Ritual Observation : A Young Person 's Coming Of Age

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Steven Smith
Anthropology 121

Ritual Observation

In various cultures, heavy importance is placed on the transition from child to adult. A young person’s coming of age and the ceremonies which may follow can embody a highly important, enlightening, and maybe even confusing period of time for the person undertaking these rites of passage. This type of coming of age ceremony holds a very high importance to the followers of Judaism as it signifies the transition of a young boy into a young man, or a young girl into a young woman, it is known as a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, which means “son of commandment” or “daughter of commandment”, and thus the person undergoing the ceremony is known as the Bar/Bat Mitzvah. As is hebrew custom, the age of
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Preparations such as learning how to read the hebrew language, advancing to read the Torah and then learning their specific Haftorah section which is read front to back, which is the section that they will be read in one of their speeches. Bar Mitzvahs traditionally take place in Temple during a normal Saturday morning session after the boy’s 13th birthday. The Bar Mitzvah (boy) will be leading this Saturday session, and it is open to all members of the temple along with their family members or close friends whom they wish to attend and watch them make this transformation from child to man. The service tends to begin with a song and a moment of meditation. Following this the Bar Mitzvah (boy) is presented with a Tallit by their parents, and as it is being given to them the Rabbi is explaining the importance and significance of this religious garb to those in attendance. After this the Bar Mitzvah (boy) begins leading the service from the bima, a raised platform with a reading desk, whilst being assisted by the Rabbi. The participant then carries the Torah from the Ark, which houses it through the congregation up to the bima following a specific path, to begin the Torah passing ceremony from one generation to another until it ends with the Bar Mitzvah (boy) as the most recent member of the family to ascend into adulthood. Next the Torah reading is divided into 4 parts, 3 people, family
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