Bar/Bat Mitzvah

By: Becky, Ryleigh, Jeff

Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah

Bar Mitzvah is celebrated when a boy turns thirteen. Bat Mitzvah is celebrated when a girl turns twelve. Bar and Bat Mitzvah means son and daughter of the commandment. It is celebrated because a young person becomes responsible to observe the commandments of the Torah. The history of the bar and bat mitzvah was developed as a public recognition of the young person entering adulthood and taking on religious responsibilities.

The Bar and Bat Mitzvah is celebrated at the Synagogue. The father of the son or daughter recites a blessing and then the son or daughter reads and chants from the Torah. Following the service the congregation joins the family in a Kiddush(small lunch).

The most known feature of the bar/bat mitzvah is the reception this is held on the birthday. There is a party with food, music and dancing. During the Mitzvah celebration the young person gives a speech with some thoughts from the Torah. There is also a gift given at the celebration. A Tzedakah (or charity) box is a popular gift. A Tzedakah box can be placed somewhere so change can be dropped in it each day. The money can then be given to support a Jewish school or institution. Other gifts would be a religious book or item or monetary gifts.

There is a special child-parent dance and then the hora. A hora is a fast paced dance, during the dance the young person is raised up while they are sitting in a chair. The guests then circle around them and dance.

A variety of kosher foods are served at the bar/bat mitzvah reception. Kosher food is no pork/pork products, no shellfish, and no mixing of dairy and meat. A special bread called Challah is blessed at the beginning of the celebration. After the blessing it is then sliced and shared with close relatives. There is also a toast given by the parents of the young person.


Bar/bat mitzvah is actually a status not an event. Bar/bat mitzvah automatically happens when a young person turns 12 or 13. Just as their bodies are changing at this time so is their souls. A new level of soul comes into awareness at this time.