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 Is Celebration of Bar Mitzvah Required by Jewish Law?
Orthodox Perspective by Rivka C. Berman

Is a formal celebration of a Bar MItzvah or Bat MItzvah required by Jewish law?
A formal bar or bat mitzvah ceremony is not required by halacha. Since the true definition of a bar or bat mitzvah is one who is obligated to fulfill the mitzvot, this stage of privilege and responsibility arrives by virtue of reaching one’s twelfth or thirteenth birthday.

The bar/bat mitzvah is simply a transition from childhood to adulthood in the eyes of Jewish law. It’s a legal move without a set ritual, without set rules. The Torah, Talmud, and later authorities say nothing about what’s a “must” to be considered a bar or bat mitzvah. (This is in stark contrast to the many strictures at a brit milah or at a Jewish wedding ceremony.)

So Why Celebrate a Bar/Bat Mitzvah?
No ritual must be performed to be considered a bar or bat mitzvah. So what’s the big deal all about? Why all the celebration?

Parents are accountable for their children’s misdeeds. Moms and dads were liable if their little darling caused damage, stole, lied… Likewise, a parent is obligated to train a child to do the mitzvot. At bar mitzvah, the age of personal responsibility dawns. This new accountability is cause for celebration.

In Jewish thought, performing a mitzvah because it is commanded is valued more than volunteering for mitzvah duty. Doing a mitzvah because it is a nice thing to do is a fulfillment of one’s own desires, but doing a mitzvah because it is commanded is acknowledging God’s desire, placing His expectations above one’s own. To be held responsible for performing a mitzvah, to be a bat mitzvah, is to reach of a whole new plane of serving God.

For many children, preparing for a bar mitzvah ceremony a highlight of their growing awareness of Judaism and is a moment when they are the center of attention (a most craved position). To participate in the service gives a sense of belonging. To be the focus of all the fussing provides a sense of importance. If it is done right, the experience will be positive and will build a warm, happy, lasting bond with Jewish life.

Furthermore a bat mitzvah is timed to coincide with the first stretch of adolescence. As a teen reaches for identity throughout these rocky years, bar mitzvah memories fend for what it means to be a Jew. In the best case they will foster a sense of connection with all Judaism has to offer.

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Is a formal celebration of a Bar MItzvah or Bat MItzvah required by Jewish law?
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The Bar Mitzvah Blessing Recited by the Boy's Father: Baruch Sh'Ptarani
Memorial Prayers during the Bar and Bat Mitzvah Celebrations
Videography and Photography during Bar Mitzvah Services at the Synagogue
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