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. He may read the whole of the parasha, or just a few lines. He will also say the blessings, and read 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 often 1 year.

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 an important 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 Haftorah portion during a Shabbat service
•Giving a speech about the Torah and/or Haftorah reading.

The family of the Bar Mitzvah boy is often recognized during the service with an aliyah (the calling up to the bimah for a segment of the formal Torah reading) or multiple aliyahs for family members which is very special for the Barmitzvah boy and his family. It has also become the custom in many synagogues for the Torah to be passed from grandfather to father to the Barmitzvah boy, 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. The reason for this is to wish him a “sweet” life now he has become Barmitzvah and is transitioning into adulthood. It is also customary after the sweets are thrown to shout “Mazel Tov”.

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?
Why do we throw sweets during the Barmitzvah ceremony?
What is the difference between a Barmitzvah & Batmitzvah?