Bar and Bat Mitzvah

Facts

  • Bar mitzvah is celebrated after the 13th birthday for Jewish boys, while Bat Mitzvah is celebrated after the 12th birthday for Jewish girls.
  • The bar and bat mitzvah formally mark the age at which children are required to observe the commandments under Jewish law. The occasion recognizes the new, responsible adult as a member of the Jewish community.
  • Bar mitzvah translates to “son of the commandments.” Bat mitzvah translates to “daughter of the commandments.”
  • Preparation for the formal, public ceremony usually takes from one to four years or more of Hebrew and religious studies.
  • Bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah also bestow the right to lead religious services, to count in a minyan (prayer quorum), and ultimately, to have responsibility to follow Jewish ritual law and tradition, as well as the ability to partake in all areas of Jewish community life.

Product Features

  • Hallmark's Tree of Life brand offers 35 Bar Mitzvah and 35 Bat Mitzvah cards. 
  • The line features a variety of religious and celebratory images with messages of congratulations, celebration and pride.
  • Cards are written with lighthearted sentiment and some are humorous in an effort to meet a young recipient's card-sending needs.
  • Money holders are a very popular option for Bar/Bat Mitzvah recipients.

Celebration History

  • The origins of the bar mitzvah are obscure. It is not mentioned in the Torah (five books of Moses that are a form of instruction in the Jewish culture). Historians are unable to date its beginnings, although evidence can be found as early as 516 B.C.E. 
  • The bat mitzvah is more contemporary. The first publicly recognized bat mitzvah in North America was held in 1921. 
  • The ages of 13 for boys and 12 for girls were chosen in ancient times, probably as the average age of maturity. 
  • In the bar mitzvah's earliest form, during a Saturday Shabbat service shortly after a male child’s 13th birthday, he was called up to the Torah to recite a blessing over the weekly reading. Girls did not participate in a service. 
  • Today, the bar mitzvah celebrant does much more than say a blessing. The celebrant may pray traditional chants, read from the Torah, lead part of the service, or lead certain prayers. The boy usually makes a speech, which traditionally begins with, “Today I am a man.” The father recites a blessing thanking God for removing the burden of being responsible for the son’s sins. 
  • In Orthodox faiths, women are not allowed to take part in the service or read from the Torah, so the bat mitzvah, if celebrated, may involve the girl making a speech after the Torah is put away or it may simply be a party.
  • In other movements of Judaism, girls participate in the same way as boys. In conservative synagogues, the bar or bat mitzvah celebrant leads the entire community through the service, which includes reciting Hebrew and English prayers, ritual blessings and readings from the Torah. Reform congregations vary the amount of responsibility the child has. Some boys and girls conduct the whole service; others simply say special prayers and blessings. 
  • The popular ceremonies and receptions of today are not required by the Jewish faith. They are relatively modern innovations, not mentioned in the Jewish Talmud and unheard of only a century ago. 
  • Most families host a reception following the religious ceremony. This is a time for the entire Jewish community and their guests to congratulate the new member on his or her accomplishments. An evening party for invited guests generally follows. 
  • Some parties are small, casual get-togethers while others are large, formal affairs complete with a sit-down dinner, music and entertainment. 

In Stores & Online

Available at online at Hallmark.com, Hallmark Gold Crown® stores nationwide and wherever Tree of Life products are sold. Use the store locator on Hallmark.com to find your nearest Hallmark Gold Crown® retailer.

Fun Fact

The first Hallmark Hall of Fame production, Amahl and the Night Visitors, aired in 1951 and was the first original opera created for television.