Examining modern Bar/Bat Mitzvahs

Local Jew, and Knight Errant Editor, Noah Bridges delves into the complex world of modern Bar/Bat Mitzvahs.


Lauren Beh

Noah Bridges recreates a favorite moment of his Jewish heritage while quaking with hand-placement terror.

Noah Bridges, Diversions Editor

Have you ever gone to someone’s Catholic confirmation ceremony and thought: “this needs more chair-hoisting and caucasian grandmas?” Well fret no longer, for the solution is a Hebrew Bar Mitzvah.

Bar and Bat Mitzvahs (Bar for boys and Bat for girls) are celebrations of growth. It’s origins were forged in the Torah (that’s the first half of the bible for those keeping score at home). The big notion that comes with this experience is that the child is now considered an adult under most circumstances and will be treated as such.

Now, back in the time of the Torah, young boys and girls would be responsible for knowing, and following, all 613 laws expected of them. I, myself, can be held accountable to roughly 6.3 Hebrew laws–it would be 7.3, but I just can’t kick my breakfast burrito habit.

A Bar or Bat Mitzvah is supposed to be performed at the age of thirteen. It is allowed by Hebrew law to have the ceremony performed at any age if there are valid reasons for the delay. Pro-tip: If you do happen to be a thirteen-year-old Jew, its a good idea to have your Bar Mitzvah now, because people enjoy giving pre-pubescent kids money and gifts more than a 42-year-old with a Lebron James hairline.

The Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony itself consists of torah readings and preparatory work by the person who’s coming of age. Some synagogues require volunteer service and other community works in preparation. After the religious ceremony is over comes the party.

The earliest records of post-Bar/Bat Mitzvah parties is from the thirteenth century. What we can only imagine was a thirteenth century throwdown, has slowly evolved into a 21st century rave for kids with braces and curfews.

It’s during these wild times that the child will likely receive gifts from family and friends and dance the night away. It took about eight seconds for wealthy east coast Jews to look at a traditional Bar/Bat mitzvah and say “yeah,but what if we got celebrities to show up and rented out hotels?”

So, that’s where companies like Untouchable Events step in and plan the whole venue for a cool $80,000-150,000. These parties come with a star-studded cast, live music, and great food. All for kids who can’t legally fly commercially by themselves.

Now hang on one Hebrew minute here, while these kinds of hifalutin examples do exist, they are highly uncommon. It’s more likely to be held at a house or the synagogue itself.

If a chance presents itself to attend a Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony or party–take it! It’ll either be an interesting cultural experience or what sounds like a real-life anti-smoking demonstration (Hebrew is a guttural language). In any case, it’s worth the time and a momentous occasion for Jews…and a calling card for Proactiv sales people globally.