A child is a child. Perhaps a bright child, a knowledgeable child, even a child more rational than an adult—yet still lacking the mental, emotional and moral maturity that distinguishes the adult from the child. Around the age of 12 for a girl, 13 for a boy, that sense begins to kick in. That’s why only at that age does Jewish law consider you responsible for your actions.

This milestone is known as bar mitzvah for boys, and bat mitzvah for girls. That means “son/daughter of the mitzvah”—because now you are obliged to keep all the mitzvahs (precepts) of the Torah.

Now that’s a milestone worth celebrating. So we hold a festive meal where words of Torah and inspiration are shared by the guest of honor and others. Make sure to schedule this celebration for the Jewish birthday, or shortly thereafter. Use our Bar/Bat Mitzvah Date Calculator to check the date.

It’s a milestone worth celebrating. We hold a festive meal where words of Torah are shared by the guest of honor and othersEven more important is that girls and boys spend the months beforehand brushing up on the how-tos of the mitzvahs and the importance of observing them, and deepen their understanding of what it means to be Jewish.

What if you missed the celebration? Once you’ve reached that age, you are a bar or bat mitzvah. It’s like a birthday: you can choose not to celebrate it, but that won’t make you any younger.

Bar Mitzvah Details:

A few weeks beforehand, the young man starts practice-wrapping tefillin daily. The bar mitzvah day is the start of the real thing. Also from that day, he is counted in a minyan—the required quorum of ten for a prayer service. Also, he may lead communal prayers and receive an aliyah at Torah readings.

The bar mitzvah boy is traditionally honored with an aliyah on, or shortly after, becoming bar mitzvah. In some communities it is customary for him to read from the Torah or the haftorah (the reading of Prophets that follows the Shabbat Torah reading).