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A young man dressed for his Bar Mitzvah.
Photo Courtesy of Rikka Wallin.
Bar Mitzvah
Bar Mitzvah means "son of the commandment." A Jewish boy automatically becomes a "bar mitzvah" when he reaches the age of 13. However, the term is also used for the ceremony that takes place when a boy becomes an adult member of the Jewish community. He is then expected to observe the Jewish commandments and he can participate in religious services. A boy prepares for his bar mitzvah for months in advance, studying the Hebrew language and Jewish religious practices. On the day of the ceremony, which is held at a synagogue, a Jewish place of worship, he recites his first blessing, called an aliyah. His father blesses him, symbolizing the transfer of responsibilities from the parents to the boy. Today, many people associate the term bar mitzvah with the celebration that takes place after the religious ceremony. Although a celebration is not required by Jewish custom, it has become a popular tradition that celebrates a boy’s coming-of-age. A more recent tradition is the bat mitzvah, which recognizes a Jewish girl’s entrance into womanhood when she turns 12. Historically, women did not take part in religious services, so a bat mitzvah may differ from a boy’s ceremony, depending on the synagogue the family attends.
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