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When is the Second Bar Mitzvah Celebrated?

A bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah is one of the most anticipated events in the life of a Jewish youngster. As a girl turns 12 and as a boy turns 13, they enter a new status in their lives as an adult assuming more mature responsibilities in accordance with the Jewish law and religion. This rite of passage stage is a very memorable occasion for many families as they celebrate with their children in religious ceremonies and fun parties.

In a bar mitzvah, both parents and children have important roles to play. Parents need to be there to provide moral support to their child as he or she goes through the process that primarily involves religious education, Torah reading, leading certain parts of the worship service and the candle lighting ceremony. The celebrant also needs to prepare for his required tasks in order to fulfill his becoming a bar mitzvah and a member of the Jewish adult community. In other words, the passing of spiritual and legal duties and responsibilities from parent to child is whatís given focus during this momentous event.

While the age of 13 may be the first bar mitzvah Jewish families celebrate, it should not be the last. For some, there is still the second bar mitzvah which is traditionally commemorated when a person reaches the age of 83. This idea came from a passage in the Book of Psalms wherein King David stated that the average lifespan of a person is 70 years and those who live beyond that age are to start life over again.

And so according to tradition, another bar mitzvah can be celebrated 13 years after the age of 70 which is 83. This stage is considered to be an individualís second lifetime. The celebration of a second bar mitzvah may not be legally recognized but it is now practiced among other Jewish denominations. For those who believe in it, itís a time for the celebrant to thank God for having reached the age of 83 and a time to reflect on lifeís journey. And to follow the original religious service, the bar mitzvah can read the same haftarah he read 70 years ago and incorporate in his speech the changes that occurred in him from a young man of 13 to the matured person that he is at 83.

Meanwhile, for people who joined the Jewish religion at a later stage in their lives, it is never too late to celebrate a bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah. Adults who do observe this tradition still undergo the same religious study required of those who turned 12 and 13. The education focuses on a synagogue-based class or one-on-one study with a rabbi for about one year or more.

Adult education for bar mitzvah / bat mitzvah entails the learning of Hebrew and skills needed to lead part of a worship service and analyze the relevant Torah portion. Other religious subjects included are the Torah chanting, haftarah, theology and Jewish history and tradition. The ceremony may be done individually or shared with other members of the class as well as the adultís parents and members of his congregation.

Read more articles on the subject: Bar Mitzvah Traditions Still Being Observed Today

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