Quotes for Events - Bar, Bat Mitzvah

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Quotes for Bar, Bat Mitzvah.

As the bar mitzvah grew in importance in affluent post-World War II America, the accompanying meal did as well, all too often turning into an excessive and pretentious affair, stereotyped in popular culture by chopped liver sculptures, exotic dancers and marching bands

I have met women in their seventies who still cry because they were denied the chance to study Torah, or prepare for Bat Mitzvah as young girls, or become rabbis though it was clearly their calling. My Bat Mitzvah was not only for me, but for generations of females denied permission or encouragement to do this.
In Jewish law, a boy becomes an adult, responsible for carrying out the mitzvot (religious commandments) at thirteen years and a day old. A girl reaches the same status, although she has far fewer positive commandments to carry out, traditionally speaking, at twelve years old.
Where the male puberty rite, an established tradition of long standing, needed a jolt of consumerism, some "Hollywood ballyhoo," to render it attractive and meaningful to American Jews of the interwar years, its female analogue satisfied on its own modest terms. Mediating between the need of the folk, the mandate of the clergy, the plasticity of Jewish ritual and the rigidity of gender, the new female puberty rite fit perfectly with the tenor of the times.
It has been said, with the kind of wry humor which contains a kernel of truth, that the modern Bar Mitzvah is celebrated with too much Bar and too little Mitzvah.
The Dickensian Christmas is the nearest thing in literature I know to an American bar-mitzva. It has in much the same degree the fantastic preparations, the incredible eating, the enormous wassailing, the swirl of emotions and of family mixups, all superimposed with only partial relevance on a religious solemnity. Christmas in the books of Dickens bursts with extravagant vitality, and so does our bar-mitzva.
This religion was a masculine thing. . . and Seth was coming into his own. The very Hebrew had a rugged male sound to it, all different from the bland English comments of the rabbi.
I was signaled to step forward to a place below the bimah [synagogue platform] at a very respectable distance from the scroll of the Torah, which had already been rolled up and garbed in its mantle. I pronounced the first blessing and from my own humash [Five Books of Moses] read the selection which Father had chosen for me, continued with the reading of the English translation, and concluded with the closing brachah [blessing]. That was it. The scroll was returned to the ark with song and procession, and the service was resumed. No thunder sounded, no lightning struck. The institution of Bat Mitzvah had been born without incident and the rest of the day was all rejoicing.
My God, God of my fathers, in truth and single-heartedness I lift my eyes to Thee on this great and solemn day. I have been a Jew from my birth, but on this day I voluntarily reenter Thy community of Israel. Henceforth it is my duty to keep Thy commandments, and I now become responsible for my own actions and I alone am answerable for them to Thee.
Today you have joined the covenant of God and our people. You are taking upon yourself the holy duty of keeping the words of this Torah and walking in the path of your parents and forefathers. You have chosen it willingly. May you follow it all the days of your life.
When I place my hands upon your head in benediction, I will be the humble instrument through which will flow the stream of history and memories of the great and the good in Israel, the ideals and aspirations of our people, the strength and the life of our faith. It is something which places upon you a solemn responsibility to be worthy of its precepts, to be loyal to its ideals, and to express them in a life of service.
Stretching back centuries and deeply rooted in history, bar mitzvah constituted an enduring link with the past; moreover, it seemed to provide an organically Jewish opportunity for sentimental expression and ritual celebration.
It was vulgar, crass, thoroughly unspiritual, and my parents spent far too much money for all the wrong reasons. And yet--something happened in spite of that. Through the long process of preparing for my bar mitzvah, I learned that I was Jewish and received the barest taste of what that might mean. Years later, I would come to know more, much more.
I didn't feel like a man, really, or know how I was supposed to feel, but it was nice for a thirteen-year-old boy to hear others say that I was a man now.

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