Rites of Passage: Barmitzvah and Batmitzvah

A Jewish girl becomes responsible for her own religious and moral behaviour at the age of 12. This is called Batmitzvah; this is Hebrew for daughter of the Commandments.

A boy reaches this age of responsibility at 13. This is called Barmitzvah - son of the Commandments.

Besides their general Jewish education, boys and girls have special additional studies in the year leading up to the Bar/Batmitzvah. During this period they will learn various skills, which include leading services, carrying out various rituals correctly, and learning to read the appropriate section of the Torah, which they will then read at their coming-of-age ceremony.

Depending on their level of observance, the ceremony can vary. In some Jewish communities, girls wait until they’re 13 to celebrate their Batmitzvah. In other Jewish communities, boys read from the Torah, and perhaps lead part of the service. Girls may teach the congregation something they have learnt in their studies leading up to the ceremony.

 

In this video Joel goes to a Batmitzvah. He watches the service and takes part in the celebration that follows.