The One Thing We Need to Stop Saying to our Kids at their Bar or Bat Mitzvah

It was my turn again on the Rabbis Without Borders blog on My Jewish Learning.

I’ve been thinking a lot about bar/bat mitzvah recently, about what it means to kids and families and how I as a rabbi am responsible in part for crafting an experience that helps make meaning. The performative aspect is one part that I have become more suspect of, and this blog post is reflects some of what I have been thinking. I hope to write more about communal expectations and how we “do” bar/bat mitzvah at a later date.

The One Thing We Need to Stop Saying to our Kids at their Bar or Bat Mitzvah


Published by


I am a Rabbi, serving the Jewish community of Olympia, Washington and the surrounding area.

3 thoughts on “The One Thing We Need to Stop Saying to our Kids at their Bar or Bat Mitzvah”

  1. This is an important conversation. Maybe a small change would be for us to begin using different language when we talk about the coming of age in Jewish life. Most everyone talks about “having” a bar/bat mitzvah, as if it were the ceremony itself that is significant. Certainly being called to the Torah for the first time is highly significant. But ultimately, I think, it is the “becoming” (an adult; increasingly responsible, etc.) that holds significance. “Becoming” which hopefully continues Jewishly for one’s entire life!


    1. Martha, thanks for your wonderful comment. I agree, “having” isn’t the best term. The ceremony recognizes what one “becomes.”


Thanks for continuing the conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s