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Bar Mitzvah, Bat Mitzvah

Subject Religion » Judaism

Key-Topics adolescence

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631181392.1995.x


[ xxii ] Jewish boys and girls are considered adults on their 13th and 12th Hebrew birthdays respectively, when they become responsible for keeping the commandments, being called bar mitzvah (‘son of the commandment’) and bat mitzvah (‘daughter of the commandment’) respectively [5; 14 vol. 4: 243; 27]. Originally the mark of adulthood was the growth of two pubic hairs, but since hairs might grow and then fall out an average age of puberty was accepted. Since the middle ages [1: 32] it has been customary to celebrate a boy's bar mitzvah by calling him up for an aliyah to the T orah reading, usually on a S habbat morning. This is followed by a celebratory kiddush after the service and a party after the Sabbath. A bar mitzvah boy begins putting on T efillin on weekday mornings and can henceforth be included in a minyan quorum of ten adult males for public service [70: 142]. In modern times Reform and Conservative congregations introduced bat mitzvah ceremonies for girls, to parallel bar mitzvahs, and subsequently Modern Orthodox congregations also instituted ceremonies for groups of girls together, usually on a Sunday. More traditionalist Orthodox groups [cf. 39], however, reject the bat mitzvah ceremony altogether as a modernist innovation imitating Reform or Christian practice [69: 34]. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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