A Bar or Bat Mitzvah is not just about throwing a huge party for friends and family, although it is very much a celebration. Behind this extravaganza is an ancient ritual, a ‘Coming of Age’ when a young Jewish person reads from or about the ancient Torah for the first time in front of their community, and in the eyes of Judaism, they become an adult.
I asked a collection of esteemed Rabbis, many of whom I am privileged to call friends, to share some insight about the Bar and Bat Mitzvah rite of passage. Here is what they said…
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks: “One of the most fundamental facts about Judaism is that we do not choose to be Jews. We are born as Jews. We become legal adults, subject to the commands and responsible for our actions, at the age of twelve for girls, thirteen for boys. But we are part of the covenant from birth. A Bat or Bar mitzvah is not a “confirmation.” It involves no voluntary acceptance of Jewish identity. That choice took place more than three thousand years ago when Moses said “It is not with you alone that I am making this sworn covenant, but with … whoever is not here with us today,” meaning all future generations, including us.”
Rabbi Yisroel Weisz of The Village Shul: “Bar Mitzvah is that unique moment when you have the ability to step onto the pitch, to become a player not just a fan. The question wells up within: How will I perform? My life needs to answer that question.”