A Bar Mitzvah

A Bar Mitzvah is, quite simply, the name for the ceremony of the passage into manhood. This is for Jewish boys/men. This ceremony is long and arduous, requiring many, many, many tedious steps, and "challenges."

"Bar Mitzvah" literally means "son of the commandment." "Bar" is "son" in Aramaic, which used to be the vernacular of the Jewish people. "Mitzvah" is "commandment" in both Hebrew and Aramaic. "Bat" is daughter in Hebrew and Aramaic. (The Ashkenazic pronunciation is "bas")

This ceremony is usually performed around the ages of 12 or 13 years of age. During the years preceding this "coming of age" passage, a kosher jewish boy will probably spend many, many, many hours reading the Torah and other Hewbrew texts so that he will have the scripture almost memorized when the time comes to read the sacred texts at the alter. I have been to two such ceremonies and they are extremely long. Both were upwards of 3 hours, which is not, however, unreasonable given that both of my friends started studying for their Bar Mitzvah's when they were about 8 years old.

It is common practice for the Bar Mitzvah celebrant to do much more than just say the blessing. It is most common for the celebrant to learn the entire haftarah portion, including its traditional chant, and recite that.

It is important to note that a Bar Mitzvah is not the goal of a Jewish education, nor is it a graduation ceremony marking the end of a person's Jewish education. We are obligated to study Torah throughout our lives. To emphasize this point, some Rabbis require a Bar Mitzvah student to sign an agreement promising to continue Jewish education after the Bar Mitzvah.