The Barmitzvah Ceremony

The Barmitzvah ceremony takes place usually on Shabbat (Saturday) and usually of the week of the Barmitzvah boy’s Hebrew birthday .The Barmitzvah boy is called up to read from the Torah – referred to as his Barmitzvah portion. This is also sometimes referred to as aliyah leTorah. He may read the whole of the parsha, or just a few lines. He will also say the blessings, and sometimes read from the Haftorah.

In modern practice, the Barmitzvah ceremony usually requires significant preparation and study on the part of the boy, who will work with a Rabbi or Barmitzvah teacher for months (or years).

The Barmitzvah ceremony used to be quite simple. On his 13th birthday, the boy would go to the Rabbi and get blessed by him. They would pray together and the Barmitzvah would be over. There were no elaborate parties or ceremonies to mark the occasion.

While theoretically a special religious service or ceremony is not required for a boy to become a Barmitzvah, over the centuries an emphasis has been placed on the ceremony as part of becoming ‘Barmitzvah’

The Barmitzvah ceremony will vary greatly between different Jewish movements. Often it may include some or all of the following:

•Leading specific prayers or the entire service during a Shabbat service
•Reading the weekly Torah portion during a Shabbat service
•Reading the weekly Haftarah portion during a Shabbat service
•Giving a speech about the Torah and/or Haftarah reading.

The family of the Bar Mitzvah boy is often recognized during the service with an aliyah or multiple aliyahs. It has also become the custom in many synagogues for the Torah to be passed from grandfather to father to the Barmitzvah, symbolizing the passing down of the obligation to engage in the study of Torah and Judaism.

After the Bar Mitzvah boy’s work is done, there is a custom for the women to throw sweets at him in congratulation.

In conclusion, the modern Barmitzvah ceremony provides many opportunities for a boy and many members of his family to take part in a Shabbat service.

For non-Jewish visitors who have been invited to a Barmitzvah, every Synagogue and strand of Judaism is different – however generally a Barmitzvah Ceremony is essentially the Barmitzvah Boy participating in a Saturday Shabbat service which will normally last around 2 hours.

Further sections and articles that may be of interest
What is a Barmitzvah?