Bar Mitzvah in Israel is directly translated to ‘the commandments son.’ The word ‘Bar’ means ‘son’ in Aramaic. Aramaic is the old language spoken by the Jewish people. ‘The word ‘Mitzvah’ translates to ‘commandment.’ There is a female counterpart to this and it is called ‘Bat Mitzvah’ where ‘Bat’ (pronounced as Bas) means ‘daughter.’

Bar Mitzvah in Israel is a celebration wherein a child becomes a Bar or Bat. In other words, it is a growing up stage for these children. The whole celebration and ceremony is also called Bar or Bat Mitzvah where people get invited to and celebrate with the child or children.

What is the essence of Bar Mitzvah in Israel

There are Jewish commandments that are to be followed by Jewish people after they have been through Bar Mitzvah in Israel. But before a boy or girl reaches the age for this, he or she is not obliged to follow these commandments. The right age for a Jewish boy to pass this event is 13 and for girls it is 12. Once they go through they will now have to follow the commandments of the Jewish religion.  The essence of Bar Mitzvah celebration is to make it formal for boys and girls to follow the Jewish commandments. After this, some of the duties of the Bar or Bat is to serve in Jewish religious festivities, become one of the Minyan which is the least number of persons who can take part in these festivities, to sign contracts that are conclusive, to provide their statements held in Jewish courts and to get married.

Today’s Celebration

The celebrations of the Bar Mitzvah in Israel is far different than it was before. The celebrants today are given more duties than just receiving a plain blessing. The haftarah portion of the celebration is something that celebrants, both boys and girls need to know in its’ totality. This includes the chants and all the other recitations included in it.  There are other Jewish communities that require the celebrant to for one entire week a long portion of the Torah. Then there are some who require the children to play leads in certain aspects of the service and in some parts of the prayers.

The celebrant of a Bar Mitzvah in Israel usually says a speech. He or she starts with a sentence with a declaration of ‘today I am a man’ or ‘today I am a woman.’ The father then proceeds to thank God for the blessing of now taking away from him the responsibility of carrying the sins of the son or daughter since the child now is of the right age to gain responsibility for his sins.

After the father speaks his thanksgiving, the celebration is not yet done. The usual manner is that the celebration is followed by an elaborate and festive reception that can be compared to a Jewish wedding.  In this reception, there will be no lack of food, drinks and fun.

This is what Bar Mitzvah is all about. If you’re visiting Israel, this is one of the most colorful celebrations you can witness and take part in since it speaks volumes about the country’s culture and tradition.

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Naveen Kumar
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