What is Bar/Bat Mitzvah?
Bar or Bat Mitzvah is a title a Jew earns at the age of 13. The title indicates a new status in the Jewish community with accompanying privileges and responsibilities.
Bar means “son” and Bat means “daughter.” A mitzvah is a ‘commandment.’ Thus, to become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah is to become a son or daughter of the commandment, that is, one who is obligated to learn about and to observe commandments and Jewish practices as an adult.
Mitzvot teach us to sanctify life. They foster both selflessness and self-esteem, so crucial to the life of a young Jew. They can bring Jewish families closer to the Jewish people, to all people, and to God. Getting ready for Bat and Bar Mitzvah provides a perfect opportunity to bring mitzvot into our Jewish lives. The terms Bar and Bat Mitzvah can therefore be understood as “old enough to do mitzvot.”
The Bat/Bar Mitzvah child at The Temple leads part of the Saturday Shabbat service and reads or chants the Torah and Haftarah portion and blessings for that particular Shabbat. Reading the Torah and Haftarah is an honor and a privilege, but it is also a challenge. It requires knowledge of the Hebrew language and an understanding of sections of our sacred texts. It also affords the students an opportunity to take an adult role in the synagogue and the Jewish community.