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Ceremony of Coming of Age in Judaism

  • Updated July 27, 2023
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In the Jewish tradition there is a ceremony that takes place for children coming of age. This celebration is defined as a child being old enough to take responsibility of his or her action. Not only does it include males, but females also partake in this event as well. It was until 1922 that females were able to participate in having a bat mitzvah. An adult can also partake in a similar even called affirmation, this event is for jews that didn’t have a bar/bat mitzvah as a child.

During a bar/bat mitzvah the female or male reads off the Torah. The reading takes place in a synagogue. The Torah is the law of God revealed to Moses. There are many types of Judaism, but the most common ones are American Reformed Jews and Traditional Jews. The theory that we applied to this coming of age was kohlberg’s theory of moral development, conventional and post-conceptual morality.

Bar and bat mitzvahs are a tradition in the Jewish culture. Mitzvah is defined as commandment whereas, bar and bat means, son and daughter. The ceremony takes place when the child reaches of age, thirteen is generally for males, and an orthodox and conservative jew female celebrates her bat mitzvah at the age of twelve. A reform jew celebrates her bat mitzvah at the age of thirteen. Coming of age is a grand tradition in their culture.

Once the child turns into a bar or bat mitzvah they are now considered an adult in the Jewish law. Up until they reach of age their parents no longer hold the responsibility of their child’s action. Therefore, they now have new religious privileges and responsibilities of an adult. Also, to help others teach the ways of the Jewish faith. Some of the responsibilities include praying, fasting when required, and so on.

When preparing for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah the child is being supported by a member every step of the way. Most students commence their religious education in about the 5th grade. Here is where they’re introduced to the Jewish community as well as the holidays and rituals. The child has to be able to read and speak fluent hebrew before performing the celebration. He or she is also expected to read/ study for a minimum of 30 minutes per day. The preparation for the ceremony begins a year before the date scheduled.

In the fourteenth or fifthteenth century there has been a ritual ceremony that celebrates the boy’s transition into manhood. During this time period, women were not permitted to participate in the religious services like the boys would. In the nineteenth century is when that changed and women were able to celebrate their transition into womanhood.

Celebrating a mitzvah is a religion that the judaism’s participate in. “In Orthodox and Chasidic practice, women are not permitted to participate in religious services in these ways, so a bat mitzvah, if celebrated at all, is usually little more than a party. In other movements of Judaism, the girls do exactly the same thing as the boys” (Rich, 2011). Today, the ceremony is held in a synagogue because most families consider it to be meaningful and appropriate to celebrate in. It additionally holds incredible significance having the service in a synagogue community. The families are given a year in advance to plan everything.

There has been an issue with some liberal communities about the ceremony that has reshaped bar/bat mitzvahs. Which is the common norms and balancing individual desires. Jews consider children Jewish if their mother is Jewish or is a formal converted Jew. Children who are adopted or children with non-Jewish mothers are ready for a bar/bat mitzvah, that can be an issue when it comes to conversion. If the Jewish family have an adopted child they will have to be converted into judaism first in order to partake in a bar/bat mitzvah.

What happens during a bar / bat mitzvah depends on the congregation. The most common thing that happens during the event is that the boy / girl will read a section from the Torah. The section that is read is determined by the Saturday that follows the birthday of the celebrate. After the celebration, the bar / bat mitzvah will gain new responsibilities.

They will take ownership for their actions, understand right from wrongs, and take on a more spiritual experience. There are variations in how different congregations do things. American reform jews tend to have more lucrative celebrations whereas Orthodox / Traditional Jews have smaller celebrations, usually only consist of their family. Sephardic jews do not take the Torah out of the case and Ashkenazi jews do. During the ceremony, the bar / bat mitzvah will wear a Tallit. A tallit is an overthrow worn by religious jews.

It is additionally normal to hear that people did not have the opportunity to celebrate a bar or bat mitzvah. Adults can have a mitzvah ceremony as well. Adult bar / bat mitzvahs are starting to become common. “In the last three decades, an adult bar/bat mitzvah ceremony has developed that is not a coming of age, but rather an affirmation of Jewish identity for Jews who did not have bar/bat mitzvahs as children” (“My Jewish Learning”, 2011).

Adult bar/bat mitzvahs preparations are more than just an education about the ceremony. It is also preparation for a public ritual practice in the jewish community that makes a statement about their choice and commitment. What they learn during this ritual is knowledge gain has a social purpose. This knowledge is shared among jews, allowing them to stand before a congregation and participate in rituals. This is sacred knowledge giving meaning to all synagogues service in which they will be participating in.

References

Cite this paper

Ceremony of Coming of Age in Judaism. (2020, Dec 13). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/ceremony-of-coming-of-age-in-judaism/

FAQ

FAQ

Is a Bat Mitzvah for a girl?
Yes, a Bat Mitzvah is a Jewish coming-of-age ceremony typically celebrated for a girl when she turns 12 or 13 years old. During this ceremony, she is recognized as a responsible member of the community and is expected to fulfill the commandments of Jewish law.
What happens at a bar mitzvah ceremony?
A bar mitzvah ceremony is a coming of age celebration for Jewish boys who have turned 13. The ceremony includes a reading from the Torah and a speech by the bar mitzvah boy.
What is the difference between Bat Mitzvah and bar mitzvah?
A Bat Mitzvah is a Jewish coming of age ceremony for girls, typically held when a girl is 12 or 13 years old. A Bar Mitzvah is a Jewish coming of age ceremony for boys, typically held when a boy is 13 years old.
Why is bar mitzvah at 13?
The age of thirteen is mentioned in the Mishnah as the time one is obligated to observe the Torah's commandments : "At five years old one should study the Scriptures, at ten years for the Mishnah, at 13 for the commandments "
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