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Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah  ceremonies

"Thirteen years old unto the commandments" (Pirkei Avot); "For sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely" (Song of Solomon 2:14)

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A Bar Mitzvah or a Bat Mitzvah is an important ceremony in the Jewish life circle. It marks a significant moment, that of departing childhood and proceeding towards adulthood.

According to tradition, there is a drasha (a sermon) prepared and delivered by the celebrating youth, and an aliyah laTorah (the calling of a member of a Jewish congregation for a segment of Torah reading) for the first time in his or her life, which is a ceremonial highlight during a Bar Mitzvah or a Bat Mitzvah. Likewise, a traditional wrapping in a tallit and the putting on tefillin, also take place.

It is recommended, when planning the ceremony, to adapt the prayer and aliyah to an Israeli audience, by blending in Israeli songs. It is also recommended to hold a musical Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah and to include personal greetings by family, friends and dear ones during the ceremony.

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About Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah 

The Reform Bat Mitzvah Ceremony

Since we believe in gender equality, the Reform movement sanctions no difference in its relation to gender when it comes to either Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah.

Therefore, girls who reach adulthood, which according to tradition occurs at the age of twelve, have the right of aliyah laTorah, and may write a drasha.

In addition, if they are interested, Bat Mitzvah girls may also wrap themselves in a tallit and put on tefillin, just as Rashi's daughters did.

These traditional elements, which strengthen an adolescent girl's ties with the Jewish tradition, is an exciting experience for the whole family, especially for mothers and grandmothers, most of who did not get to make aliyah laTorah themselves. It conveys a message of gender equality.

Bat Mitzvah ceremonies are held in an egalitarian atmosphere and, as in Bar Mitzvah ceremonies, Israeli songs can be incorporated into the traditional ceremony.

A musical Bat Mitzvah ceremony also can be conducted and such ceremony can be adapted to the values, style and tastes of the family and the Bat Mitzvah girl herself.

The Reform Bar Mitzvah Ceremony

A Reform Bar Mitzvah ceremony interlaces the values of Jewish tradition with contemporary Israeli cultural weave. For instance, the ceremony is gender-equal and allows women and men to intermingle, the mother of the Bar Mitzvah 's groom and the other men and women present fully participate in the ceremony. In addition, the study process entailed reflects Jewish values that respect and embrace each family according to the specific traditions, beliefs and values it adheres to.

Both the study entailed and the ceremony itself are conducted while attending to the needs and desires of the Bar Mitzvah groom and his family and while entertaining the incorporation of personal contents, such as songs or greetings interwoven into a traditional ceremony.

The Reform movement's Rabbis are happy to hold a Bar Mitzvah ceremony even for those whose one parent is not Jewish, in order to bring them closer to the tradition of the People of Israel. Rabbis in the Reform movement are also proud to hold Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah ceremonies for challenged individuals, be it physically, emotionally, behaviorally, etc.


Musical Bar Mitzvah / Musical Bat Mitzvah 

A musical Bar or Bat Mitzvah is a great way to make the Bar Mitzvah ceremony exciting, fun, experiential and meaningful for a Bar / Bat Mitzvah boy / girl, as well as for family, friends and guests. The musical prayer, accompanied by singing, guitar, and other musical instruments, makes the prayer ceremony a fun one, where music envelops the participants and links them to the sanctity of the prayer, the intensity of the experience and the excitement of the moment. The music accompanies the traditional prayer passages. It also enables a incorporation of familiar and beloved Israeli songs during the traditional prayer segment. The same professional musicians who would accompany the prayer and aliyah ceremony could also play during a reception that could take place either before or after the ceremony.

Where and When Would One Celebrate Bar/ Bat Mitzvah?

The Bar or Bat Mitzvah ceremony can be held in a synagogue, at a historical heritage site (such as the Western Wall, Masada or in an ancient synagogue in the Galilee), at an outdoors location, in a hall or a restaurant or at the family's home; indeed, anywhere a ceremony could be held in a meaningful, pleasant and dignified setting. It is customary to have boys conduct an aliyah laTorah around their thirteenth birthday according to the Hebrew calendar whereas girls could perform it around their twelfth Hebrew calendar's birthday. Traditionally the Torah is read on Saturdays, on holidays or on Mondays and Thursdays. If opting for a popular place, it would be advisable to reserve the place well in advance.

For more details about Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah ceremonies with Rabbi Or Zohar, send an inquiry

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