When a Jewish girl reaches her 12th year, this symbolizes an
important landmark in her life. As young as she is, according to Jewish law,
she is now considered part of the adult Jewish community, and she assumes
responsibility for her own actions as a Jewess. The word “bat” is the Hebrew
word for “daughter of”, the word “Mitzvah” means “commandments”.
According to Jewish law, being a Bat Mitzvah (daughter of the commandments)
means that the Jewish girl now has the privilege of playing a full role in
Jewish life and should keep the commandments like lighting candles on a Friday
night, celebrating the festivals and marking the fast days.
Although Bar Mitzvah celebrations (in a boys 13th year) are
clearly proscribed, the Bat Mitzvah ceremony is a more modern tradition. The celebrations tend to vary according to
ones religious Jewish affiliation. In some communities, the bat mitzvah girl
will be called up to read from the weekly Torah reading in the synagogue. In
other communities the Bat Mitzvah occasion will be marked by a ceremony in the
synagogue, a hall or somewhere else. Sometimes a number of bat mitzvah girls
will choose to celebrate their bat mitzvah together.
Often a big celebration party is held after the ceremony is over, and these
days a lot of time and effort is spent choosing a theme for the party. But
beyond the party, this landmark occasion is an opportunity for growth and
affirmed connection to the Jewish community.
It is a great opportunity for the Bat Mitzvah girl to participate in a
Mitzvah/Chesed project which reflects the Jewish values of giving time, raising
money and awareness on behalf of others.
Other meaningful ways of celebrating can include mother and bat mitzvah
girl embarking on a Jewish learning program together, or to create a ceremony
that will involve members of the family and other special people in order to
emphasize the Jewish chain of generations.
Written by Tali of Your Jewish Speech