Bat Mitzvah Ceremony is a vital Event in the Life of a Jewish girl
In Aramaic the literal meaning of Bat mitzvah “daughter of commandment” where bat means “daughter” and mitzvah means “commandment” or “law”. It is a ritual followed by Jews according to which when a girl reaches the age of 12, she is subject to law for all her actions and deeds. Jews believe that prior to reaching this age parents are responsible for their child in every respect i.e. providing education, health facilities and even all her doings. And if a child commits sin, her parents are accountable for it.
History shows that there is a slight difference of opinion between different groups of Jews on the ceremony and events of bat mitzvah. The non-orthodox Jews celebrate a girl’s ceremony which is very similar to the boy’s bar mitzvah ceremony. On the other hand, majority of orthodox Jews and conservative Jews shun the idea of public reading of Torah by women. Women are also not allowed to lead any prayer services in public.
On the girl’s 12th birthday, a gathering is arranged in which all family members, friends and other members of community are invited. But it is entirely up to one’s own choice as it can be a small family gathering as well. In the past few decades however the trend of throwing lavish parties on this day has become more and more popular.
Bat Mitzvah Speech
Practices followed during events for this reception vary greatly but traditionally the girl delivers a speech she has prepared specifically for this occasion. She starts preparing the speech months before the actual day. This speech consists of concepts and understanding of weekly portions of Torah.
The girl also declares himself to the utmost fulfillment of Jewish norms and values and promises to abide by all the rules. Afterwards, dinner is served which is part of this celebration.
In non-orthodox group, on the Shabbat following her 12th birthday, bat mitzvah reads from weekly portion of Torah. The family members at times also get called for Aliyah. In some cases the girl also discusses the portion of Torah from that week or delivers a speech.
In modern orthodox Jews, girl reads Torah in front of women and leads their prayer service. In some other communities, girl reads Torah during special meals arranged just for women.
The celebrations of this significant event are incomplete without gifts. Presents are given to encourage the young girl and congratulate her on this auspicious and memorable day of her life. Keeping into account the significance of this occasion, traditional gifts are religious books, religious items, charity boxes or money (usually in the multiples of 18). A piece of jewelry is another common gift for girls. Shabbat candle sticks also make a beautiful present for this occasion.
Post Mitzvah Ceremony
The bat mitzvah ceremony is considered a milestone in the life of a Jewish girl. It is considered as beginning of a new life and the girl now acquires status of a responsible citizen of Jewish community. The true essence of this ceremony is to follow Torah teachings in every walk of life and excel as an individual and as a community as a whole. We can say that Bar and Bat Mitzvah are the very important events in Jewish Community.