Rite of Passage – Jewish

“Both Bar and Bat Mitzvahs are an important step in every Jewish persons religious life.  The ceremony happens during the teenage years, at the age of twelve for girls and thirteen boys, and symbolizes a child’s transition into adulthood.   Preparation for this event usually begins well before the actual Bar or Bat Mitzvah is to take place.  The child will have to go to months of tutoring in order to learn how to read the Torah, which is the most holy text in the Jewish religion.  The actual ceremony consists of the boy or girl reading the Torah and reciting Jewish prayers in front of his family and friends.  After the ceremony is over, both family and friends are always invited to a lunch as the celebration of the boy or girls transition to an adult begins.  In many cases there is even a party held later that night for the new adults.  I remember the stress that I went through when I was thirteen years old and it was the week leading up to my Bar Mitzvah.  I had put in all of this work to learn the Torah and I was so nervous that I literally memorized the parts that I was reading.  I’m the oldest in my family so it was very difficult for my mom, who I think almost had a nervous break down in the week leading up to the ceremony.  All that said it was an experience I will not forget and it really did bring me closer to my religion.  The ceremony went well, it was nice seeing all my family and friends at the lunch, and the party that night was a lot of fun.  The gift part of the deal isn’t that bad either.”

I have been to several Bar and Bat Mitzvahs in my life and they truly are a celebration of a person moving from childhood to adulthood.  Back in grade school I remember one of my best friends preparing for his Bar Mitzvah well over a year in advance.  You could see how important ceremony was to both him and his parents, because it was a big step in both their lives.  This liminal period, or rite of passage, in a teenager’s life is not only important to their status in the religion, but in the outside world as well.  In many ways it represents a time in everyone’s life where they begin to gain freedom, and with that comes responsibility.

I like this Jews tradition because, to my knowledge, it is the only religion that takes note of a boy or girls transition to adulthood.  While it may be an extravagant celebration it is important to the Jews community and pushes young teenagers to begin to consider themselves as adults.