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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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< Q21.6.2 TOC Q21.7.2 >

Question 21.7.1:
B'nai Mitzvah: What is a bar/bat mitzvah?


A bar/bat mitzvah s considered legally responsible to fulfill the mitzvos. A boy becomes bar mitzvah at the age of thirteen and one day. Girls become bat mitzvah at age 12. This is usually celebrated by the child being called to read from the torah at the shabbat closest to their bar/bat mitzvah. As is common in Judaism, there is often a party afterwards, which can vary from the simple home reception to an overly ornate "theme" celebration.

Until the child reaches bar/bat mitzvah age, they are responsible only as part of chinuch (training). After the bar/bat mitzvah, the child is legally an adult in the eyes of Judaism. This means the following:

With respect to Bat Mitzvah. The event itself has been recognized for many generations:

However, none of these ceremonies involved the girl reading from the Torah. The first public bat mitzvah ceremony in which a girl read from the Torah is believed to have been for Judith Kaplan Eisenstein z"l, the daughter of Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of the Reconstructionist movement. The ceremony has since been adopted by almost all movements in Judaism.

Note that the focus of the bar/bat mitzvah should be the actual ceremony, not the party afterwards.

More information on Bar and Bat Mitzvah may be found at

The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

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