Monday, May 17, 2010

Crib Note: Bar/Bat Mitvahs ... Not Just for 13-Year Olds Anymore

Bar and bat mitzvahs are the coming of age ceremonies traditionally reserved for 13-year old boys and 12-year old girls respectively. (Though girls in the U.S. were not traditionally encouraged or permitted in some cases to have a bat mitzvah until the early 70's.) These events, often the capstone to years of study, mark the moment when young men and women formally accept responsibility for their own Jewish identity. The transition includes the young person being called to read from the Torah during a synagogue service. A celebration with family and friends often follows.

A bat/bar mitzvah service is open to all members of the congregation. But, if you're not Jewish and are lucky enough to receive an invitation to attend it's something you won't want to miss. Each bar/bat mitzvah is assigned a portion of the Torah and shares their own teaching on that portion with the congregation. A teaching that never fails to inspire. But it's the parents' blessing at the end of a service that nearly always brings me to tears. Listening to a parent describe a lifetime of memories at the very moment that their child is literally walking into adulthood -- especially when you have watched that child grow up yourself -- is precious.

These days the transition is no longer reserved for boys. Or 13-year olds.

The b'nai mitzvah I attended this past weekend for five 30-something mothers and one strapping 76-year old fellow -- affectionately dubbed "Cal and His Gals" -- was proof.

Proof that it's never too late to mark a moment ... even when it may be a smidgen too late for a rollerskating party.

*Props to Am Shalom in Glencoe, IL for its ongoing Adult B'Nai Mitzvah classes (See Not in Chicago? Ask your rabbi where you can find an adult b'nai mitzvah class in your community.

1 comment:

  1. Love your blog, it's just a lovely, happy place to spend hours and hours reading!!