Consult a Rabbi If in DoubtUnder Jewish law and religion, a child reaches maturity and assumes adult responsibilities at the age of 12 for girls and 13 for boys. This is referred to as a bar or bat mitzvah often known as the stage when a child “becomes of age.” For Jewish parents, this is a significant celebration in the life of their children as they are called to study about their religion and its commandments.
While it is common nowadays to throw a modern party to mark this occasion, parents should not disregard the main essence of a bar or bat mitzvah. Many rabbis residing in the U.S. have expressed frustration over the modern concept of this celebration which has become more material in nature. They believe that the ceremony should focus more on preparing the celebrant to address the Jewish congregation, give a meaningful speech about the Torah portion and spiritual values.
A rabbi plays a major role in influencing the spiritual evolution of a child. For those who wish their children to gain a deeper understanding of the Jewish commandments and of their new obligations in life, consultation with a rabbi is highly recommended. The rabbi is the right person who can provide you and your child with extensive information as to what this celebration is about and the processes that the celebrant need to go through.
Basically, a rabbi will determine several important aspects of the religious education and service.
- Period of study. A rabbi will normally require a bar or bat mitzvah to undergo several months of study, four months at the least, concerning the Jewish religion. This should be a religiously rewarding and meaningful experience as a child formalizes his Torah knowledge, religious responsibility and practice. It is expected that during this period, the child and his parents will attend the worship services at the synagogue on a regular basis. This is also an opportunity for the family to get acquainted with the congregation before the celebration.
- Date of the aliyyah. During the consultation, the rabbi will determine the date of the aliyyah to the Torah and the portion of the Torah the boy or girl will read. The aliyyah is when a bar or bat mitzvah attends his first Shabbat service as an adult and is called to the Torah and reads some passages, usually the Maftir and Haftarah.
- Kiddush after the service. A Kiddush or reception normally takes place after the service with the celebrant’s family and the whole congregation in attendance. Parents should also find out the details about this including the policy of the synagogue pertaining to the kind of food to serve.
In this modern day, religious leaders still have high hopes that families who want to pass on their Jewish heritage to their children should never forget tradition. More than spending money for the religious study and party celebration of the bar or bat mitzvahs, parents should emphasize the significance of the Torah portions in the lives of their children and encourage them to follow the commandments religiously. Only when tradition is preserved the proper way can children carry on their spiritual and moral obligations on with great pride and happiness.
Read more articles on the subject: Bar Mitzvah Traditions Still Being Observed Today
Tags: Bar Mitzvah Traditions