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birthday home > unique birthday party ideas > bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah ceremony rituals

Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah Ceremony Rituals

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The Bar and Bat Mitzvah are coming-of-age rituals practiced by the Jews. According to their laws, when children turn 13 years old they become responsible for all their actions and will have the same rights as an adult. Boys become Bar Mitzvah or "son of commandment" while the girls become Bat Mitzvah or "daughters of commandment". In Orthodox communities, the Bat Mitzvah is observed when a girl turns 12.

Aside from being morally and ethically responsible for all their actions, those who become Bar and Bat Mitzvah gain the right to participate and be counted in a prayer quorum or Minyan. He or she may lead a religious service, except for Orthodox congregations who do not allow girls to lead in any religious services. They can also sign a contract or even testify in court.

Calling the boy or girl to say or give Torah blessings during a service is known as an Aliyah (from Hebrew meaning to rise or to ascend; to go up). The popular practice is that on at least one Shabbat service after becoming Bar and Bat Mitzvah, the boy or girl may recite blessings from the Torah. They can also lead all or part of the morning prayer services. However, this practice may vary from one congregation to another.

In most of the Jewish congregations, the years before the Bar and Bat Mitzvah event are spent preparing for it. Many will require the teens to attend a certain number of Shabbat services at a synagogue, take on a community service or charity project, attend Hebrew School, as well as to maintain a good standing with the synagogue. This has spawned a cottage industry of tutors offering services which includes teaching Hebrew, basic Jewish concepts, Torah cantillation, and arranging community service efforts.

During a B'nai Mitzvah (plural) ceremony, a celebratory meal with friends, family, and members of the community is traditional. In some affluent families and communities, this meal often eclipses the religious ceremony itself, and is sometimes even more extravagant than a wedding. However, it should be kept in mind that the revelries is just part of a more important event with religious implications - becoming a Bar and Bat Mitzvah.

In today's practice, teenage boys who are members of a branch of Judaism that wear tefillin, don't have the right to wear it until they are almost a Bar Mitzvah - usually around 30 days before their 13th birthday. However, some will allow the wearing of tefillin as early as 3 months before becoming a Bar Mitzvah, which is why there is a perceived correlation between the tefillin and the Bar Mitzvah ceremony.

Similar to other big life celebrations, a Bar or Bat Mitzvah is an occasion that merits the celebrant a commemorative gift from the guests. Traditional gifts include religious items such as books, money, gift certificates, writing implements, or jewelry for girls. In recent times, monetary gifts have become commonplace. Although, it is still laced with customs such as giving money in multiples of 18 which in gematria is the numerical equivalent of the word "life" in Hebrew. Guests are also given Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah Party Favors.

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