"Bar Mitzvah" literally means "son of the commandment." "Bar" is "son" in Aramaic. "Mitzvah" is "commandment". "Bat" is daughter in Hebrew and Aramaic. (The Ashkenazic pronunciation is "bas"). Technically, the term refers to the child who is coming of age, and it is strictly correct to refer to someone as "becoming a bar (or bat) mitzvah." However, the term is more commonly used to refer to the coming of age ceremony itself, and you are more likely to hear that someone is "having a bar mitzvah."
Under Jewish Law, children are not obligated to observe the commandments, although they are encouraged to do so as much as possible to learn the obligations they will have as adults. At the age of 13 (12 for girls), children become obligated to observe the commandments. The bar mitzvah ceremony formally marks the assumption of that obligation, along with the corresponding right to take part in leading religious services, to count in a minyan (the minimum number of people needed to perform certain parts of religious services), to form binding contracts, to testify before religious courts and to marry.
A Jewish boy automatically becomes a bar mitzvah upon reaching the age of 13 years, and a girl upon reaching the age of 12 years.
Heritage Russian Jewish Congregation conducts many Bar/Bat Mitzvas during a year. The best way to get ready for Bar or Bat Mitzvah is to enroll your child to Heritage Sunday School . If you would like to arrange a Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration please contact us.
Typically a boy needs to get a basic Jewish education to be able to celebrate his Bar mitzvah. He learns main principles of Jewish belief, Hebrew, Jewish holidays, Torah and most common Mitzvos. After that he starts his preparations for the ceremony. Boy learns how to chant the Torah, how to put on Tefilin and prepares his speech.
For a girl to be able to celebrate her Bat Mitzva, she needs to study the same course of Jewish education, get involved in a Torah related project, learn certain prayers and prepare a speech.
Bar and Bat Mitzvah is a joyous celebration for parents and grandparents as well.