Who Should Get Involved in a Mitzvah Event?The Jewish people have their own celebration as a child enters adulthood. The bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah is their equivalent of the debut in the Western culture. For the Jewish community, the bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah is the stage when a child reaches maturity and accepts his or her adult responsibilities in fulfillment of the Jewish law and religion.
This occasion, however, is more of a family affair than an individual celebration. It involves primarily the parents and the celebrant as well as other members of the family and close relatives. When managed properly, this event provides a powerful spiritual experience for the both children and their parents. For children who have interfaith parents or one parent is non-Jew, this occasion is a good way of affirming the child’s Jewish identity.
In planning an preparing the bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah, parents have a major role to play. Their duties include guiding their child as he or she prepares and starts his religious education, consulting with the rabbi concerning the religious celebration and study, preparing for the details of the Shabbat worship service and the reception party for the celebrant’s family, relatives and friends.
If relatives who are non-Jews will be invited to attend the ceremony, it is recommended that parents include a separate note in the invitation about the proper behavior and etiquette issues to avoid any embarrassing situation on the celebration day. Parents may prepare small booklets to guide guests through the prayer portions, the ceremony and the Shabbat service policies of the synagogue.
Of course, the bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah should be fully encouraged to take an active role in this event which is actually all about him or her. Children need the proper guidance and moral support of their parents all throughout this process. They should be encouraged to take their religious education seriously and their upcoming celebration with enthusiasm. As much as possible, the child should also focus on absorbing what he or she learns during his religious study and practicing his required tasks especially during the ceremony. In case he or she encounters difficulty in his study at the synagogue, the child should not be afraid to tell his teacher or parents about the problem so they can arrange to get a private tutor instead.
Certainly, the rabbi is also a very important person in this process. The rabbi or the religious leader is tasked to explain to the parents all about this special celebration and teach the bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah everything about the various aspects of Jewish life – religious, social, political, history and ethics. The child’s success in his religious education and in fulfilling his required tasks during the ceremony on the big day mainly depends on the competence of the rabbi. Training the celebrant on the proper way of reading his assigned Torah portions, Haftarah passages and leading specific parts of the worship service with the necessary self-confidence are vital components of the study.
Finally, close relatives are also encouraged to attend the ceremony as a way of showing their love and support to the child for his rite of passage celebration. The occasion is a good opportunity for the immediate and extended family to bond together to experience a memorable and meaningful event.
Read more articles on the subject: Bar Mitzvah Traditions Still Being Observed Today