World Faiths & Religions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah?

The term Bar Mitzvah is a Jewish legal term that means essentially, "of majority age." When a Bar Mitzvah boy used to say or still says, "Today I am a man", what this actually meant was not that he could now get a car and smoke a cigar. Practically speaking what this means is that at age 13, and traditionally at age 12 for girls (who have a Bat Mitzvah), one becomes obligated to fulfill all of the rites and obligations of Jewish Law. This is still true today, though for non-Orthodox Jews, this notion of obligation to Jewish Law is no longer extant. At a Bar or Bat Mitzvah of non-Orthodox boys and girls, what is emphasized is the rite of passage from childhood, into adolescence and toward adulthood. The real declaration of the Bar Mitzvah boy or Bat Mitzvah girl, for the traditional Jew or the post-modern Jew is, "Today I am officially declaring that I am growing up."