As children we dream of growing up, becoming adults and masters of our destiny. Every year we plan a festive birthday celebration, putting together a gifts wish list, dream of the biggest birthday cake and party that will remain in everyone’s memories for many years to come. Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah celebrations are no exception to all traditions mentioned above, but in addition, they are probably the most important birthday and milestone in a Jewish child’s life. For boys at the age of 13 and for girls at 12, ‘Boy’ and ‘Daughter’ of mitzvah celebrate their coming of age, turning from minor to responsible to fulfill Mitzvot.
How should our blessed children prepare for this special occasion and how can we guide them to the next important stage in their life? Here’s the ultimate guide to memorable Bar and Bat Mitzvah!
Bar Mitzvah Lessons
Months prior to the Bar Mitzvah, the young boy must dedicate time to study the Mitzvot and reading the Torah to become acquainted with the responsibility of fulfilling the Mitzvot as will be expected after this milestone. It is recommended that the Bar Mitzvah boy to take his lessons in the synagogue at least six months before the special occasion.
The lessons in the synagogue can also be dedicated to studying a special section from the Torah. It is a popular custom to have the Bar Mitzvah boy chant the Torah section, Haftarah, as part of the celebration in the synagogue.
Bar and Bat Mitzvah Project
Learning through experience is the ideal practice, especially when there are 613 Mitzvot to fulfill. Therefore, the Bar Mitzvah boy and Bat Mitzvah girl can choose a Mitzvah that holds a special meaning to them, make it their own, fulfilling it on a daily basis.
Traditionally, on the first ‘Torah-reading-day’ after his thirteenth birthday, the boy is honored with Aliyah. This means "ascent," relating both to the physical ascent onto the platform where the Torah is read and to the spiritual elevation experienced at that time.
When the boy turns thirteen, he becomes Bar Mitzvah, privileged to fulfill the Mitzvah of tefillin. Tefillin are two leather boxes, inserted with Shema prayer on parchment, worn around the arm and forehead, so that the man remembers the Mitzvot, commanded by God and inscribed on the parchment.
Lighting Shabbat Candles
Turning 12, the Bat Mitzvah can begin learning and lighting Shabbat candles, reciting over the candlesticks, welcoming Shabbat the queen.
Bar and Bat Mitzvah Gifts
Becoming Bar and Bat Mitzvah is such a special occasion for the boy and girl, their parents and grandparents. They are thrilled and anxious as they watch another generation arriving to adulthood, ready to cherish Jewish traditions and Mitzvot, in pride and honor. The entire community joins on the special celebration, showering the young adults with blessings and gifts. Giving Chai is a great gift idea, meaning giving money in multiples of 18, with 18 according to gematria is Chai, and combination of good luck. Jewish jewelry, Tallit set, and tefillin, all make for meaningful Bar Mitzvah Gifts.
Without taking away from the spiritual preparation, be sure to plan a festive party for this special occasion, preferebly on the special day itself!
Mazal Tov to the Bar and Bat Mitzvah!
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