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  • Topic: Judaism, Halakha, Torah
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  • Published : June 22, 2007
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Bat Mitzvah literally translates to "daughter of commandment" and implies "responsible female."

According to Jewish Law, every Jewish girl becomes a bat mitzvah at age 12 - a year earlier than a Jewish boy becomes a bar mitzvah due to the fact that girls mature earlier than boys. As a bat mitzvah, she becomes obligated by God's commandments - as prescribed in the Torah and as interpreted by Moses, the Prophets, the Sages and the Rabbis.

A Jewish girl becomes a bat mitzvah automatically upon turning 12 years old. No ceremony is needed. The Reconstructionist Movement introduced the idea of celebrating a girl becoming a bat mitzvah in 1922. Since then, ceremonies to mark the occassion of a girl becoming a bat mitzvah have become more and more popular.

While the bat mitzvah girl can celebrate from her 12th birthday, some wait and celebrate on the girl's 13th birthday. In many Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative synagogues, the bat mitzvah may be celebrated by the girl blessing and/or reading Torah and also leading part of the prayer service. Festive meals and lavish parties in honor of a girl becoming a bat mitzvah have also become common in non-orthodox communities.

In orthodox communities, the bat mitzvah is more often marked with a family celebration than a religious ritual. If an orthodox girl wants to celebrate her bat mitzvah by reading Torah or leading a prayer service, then this is generally done in the presence of women onlyA bar mitzvah ("son of the commandment") is a male Jew who has reached his 13th birthday and is recognized as fully responsible for his own religious and moral actions. A bat mitzvah is the corresponding female Jew. A rite in the synagogue, which is also commonly referred to as bar mitzvah, marks the attainment of the status of bar mitzvah. In Conservative and Reform Judaism, a similar rite is used for the bat mitzvah as well. When reaching puberty, a young man or woman is called upon to read a prophetic passage...
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