We went to our neighbor Rachel's bat mitzvah this morning. We've lived across the street from the Ginsburg's for eight years now and have watched this young girl grow into a lovely and accomplished young woman.
This coming of age ceremony takes place when a Jewish boy or girl reaches age 13. At this time, according to Jewish law, the bar or bat mitzvah is considered to be an adult and old enough to assume religious responsibility. Bar means "son of"; bat means "daughter of" and mitzvah means "commandment". Thus, the bar or bat mitzvah is expected to oserve the commandments, the heart of Jewish tradition. He/she is considered ready to accept their religious duties and be responsible for their own ethical behavior.
To reach this point, the bar or bat mitzvah has fulfilled an educational goal demanding many years of studying the Hebrew language, Jewish rituals, and the history of Judaism. Each bar mitzvah also designs and completes a community service project. Rachel built a pupet theater for a special needs class in order for the teacher to have that resource to teach her students new skills and cooperation techniques.
In addition to participating throughout the service, Rachel was called to the pulpit to recite appropriate blessings, to read from the Torah (the Five Books of Moses), and to chant the related passage from the Jewish prophets, as well as deliver a personal address to the congregation.
Rachel looked so happy and pleased; her parents were bursting with pride. It was a happy day, and an interesting and learning experience for me.
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