bar mitzvah

bar mitzvah
/bahr mits"veuh / or, Ashk. Heb. /bahrdd/; Seph. Heb. /bahrdd' meets vah"/, (often caps.) Judaism.
1. a solemn ceremony held in the synagogue, usually on Saturday morning, to admit as an adult member of the Jewish community a Jewish boy 13 years old who has successfully completed a prescribed course of study in Judaism.
2. the boy participating in this ceremony.
3. to administer the ceremony of bar mitzvah to: Our son was bar mitzvahed at the family synagogue. Cf. bat mitzvah.
Also, bar mizvah.
[1860-65; < Biblical Aram bar son + Heb miswah divine law, commandment]

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Jewish ritual celebrating a boy's 13th birthday and his entry into the community of Judaism.

It usually takes place during a Sabbath service, when the boy reads from the Torah and may give a discourse on the text. The service is often followed by a festive Kiddush and a family dinner on the same day or next day. Reform Judaism substituted confirmation of boys and girls for the Bar Mitzvah celebration after 1810, but many congregations restored the Bar Mitzvah in the 20th century. A separate ceremony for girls, Bat Mitzvah, has been instituted in Reform and Conservative Judaism.

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also spelled  Bar Mitzva, or Mitzwa (Hebrew: “Son of the Commandment”),  plural  Bar Mitzvahs, Bar Mitzvot, or Bar Mitzwot,  
 Jewish religious ritual and family celebration commemorating the religious adulthood of a boy on his 13th birthday. The boy, now deemed personally responsible for fulfilling all the commandments, may henceforth don phylacteries (religious symbols worn on the forehead and left arm) during the weekday-morning prayers and may be counted an adult whenever 10 male adults are needed to form a quorum (minyan) for public prayers.

      In a public act of acknowledging religious majority, the boy is called up during the religious service to read from the Torah. This event may take place on any occasion following the 13th birthday at which the Torah is read but generally occurs on the sabbath. The liturgy of the day thus permits the boy to read the weekly text from the prophets, called Hafṭarah. This is sometimes followed by a hortatory discourse. After the religious ceremony, there is often a festive Kiddush, or prayer over a cup of wine, with a family social dinner or banquet on the same or the following day.

      Though records of the 2nd century mention 13 as the age of religious manhood, most elements of the Bar Mitzvah celebration did not appear until the European Middle Ages. Reform Judaism replaced Bar Mitzvah, after 1810, with the confirmation of boys and girls together, generally on the feast of Shavuot. In the 20th century, however, many Reform congregations restored Bar Mitzvah, delaying confirmation until the age of 15 or 16. Numerous Conservative and Reform congregations have instituted a separate ceremony to mark the adulthood of girls, called Bat Mitzvah.

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Universalium. 2010.

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