In Jewish tradition, the Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah ceremony is the celebration of the fact that the child has reached the age of religious majority and begin to take responsibility for their own decisions, an event which would be marked by calling up the child to the reading of the Torah at the very first opportunity – the Shabbat following their 13th birthday.
Nowadays bar/bat mitzvah means both more and less than the traditional understanding. Everyone is aware of the Bar mitzvah speech cliché that “today I am a man”, and knows too that reaching the teenage years is not achieving adulthood, but marks instead the threshold to maturity. Here at The Wimbledon Synagogue we recognise that bar/bat mitzvah is not marking the transition into full religious adulthood, but is the opportunity for the child to begin the journey, with the support and teaching of the Jewish community, family and friends. We have made a deliberate decision to make the preparation for the bar/bat mitzvah ceremony as detailed and stretching as possible. This will give the teenager as many of the tools as possible for them to approach the texts and traditions of Judaism for themselves, as intelligent and enquiring minds and thoughtful souls. We aim to ground the children firmly in biblical text and Jewish thought.
To find out more about Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations for your child at The Wimbledon Synagogue click here.