Bar/Bat Mitzvah means “one who is responsible for the commandments.” This rite of passage marks the initiation of our thirteen-year-old children into the religious community and into responsibility for the understanding and observance of the precepts of our tradition. The central feature of this service is our children’s taking the role of Shaliach Tzibur (worship leader). In this role they lead our entire congregation in worship and in Torah study. They also share with us their understanding of the meaning of Judaism and its place in their lives. In so doing, our children fulfill the first of what we hope will be a lifetime of mitzvot as responsible members of our Kehilla (community).
“Bar and Bat Mitzvah is what a young person becomes, simply by becoming thirteen… It is not an
event or ceremony. It is not a verb, as in “The Rabbi Bar Mitzvahed my son.” Bar and Bat Mitzvah
literally translates as “son and daughter of the commandment.” What it really means is “old enough
to be responsible for mitzvot…” – Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin
Bar/Bat Mitzvah marks the beginning of young adulthood and the achievement of a degree of proficiency in Hebrew reading. Bar/Bat Mitzvah serves as an intermediate milestone in the Jewish education of our sons and daughters. Bar/Bat Mitzvah should never mark the conclusion of a child’s Jewish education. Rather, parents should help their children to understand the wealth of the Jewish heritage and the sacred obligation to continue formal Jewish education through Confirmation and beyond. Through the service which recognizes Bar/Bat Mitzvah, our children demonstrate their personal affirmation of this responsibility.
During the service of Kabbalat Torah (Confirmation), our children confirm what they had affirmed on the bimah during their service of Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Thus Confirmation represents, in part, the fulfillment of Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Completion of the former implies commitment of the latter. Reform Judaism sees Confirmation as the necessary completion of the process that is begun with the ceremony of Bar/Bat Mitzvah. It is a mitzvah for the parents of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah child to partner with their child in seeing to it that he/she continues his/her Religious School education through Confirmation. We look forward to joining you in this sacred task.
Parents are invited to contact the Rabbi at any time to discuss any questions they may have concerning Bar/Bat Mitzvah.