Orthodox Jewish Italian rite for becoming bat mitzvah (which involved an "entrance into the minyan" ceremony, in which boys of thirteen and girls of twelve recited a blessing) since the mid-19th century. There were also bat mitzvah rituals held in the 19th century in Iraq. All this may have influenced the American rabbi , who held the first public celebration of a bat mitzvah in the United States, for his daughter Judith, on March 18, 1922, at the
Society for the Advancement of Judaism The Society for the Advancement of Judaism, also known as SAJ, is a synagogue A synagogue (; from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world ...
, his synagogue in New York City. Judith Kaplan recited the preliminary blessing, read a portion of that week's Torah portion in Hebrew and English, and then intoned the closing blessing. Mordecai Kaplan, an Orthodox rabbi who joined
Conservative Judaism Conservative Judaism (known as Masorti Judaism outside North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict ...
and then became the founder of
Reconstructionist Judaism Reconstructionist Judaism is a modern Jewish movement that views Judaism as a progressively evolving civilization  A civilization (or civilisation) is a complex society A complex society is a concept that is shared by a range of dis ...
, influenced Jews from all branches of non-Orthodox Judaism, through his position at the
Jewish Theological Seminary of America The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) is a Conservative Jewish Conservative Judaism (known as Masorti Judaism outside North America) is a Jewish religious movements, Jewish religious movement that regards the authority of Jewish law and tra ...
. At the time, most Orthodox rabbis strongly rejected the idea of a bat mitzvah ceremony. As the ceremony became accepted for females as well as males, many women chose to celebrate the ceremony even though they were much older, as a way of formalizing and celebrating their place in the adult Jewish community.


Alternative ceremonies

Instead of reading from the Torah, some Humanist Jews prefer a research paper on a topic in Jewish history to mark their coming of age. Secular Jewish Sunday schools and communities—including those affiliated with the Congress of Secular Jewish Organizations and the Arbeiter Ring (Workmen's Circle)—encourage the youngsters to select any topic that interests them and relates to the Jewish part of their identities. The
kibbutz A kibbutz ( he, קִבּוּץ / , lit. "gathering, clustering"; plural: kibbutzim / ) is a Intentional community, collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture. The first kibbutz, established in 1909, was Degani ...

kibbutz
movement in Israel also encouraged the celebration of the bar mitzvah. All those coming of age in the community for that year would take on a project and research in a topic of Jewish or Zionist interest. Today many kibbutz children are opting for a more traditional bar mitzvah celebration. Among some Jews, a man who has reached the age of 83 will celebrate a second bar mitzvah, under the logic that in the Torah it says that a normal lifespan is 70 years, so that an 83-year-old can be considered 13 in a second lifetime. This ritual is becoming more common as people live longer, healthier lives. A Bark Mitzvah is a pseudo-traditional observance and celebration of a dog's
coming of age Coming of age is a young person Youth is the time of life Life is a characteristic that distinguishes physical entities that have biological processes, such as Cell signaling, signaling and self-sustaining processes, from those th ...
,Shari Cohen and Marcelo Gindlin. ''Alfie's Bark Mitzvah''.
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: Five Star Publications, 2007. Book with audio CD. .
as in the Jewish traditional bar mitzvah and
bat mitzvah Bar mitzvah ( he, בַּר מִצְוָה) is a Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are members of an ethnoreligious group and a nation originating from the Israelites Israelite ori ...
. The term has been in use since at least as early as 1997, and Bark Mitzvahs are sometimes held as an adjunct to the festival of
Purim Purim (; Hebrew: ; , "Cleromancy, lots", from the word , , translated as 'lot' in the Book of Esther, perhaps related to Akkadian language, Akkadian , "stone, urn"; also called the Festival of Lots) is a Jewish holiday which commemorates the savi ...

Purim
.


Gifts

Bar or bat mitzvah celebrations have become an occasion to give the celebrant a commemorative gift. Traditionally, common gifts include books with religious or educational value, religious items, writing implements, savings bonds (to be used for the child's college education), gift certificates, or money. Gifts of cash have become commonplace in recent times. As with charity and all other gifts, it has become common to give in multiples of 18, since the ''
gematria Gematria (; he, גמטריא or gimatria , plural or , ''gimatriot'') is the practice of assigning a numerical value A number is a mathematical object used to count, measure, and label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, 2, ...
'', or numerical equivalent of the
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-survivi ...
word for "life", (" chai"), is the number 18. Monetary gifts in multiples of 18 are considered to be particularly auspicious and have become common for the bar and bat mitzvah. Many b'nai mitzvah also receive their first
tallit A tallit ( he, טַלִּית ''talit'' in Modern Hebrew Modern Hebrew ( he, עברית חדשה, ''ʿivrít ḥadašá ', , ''Literal translation, lit.'' "Modern Hebrew" or "New Hebrew"), also known as Israeli Hebrew or Israeli, and gene ...

tallit
from their parents to be used for the occasion and
tefillin Tefillin (; Israeli Hebrew Israeli may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the State of Israel * Israelis, citizens or permanent residents of the State of Israel * Modern Hebrew, a language * ''Israeli'' (newspaper), published from ...

tefillin
where this is appropriate. Jewelry is a common gift for girls at a bat mitzvah celebration. Another gift for the bat mitzvah girl are Shabbat candlesticks because it is the duty and honour of the woman to light the candles.


In adults

While the traditional age to hold a bar or bat mitzvah is 13 for boys and 12 or 13 for girls, some adults choose to have a bar or bat mitzvah if they did not have them as children. Since the 1970s, adult bar and bat mitzvah have been growing in popularity.


See also

*
Brit milah The ''brit milah'' ( he, בְּרִית מִילָה, ; Ashkenazi Ashkenazi Jews ( are a Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating ...
*
Confirmation In Christian denominations that practice infant baptism Infant baptism is the practice of baptising infants 222x222px, Eight-month-old sororal twin sisters An infant (from the Latin word ''infans'', meaning 'unable to speak' or ...

Confirmation


References


Further reading

* Goldberg, Harvey E. "Rites of Passage: Jewish Rites". ''Encyclopedia of Religion''. Ed. Lindsay Jones. 2nd ed. Vol. 11. Detroit: Macmillan Reference, 2005. pp. 7818–7824
Gale Virtual Reference Library
* Golding, Nora. ''Bat Mitzvahs in America''. Lulu, 2015. . * Hilton, Michael. ''Bar Mitzvah: A History''. University of Nebraska Press, 2014. * Kaplan, Zvi, and Norma Baumel Joseph. "Bar Mitzvah, Bat Mitzvah". ''Encyclopaedia Judaica''. Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. 2nd ed. Vol. 3. Detroit: Macmillan Reference, 2007. pp. 164–167
Gale Virtual Reference Library
* Oppenheimer, Mark. ''Thirteen and a Day: The Bar and Bat Mitzvah across America''. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2005. * Vinick, Barbara and Shulamit Reinharz. ''Today I Am a Woman: Stories of Bat Mitzvah around the World''. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2011. .


External links


Judaism 101: Bar Mitzvah, Bat Mitzvah and Confirmation


Bar mitzvah




My Jewish Learning – What Does Bar Mitzvah Mean?


Bat mitzvah




Bat Mitzvah Clubs International

My Jewish Learning – History of Bat Mitzvah
{{DEFAULTSORT:Bar And Bat Mitzvah Jewish law and rituals Judaism and women Judaism and children Rites of passage Commandments Jewish life cycle Hebrew words and phrases in Jewish law