Jewish Bar Mitzvah

JNS.org offers news from the Jewish world and Israel on the Jewish Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah, as well as lifestyle features and tips, including the ritual’s history, its religious and secular commemoration, and Bar Mitzvah gift ideas. To select another topic, choose from the other content “categories” in our navigation bar.

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For the tens of thousands of youths from dysfunctional families who are cared for in residential facilities all over Israel, it’s often Diaspora Jews who make the difference between having no bar/bat mitzvah at all, or having a meaningful transition into Jewish responsibility.

In the beautiful Italian mountains, where Jewish practice went underground 500 years ago, Jews from around the world are celebrating bar and bat mitzvahs.

Today, with families more spread out than they used to be, the idea of a destination wedding or bar/bat mitzvah is more appealing than ever. Having guests travel to one location can be efficient, fun, and serve as a vacation at the same, writes travel agent Ellen Paderson.

If the words “kosher catering” conjure up visions of bland and unhealthy food, and memories of bar and bat mitzvahs past still haunt you, remember that planning your upcoming simcha doesn’t have to be a monotonous process full of seen-it-befores or tried-that-onces. With the help of creative kosher catering professionals—or by simply looking within yourself—your special day can be one of a kind.

Rabbi Bradley Solmsen, North American Director of Youth Engagement for the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and the co-director of URJ's B'nei Mitzvah Revolution project, in an oped advises the modern-day teen celebrating a bar or bat mitzvah to approach the rite of passage not as a sort of graduation ceremony, but as a meaningful transition towards Jewish adulthood.

While traditionally associated with years of Hebrew school, stressing over your d'var torah with your parents, or preteen awkwardness on the dance floor, today Jewish adults are increasingly reinventing the Jewish rite of passage typically reserved for teens. Whether they're for recent converts, those denied celebrations as children, or those rediscovering their Jewish identity, the phenomenon of adult bar/bat mitzvahs has become a regular feature at many Reform and Conservative synagogues throughout the country.

As young people, bar and bat mitzvah parties helped us build character: awkward social interactions, quiet slow-dances where you desperately try not to make eye contact, and condescending head-pats from adults and kids taller than us. Now that we’re older, and head-pats have taken on a sexier implication, how do we behave ourselves at our cousin’s/nephew’s celebration? JNS humor columnist Leo Margul explains how to act—and how not to act.

Your little tot is now not only a teenager, but also preparing for a critical Jewish rite of passage—and you’ve spent too much time feeling sentimental, or planning the party, to remember a gift for the bar or bat mitzvah. But don’t sweat the small stuff: JNS.org has plenty of gifts that are a little less kosher and a lot more fun than the typical envelope filled with multiples of 18.

In the 90 years since Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan’s oldest daughter, Judith, became the first American girl to mark her Jewish coming-of-age in a synagogue, the bat mitzvah celebration has become an accepted practice. A current museum exhibit showcases a collection of personal stories on this tradition, which progressed parallel to the American feminist movement.

Drawing from the personal experience of her synagogue’s granting a policy change request, Sally Gottesman works to be an agent of change for bar and bat mitzvah practices.

Some Jewish pet owners throw a “bark mitzvah” to celebrate their canine’s coming of age.
Want to plan that beautiful bar or bat mitzvah you’ve been dreaming of, without breaking the bank? This guide will show you how to create a party to remember.
A chocolate factory, a $27,000 gown, and ‘Mitzvahpalooza.’
The oddities and paradoxes from which comedy springs are most evident in the gap between the awkwardness of youth and the responsibilities of adulthood.
These ideas for bar and bat mitzvah presents aren’t just fun gadgets—they’ll teach children a life lesson or two.
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