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Definition: bar mitzvah from Philip's Encyclopedia

Jewish ceremony in which a young male is initiated into the religious community. At the ceremony, which traditionally takes place when he is aged 13 years and a day, he reads a portion of the Torah in a synagogue. The religious rite is followed by a social celebration. Some non-orthodox communities also celebrate a bas (or bat) mitzvah for girls.


Summary Article: bar mitzvah
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

In Judaism, initiation of a boy, which takes place at the age of 13, into the adult Jewish community; less common is the bat mitzvah for girls, an identical ceremony conducted mainly in Reform and Liberal congregations. The child is called up to the bimah to read a passage from the Torah in the synagogue on the Sabbath, and is subsequently regarded as a full member of the congregation.

Under Jewish law ,a young boy is responsible for his own actions from the age of 13, including responsibility to God for the fulfilment of the commandments. In Orthodox communities, a girl automatically becomes bat mitzvah on her 12th birthday.

Celebrations of becoming bar or bat mitzvah have varied over time. It usually takes place at the Saturday morning Sabbath service. The young person will have had to learn to read ancient Hebrew fluently, and will have practised their reading for many months beforehand. There will be special readings of dedication and obligation by the young person, including a reciting of the Ten Commandments. The rabbi will give a sermon welcoming the young person into the adult congregation. It is a very happy occasion with friends and relatives present, and often a party afterwards.

After the ceremony a boy will put on tefillin (small boxes containing prayer scrolls) every day if they are Orthodox, will follow all the fasting days of the calendar, will be able to make up a minyan (the ten men required for communal prayer), and may be called up to the ark to read from the Torah at services; girls from Reform and Liberal Jewish congregations take on the same responsibilities and rituals as the boys.

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Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah

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bar mitzvah rites

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