Bar/Bat Mitzvah: Teachers of Torah, Leaders of Prayer

“We come together this Shabbat to celebrate a special moment in the life of our congregation.” These words, part of the blessing we recite over our young people on the occasion of a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, include within them the joy and pride of a current accomplishment – and the promise of future commitment. Our B’nai Mitzvah (plural of Bar/Bat Mitzvah) see themselves as part of a chain of tradition – and see this day not as an end, but the beginning of a new level of Jewish life. They serve, indeed, as “teachers of Torah” and “leaders of prayer”: taking a large role in leading the liturgy of the service, as well as delving into both the history of an ancient text, and its application in our lives today. Friends from all backgrounds are welcomed and embraced: often we invite all the friends of the Bar/Mitzvah to stand behind the young person as he or she completes the reading of the Torah, and invite questions from those who may never have seen a Torah scroll up close, or perhaps never been at a Jewish service before.