The Importance Of Bar Mitzvah

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The progression from adolescence to adulthood is seen differently in every religion. Normally, it presents new responsibilities for the child and brings them into a new stage of life. For Catholics, the coming of age is celebrated through the sacrament of Confirmation, around the age fifteen.In Buddhism, a boy is represented at a service when they are just under the age of twenty and become initiated into the temple. For Jews, it is marked by the turning of age thirteen when they are released from the responsibility of their parents and begin leading a life for themselves, one in which they are accountable for their own actions. A major difference between the celebrations in other religions and that of Judaism is that a Jewish boy’s coming …show more content…
In 2005, Mark Oppenheimer attended bar mitzvahs and assessed the spending of them. He concluded that the extravagant gatherings hosted by Jewish families are less problematic and troubling than criticism repeatedly makes them out to be (Schoenfeld 309). Bar mitzvahs provide a sense of continuity within the Jewish community. Their ceremonies offer the choice of Jewish identity to the adolescent through their lifetime of studies. The synagogue ceremony and social celebration work in tandem to encourage the decision of choosing Judaism. The two strive to demonstrate how this coming of age is something to be shared. But before getting too far, it is important to address where the practice originated or, more importantly, how it developed to the event it is …show more content…
They became common practice only in the early modern times. There is however, evidence of it mentioned in ancient texts. Genesis Rabbah 63 reads, “Man is in duty bound to look to his son’s religious education until he attains the age of thirteen, and then to offer thanks to God for having relieved him of his responsibility.” The focus here becomes on the father no longer being accountable for the actions of his son, however, there is no mention of a ceremony of any requirements of the son. The event began as a recognition of the parents’ child-raising efforts and all they have done in assisting in the development of him (Spero 103). For the extent of Jewish history, the age thirteen meant a status passage and provided no real evidence of the development of a ceremony. According to historian Ivan Marcus, the elements of a bar mitzvah ceremony and celebration begin to appear in the sixteenth century German empire and Eastern Europe. He concluded that bar mitzvahs were established as ritual events to highlight the progression of boys into men. Beginning in the 1880s, America experienced the largest wave of Jewish migration. Millions of Jews left Eastern Europe, which at time held the largest population of Jews in the world, and headed to America. The Jews present in this migration were accustomed to the rituals of bar mitzvahs. These Eastern European Jews were placed in American schools and their old values had

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